MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Eight Berkeley County Schools educators have joined 26 others on “top of the pile” by becoming National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT), the county’s board of education president said Tuesday in a recognition ceremony.
“From what I hear, it is absolutely grueling and I congratulate every one of you ...,” Berkeley County Board of Education President Bill Queen said of the performance-based assessment and testing required for certification, which can take as many as three years to complete.
Queen noted that Berkeley County ranks fourth among the state’s 55 counties for the number of teachers who have become nationally board certified and last fall’s addition of eight educators was the largest of any county.
Among the group to become certified last fall were former Berkeley County teachers of the year, Tuscarora Elementary School kindergarten teacher Candace Smith (2009) and Hedgesville High School math teacher Cindy Thomas (2007).
Also obtaining board certification were Martinsburg High School math teacher Kent Kraft, Musselman Middle School math teacher Myrtle Holland, Hedgesville Middle School music teacher Margaret Ponton, Berkeley Heights Elementary School first- and second-grade teachers Bethany Miller and Alanda Hall and Valley View Elementary School special education teacher April Rearick.
Only one board certified teacher has left the school district since the program began about six years ago, school officials said.
Thomas, who has taught for 32 years, said the support and encouragement she received from other people to become certified was “unbelievable.”
After being recognized as the county’s teacher of the year, Smith, who has taught for 27 years, said she set the goal for herself to “just give it a try.”
“I didn’t expect to pass it the first year, but I’m really glad I did,” said Smith, who described the certification process as “enlightening.”
Smith said the incentives were particularly attractive given her two daughters’ aspirations.
“One wants to be a (pediatrician) and one wants to be a dentist — I need it,” Smith said.
“Money never hurts,” Thomas added.
Berkeley County teachers who become certified receive a $3,000 pay increase from the school district for the first five years of the 10-year certification and $5,000 for the second five years, according to Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II.
The state provides an additional $3,500 pay increase for obtaining certification.
“It’s the best professional development you can have,” said Anne Laskey, who coordinates the county’s national board certification program and teaches math at Hedgesville High School.
Laskey lauded Arvon’s support of the program.
“The greatest thing that we can give our children in this community is a fantastic teacher standing in front of them each and every day,” Arvon said before each of the newly board-certified educators were presented with a certificate by school board members. “This is a really big thing for us.”