18 educators earn National Board certification

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By Jesef Williams

Four teachers at Buford Middle School say if it wasn’t for teamwork and extended support, they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish their most recent feat.

Karen Dingler, Lisa Hallman, Paige Johnson and Mary Beth Mize are among 18 teachers in the Lancaster County School District who earned certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

National Board certification is regarded as one of the highest honors in the education profession.

The process requires teachers to complete about 100 pages of self assessments, videotape themselves teaching a lesson and pass a six-part, timed computer-based test.

From beginning the process to receiving results, it usually takes most teachers at least a year to finish.

“The National Board process is one of the best personal, professional development opportunities that a teacher can have,” said Carolyn Jordan, the district’s executive director of instructional services. “You learn how to reflect as a practitioner.”

 Hallman, a media specialist at Buford Middle, said the process makes you reflect and critique your teaching strategies, all in an effort to grow as an educator.

“You learn how to be a better teacher,” Hallman said. “You look at how students can be successful.”

Johnson, an English teacher, said she has modified teaching strategies to accommodate different learning styles since completing the process. Meanwhile, Mize, who teaches special education, said the certification process has made her place more emphasis on parental involvement.

Mize now sends more e-mails and newsletters to parents of her students. A key is to relay as much positive news as you can, she said.

“How do you make sure your parents are involved?” Mize said. “That’s the most important thing I took out of it.”

Dingler, also an English teacher, said any teacher going through the National Board certification process needs the support of their school to help them get through it. Family support and understanding is also key, as a large percentage of your time for a year is devoted to the process, she said.

“Stay the course and don’t try to go through it alone,” Dingler said. “The whole school just rallied around us.”

Dingler, Hallman, Johnson and Mize each started working on the certification in summer 2007 and were required to have all their paperwork submitted by May 2008.

They took the six-part test in June and got their results in November.

The total number of board-certified teachers in the district is now 92.

Following are the other school district teachers who earned National Board certification recently:

– Dabney Brice - North Elementary

– Pamela Fields - Buford Elementary

– Misty Greer - North Elementary

– Leigh Hardin - Indian Land Elementary

– Margaret Hudson - North Elementary

– Susan Lucas - McDonald Green Elementary

– Sherri McLemore - Kershaw Elementary

– Alane Mills - Andrew Jackson High

– Jean Neal - South Middle

– Robin Parker - A.R. Rucker Middle

– Pamela Sweer - South Middle

– Shannon Thorne - McDonald Green Elementary

– Ann Tillman - McDonald Green Elementary

– Tracie Veal - McDonald Green Elementary

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152