By Susan Riddell
It’s been three years since the Floyd County school district has had a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), but administrators are looking to change that with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.
“We firmly believe that building capacity is the key to organizational success for kids,” Superintendent Henry Webb said. “And in hiring the very best people when we get a chance to hire, we believe the NBCT program is rigorous, practical and authentic. It will only serve to make our teachers even better for our kids.”
While hiring NBCT teachers (Webb said the district is changing job applications to include an inquiry regarding national board certification.) is important for Floyd County Schools’ teacher growth goals, it’s equally critical that his current staff members seek out the certification.
Currently, there are nine NBCT teachers in the district.
Ted George, district director of human resources, said some teachers have expressed concerns with the application process.
“There’s a perception that it’s very difficult and time consuming,” said George, who added that some teachers were hesitant to apply without a reassurance of necessary resources being made available to them.
Recent efforts are changing those perceptions, however, with the formation of a districtwide National Board Certification Program that is led by district staff and supported by the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) as a partner.
“We believe that if we can get 15-30 (teachers certified) per year that our kids will reap the benefits for many years to come. Ultimately, that’s what it is all about,” Webb said.
Still in its infancy, the program already is popular in the district, Webb said. When the initial program meeting was held last month, 23 teachers attended, and 34 teachers already have paid their NBCT fees or verbally committed to applying in the coming years.
More meetings will be held to guide NBCT applicants through the process, and current NBCT teachers will serve as mentors along the way.
Lori Bricken, a history teacher at Prestonsburg High School, received her national board certification in 2004. Bricken said that higher expectations for both her and her students mean greater achievement for everyone.
“National Board Certification is a daily reminder that I must hold myself to a higher standard,” Bricken said. “At no point do I sit down and say ‘That was a great unit that doesn’t need any changes,’ and then use it for the next 10 years. National Board Certified teachers are always motivated to look for ways to improve student learning.”
Bricken will serve as a mentor to Floyd County Schools teachers who decide to apply for certification.
Had a program like this been around a decade ago, Bricken said she would have had a much easier time with the process. She said just knowing she had available support from colleagues would have made her feel less alone during the time period.
She is excited to help others now, she said, and that the district progress will be evident when these teachers improve their practices under the certification.
“This (district) program would provide an immeasurable support system for teachers who want to become certified at this level,” Bricken said. “Teachers need to become better at networking and sharing. This would provide an avenue to accomplish that.
“Further, certification requires much reflection,” she added. “In order to improve, you must make the time to truly reflect on what you do and how your students respond. Often teachers are swamped with deadlines and covering the content so that they do not do a quality-control check. National Board Certification can be that check.”
Aside from mentor support, the Floyd County Schools’ program cohort model will allow for applying teachers to have access to more resources and professional learning opportunities; two days per semester of release time for preparation; KEA Jump Start Seminars; half of the certification tuition covered by the district; and potentially other annual salary supplements contingent on funding.
“It is very exciting that we have so many teachers who are willing to dedicate their time and energy to such a tremendous professional development opportunity that will make them much better at teaching our kids,” George said.
“With the interest levels so high to join (our district) initiative, too, it’s humbling to know how dedicated our teachers are to the students who they teach,” George added. “The fact that they embraced such a powerful professional development program makes me proud to be leading this group.”
Webb added that this initiative is a systemic process district leaders have identified to build capacity.
“Our board is to be commended for their continued support of capacity building for our team in our district,” Webb said. “While we are committed to our motto ‘It’s all about Kids,’ we understand that if we are serious about that motto then we must continue to grow as adults.
“Like any initiative we engage in we will implement, support the program, monitor the program and collect data on the success of the program,” Webb added. “If successful, we will multiply our efforts for our team and our kids. If we expect more from our team then we must be willing to step forward and support our team.”
Lori Bricken, firstname.lastname@example.org, (606) 886-2252
Ted George, email@example.com, (606) 886-2354
Henry Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org, (606) 886-2354
Education Professional Standards Board
Most recent class of Kentucky NBCT teachers