Faculty earn professional recognition

Christiana Thompson, Reporter

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This year it’s not just students pulling all-nighters to make the grade. Faculty members have been hard at work achieving National Board Certification and doctorates while balancing their busy schedules.

Between teaching classes and furthering her own education for roughly four years, Dr. Vickie Graziano has mastered a perfect balance.

“I love to learn, so I took advantage of the awesome opportunity to take classes while they are cost-efficient,” Graziano said. Graziano was awarded her Ed.D. in 2017*.  

Graziano’s efforts modeled academic perseverance for her students.

“There were definitely times where it felt impossible to accomplish,” Graziano said. “But for me it just meant some earlier mornings and managing my time efficiently.”

Illinois is ranked 6th in the nation for the number of National Board Certificates earned. As of 2017, 25.6% of faculty within the Illinois State University lab schools have their certifications and the number is growing*. For comparison, 4.5% of teachers in the state of Illinois and 3.1% of teachers within the nation have obtained National Board Certification.

The following teachers achieved their National Board Certification this year as part of a cohort within the lab schools: Jason Landes, Tish Ortega, Courtney O’Connor, Tara Augsperger, Mandy Stalets, and Amy Reiman.

Guidance counselor Courtney O’Connor worked for three years on her certification.

“For one of our assignments, I had a group of ten students that I met with on a weekly basis for about eight weeks,” O’Connor said. “We discussed healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety in a test-taking environment.”

O’Connor thought the Certification was a great way to push herself as a counselor.

“The Certification challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things,” O’Connor said. “Not only to meet the standards for the process, but to embrace different strategies in reaching the needs of my students.”

Math teacher Amanda Stalets, who worked on her certification process while working at Metcalf prior to her employment at U-High, became an NBCT this school year as well.

“In the moment it was a very difficult process, but it has caused me to be more mindful about the decisions that I make on a daily basis and how those decisions will affect student achievement” Stalets said.

Cohort leader and NBCT history teacher, Kate Pole, coached the cohort through the certification process.

Pole helped teachers reflect on their lessons and connect their teaching strategies to the NBCT standards.

“The things that come second nature to them, they sometimes forget that it’s because they are such good teachers that their habits of mind are making those decisions,” Pole said. “So one of the hardest things I have to do is help them articulate the tiny little decisions  that are going on in their head every time they make a lesson plan or leave a comment on a paper.”

Pole explained that the challenge of the National Board process is to demonstrate how the teacher impacts students’ growth in education.

“My colleagues are doing absolutely amazing things as teachers,” Pole said. “It has been so exciting to observe what teachers in this building are doing for their students.”

*14 total teachers at U-High have their NBCT

*3 total teachers at U-High have their Doctorate.

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Faculty earn professional recognition