Monday, December 27, 2010

The Stars of New Hanover County

StarNews recently revealed that New Hanover County is ranked sixth in the state for the number of teachers with National Board Certification for 2010.

This is exciting news and on behalf of the Cape Fear Future Team, I want to offer a huge congratulations to our newly certified teachers!

This article caught my eye for two reasons: Cape Fear Future is committed to improving our region’s educational system and this is an extraordinary achievement that should be highlighted at great length. Secondly, this certification process hits home for me because my mother, a former art teacher of Roanoke Rapids, NC, was one of the first teachers to qualify for the National Board Certification in the early 1990s. After reading the StarNews article, I called my mom to ask about her personal experience.

“The National Board for Teacher Certification was the most grueling experience of my professional life. But once accomplished, the experience changed everything about the way I saw my teaching and my students. The National Board is voluntary: a challenge where one must be fiercely committed to being the best you can be. As in any worthwhile endeavor, to be better, to step beyond what is expected or ordinary, one has to take risks. It was such a remarkable experience. New Hanover County must be very proud of their newly certified teachers.”

I remember this time period well. Aside from losing almost every one of her hair follicles and the diversion of copious amounts of blood away from her vital organs, she made it through. The certification process is akin to that of a lawyer preparing to take the bar...not easy. The applicants prepare extensive portfolios related to their field of expertise and are assessed on their current teaching methods, as well as their comprehension and expertise on those subjects as evaluated by their responses to a series of exercises.

The interesting, and probably most valuable takeaway of this process is the requirement that a candidate’s lesson plans make an impact outside of the classroom. My mom described this as throwing a pebble into a still pond. “Every lesson should have a ripple effect in which the lesson’s content of experience affects not just the student in that classroom, but also involves other teachers, and extends into the community at large, as the content of the lesson also exists in the context of the community.”

Teachers voluntarily undergo huge self assessments and practice their craft looking for ways to expand knowledge and critically assess their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers are improving the quality of their teaching to produce a superior learning environment that consistently supports the student’s knowledge.

This process is a great parallel for start-up businesses/entrepreneurs who are essentially doing the same thing—consistently reevaluating their craft, their expertise, and their impact (in their case, profitability and number of items sold to community). Starting something new is tricky and the New Hanover County teachers really took a risk to do this. Achieving national board certification is in a way being the ultimate entrepreneur.

This intense self-examination and performance appraisal process should be widely encouraged across the region, state, and nation. We should be proud that New Hanover County has produced such a high number of recipients as this marks an important achievement for our school system, and an important milestone in terms of community and economic development.

See the following link for StarNews article:

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