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6 teachers in Valley earn board certification

By Bayne Hughes· 340-2432

Six local teachers have put themselves among the nation’s elite educators by earning their National Board Certification.

Decatur has four newly certified teachers, including Linda Miller, Leon Sheffield and Benjamin Davis elementary schools’ art teacher; Ginger Richey, Austin High math teacher; Patti McCoy, Cedar Ridge Middle School library and media specialist; and Beth Davis, Somerville Road Elementary music teacher. This pushes Decatur’s total on this national standard to 27.

Morgan County has two newly honored teachers, Maria Young and Kim Smith, both of Priceville Elementary.

Established in 1993

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards established this certification in 1993.

The board offers certification in more than 25 areas. A 15-member board uses a standards-based performance assessment of the candidates, who must know the standards and use them in the classroom.

Jeanne Payne, Decatur City Schools’ director of curriculum, compared National Board Certification to an accountant becoming a certified public accountant.

She called it a “badge of honor” for the teachers and school system.

“Teachers enter an elite group who passed stringent qualifications to achieve their goal,” Payne said.

“It’s a very rigorous process, and teachers who earned National Board Certification say it’s an incredible growth experience.”

The teachers must provide evidence of their meeting the standards through a video of their classroom work, a portfolio and an exam.

The board says it takes at least seven months to earn certification, but it takes many teachers one to three years.

“The bottom line is when a teacher improves her instruction methods in the classroom, that improves student achievement,” Payne said.

Extra income

The teachers earn $5,000 each in additional annual income for the next 10 years and a one-time $5,000 supplement for classroom supplies.

Payne said teachers pay a $2,300 entry fee, but some are getting state grants to pay the fee.

Decatur City Schools Foundation recently received a grant from the Boeing Co. to help pay the teachers’ entry fees.

The foundation invested this grant money, however, and it may be a couple of years before it will have enough interest to pay National Board Certification fees for the teachers.

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