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Three Washington County teachers receive national certification

January 16, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Joni Rouse worked for 26 years as an administrative assistant for Washington County Public Schools until eight years ago, when she decided to move from behind a desk to the front of a classroom.

The fourth-grade teacher at Old Forge Elementary has been teaching locally since 2000.

Rouse said it was having her own children, being involved as a parent and especially her desire to challenge herself that caused her to switch careers.

Rouse pushed herself again when she attained National Board Certification recently. She and two other Washington County Public Schools teachers - Jennifer Blum and Mary Brown - were honored for their achievement during a reception Tuesday.

Blum is a third-grade magnet teacher at Williamsport Elementary, and Brown teaches English, French and SAT preparation at Clear Spring High.

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National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program that certifies teachers who meet stringent standards. Kris Pearl, staff development specialist, said the certification is an opportunity for teachers to be better at their profession.

There are now 20 National Board certified teachers in Washington County Public Schools.

"It's easy to support you when you're willing to go above and beyond," Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan told the newly board-certified teachers.

Certification is a lengthy and rigorous process that includes submission of an extensive portfolio and assessment of knowledge in content areas. Some candidates take up to three years to complete the process, officials said.

"My goal is to be the best teacher I can be," Blum said.

Through the process, she said she learned to be more flexible, to have more patience and about the compassion of her students.

Brown said she also viewed certification as a way to improve her teaching. Brown said an additional incentive to complete the program was the scholarship she received from Washington County Public Schools.

Pearl said the $2,500 application fee was paid for both of them after a selection process. Three similar scholarships are distributed each year.

Rouse said the certification process has changed the way she teaches. She no longer even considers herself a teacher.

"I'm a facilitator of learning," she said.

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