Teacher Melanie Quinn has a master’s degree, a doctorate and decades of teaching experience at the elementary and university level under her belt. But none of those experiences carried quite the rigor of the year she spent earning her certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
“I likened it to a dissertation on steroids,” Quinn said.
Quinn teaches fourth grade at Crestline Elementary School, and she is one of the hundreds of teachers in Clark County who have demonstrated their dedication to the job by becoming National Board Certified. The certification is the most recognized and respected professional accomplishment an educator can earn in their career.
More than 20 percent of teachers at the Evergreen, Camas and Ridgefield School Districts have National Board Certificates, according to an announcement last week by the National Board. They are among 81 school districts across the country whose teaching staffs were recognized for that accomplishment.
Those districts will receive an award for the district office and a celebration for their National Board certified teachers.
“We are so proud of our National Board Certified teachers,” said Jeff Snell, Camas School District superintendent. “They’ve engaged in a rigorous certification process that takes a lot of time, effort, and reflection focused on delivering the best possible instructional experiences for our students.”
Of those 81 districts honored, 37 are located in Washington. The state gives certified teachers a $5,505 bonus each year, as well as an additional bonus for those who teach in high-poverty schools, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“I find the high level of engagement in your area and across Washington to be remarkable,” National Board spokesman Richard Klein said. “A National Board Certified Teacher in the school can change the school’s culture, because teachers see what it looks like to teach at the highest level.”
To qualify for National Board Certification, teachers must undergo a four-part application process, including a skills test, a portfolio proving they can build classroom lessons tailored for individual students, a video recording of their interactions with students and, throughout, self-reflection on their own teaching.
“The best professionals in any field look at what they do and try to get better every day,” Klein said.
Beth Lawson, an instructional coach at Crestline Elementary School who earned her certificate in 2014, said it was a “very intense” process that forced her to think about how she could improve her own teaching.
“It certainly says something about commitment,” Lawson said. “You really have to commit to examining your practice and making it public to a degree.”