Local teachers earn National Board certification

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Twelve Beaufort County teachers have earned the prestigious National Board certification, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced recently.
The addition of 12 new teachers was the year’s ninth-highest total among South Carolina school districts and increased the district’s overall total to 139 National Board Certified teachers — 9 percent of its teaching force.
“This is a rigorous process that requires dedication and hard work,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale.  “It challenges applicants to reevaluate what they do in the classroom and focus more closely on student outcomes.  That means that while teachers certainly benefit from the process, the real winners are our students.”
Beaufort’s newest National Board Certified teachers are:
• Toni D’Imperio (Beaufort High)
• Sonya Elliott (Shell Point Elementary)
• Laura Gottardo (Bluffton High)
• Lisa Marchetta (Hilton Head High)
• Karen Penale (Hilton Head Elementary IB)
• Patricia Schoelkopf (Hilton Head High)
• Marcela Shiflett (Bluffton High)
• Suzanne Torgerson (Hilton Head Middle)
• Amy Trask (Lady’s Island Elementary)
• Dennis Vernon (Bluffton High)
• Jean Vinel (Bluffton High)
• Jennifer Weitekamper (Hilton Head High)
Statewide, 360 new National Board Certified teachers brought the state’s total to 8,142, ranking South Carolina third in the nation after North Carolina and Florida.  South Carolina is second in the nation in terms of the percentage of teachers who have been or currently are National Board Certified.
A research study by the National Research Council of the National Academies found that the NBPTS and its advanced teacher certification program have a positive impact on student achievement, teacher retention and professional development. The NRC study found that students taught by National Board Certified Teachers make higher gains on achievement tests than students of non-board-certified teachers.
Across the country, most states provide salary incentives and cover the cost for teachers who pursue and achieve national certification. In Beaufort County, nationally certified teachers earn a $1,334 annual bonus, in addition to the annual bonus paid by the state for the 10-year life of the certificate.  The state bonus can be either $5,000 or $7,500 a year, depending upon when the teacher first began the certification process.
Certification candidates undertake a two-part process that lasts one to three years.  It requires them to reflect on their classroom practices, their understanding of subject material and their preparation techniques.  In addition to preparing a portfolio with videotapes of classroom teaching, lesson plans, student work samples and reflective essays, teachers must complete assessment center exercises based on content knowledge to prove not only that they have mastered the subjects they teach, but also that they know how to teach them.
The National Board process defines the knowledge, skills and accomplishments that symbolize teaching excellence.  It was created so that teachers – like professionals in other fields – could achieve distinction by demonstrating through a demanding performance assessment that they can meet high and rigorous standards for what they should know and be able to do.