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Teacher makes pitch to board for national program

February 04, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It was 27 years into Kay Cribbs' career when she first felt she was more than just a teacher, she said.

It was only when Cribbs became a National Board Certified Teacher in 1995 did she feel like a professional, she said.

A former Berkeley County teacher who now lives in Georgia, Cribbs spoke to the Berkeley County Board of Education at its meeting Monday night about the certification process, which is done by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

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Only 88 teachers in West Virginia hold the certification, none of whom are in the Eastern Panhandle. Three teachers in Berkeley County are trying to become certified, said Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon.

To become a National Board Certified Teacher, educators must undergo a rigorous testing process. Cribbs said conservative estimates put the amount of time needed to complete the work at 200 to 300 hours. Typically it takes a teacher six to eight months to earn certification, she said.

Informational sessions for teachers interested in the program are slated for today at 3:15 and 4:30 p.m. at Martinsburg High School. Details about the program and what is required to earn certification will be discussed, Cribbs said.

To begin the process, teachers must have a bachelor's degree, be certified in the state and have at least three years of teaching experience.

Of the teachers nationwide who try to gain the certification, 49 percent attain it, Cribbs said.

The state gives teachers with the certification an extra $2,500 a year. Bill Queen, president of the Berkeley County Board of Education, said that amount may be matched locally.

Certification is good for 10 years. County officials also are debating giving teachers $2,000 each year for the first five years, and $4,000 a year during the last five years, in addition to the state bonus, Queen said.

Cribbs, who mentors teachers undergoing the testing process, said the certification makes teachers more effective.

"It was the best thing that ever happened to me, or my students," she said. "It gave me even more passion for teaching, and I love teaching."

Because most teachers do the work needed for certification at home after school, Cribbs said she advocates counties giving their teachers two professional days off to perform some of the work. Counties also may give teachers professional development credit, she said.

An unbiased way to reward quality teachers, the program is one of which Cribbs said she could not speak highly enough.

"This is absolutely the best professional development a teacher can go through," she said.

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