District Leads State in National Board Certified Teachers

January 6, 2017 12:46 PM

Eight District teachers renewed their National Board Certification (NBC) in 2016, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The Cedar Rapids Community School District currently has 58 National Board Certified teachers in its classrooms – the highest number of any school district in Iowa!

A voluntary assessment program designed to develop, recognize, and retain accomplished teachers, National Board Certification (NBC) is achieved through a performance-based assessment that typically takes one to three years to complete. National Board Certified Teachers must successfully demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices. The process is recognized as a model for identifying accomplished teaching practice and is supported by teachers and administrators nationwide. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and hundreds of local school districts recognize National Board Certification as a mark of distinction.

“One of the most exciting dimensions of National Board Certification is that it is a process created by teachers, for teachers,” said Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent. “It is also important to note that it is a robust process that supports significant self-reflection on the part of the participants. It is a distinction of accomplished teaching and we are proud of those in our District who are Nationally Board Certified.”

District teachers who renewed their National Board Certification in 2016 are:

Patrick Cory has taught for 13 years and currently teaches history and social sciences at Kennedy High School. Cory earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University and his master’s degree from St. Scholastica in Duluth MN. 


“I pursued national board certification as a personal challenge for professional development,” he explained.


Amy Evans currently serves as the instructional design strategist at Coolidge Elementary School. During her 15 years in education, she has also taught at Van Buren Elementary and at the American International School in Abu Dhabi. Evans earned her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and her master’s degree from Drake University.


“I pursued national board certification to challenge myself,” she explained.


Cynthia Haring teaches second grade at Truman Elementary School. She is a 15-year educator and has also taught fourth and fifth grades, and served as a substitute teacher and teacher leader. Haring earned her bachelor’s degree from Central College and her master’s degree from Graceland College.


“Initially, I pursued NBC because it was a different way of continuing my professional growth,” Haring explained. “Completing my National Board Certification gave me the chance to reflect on my teaching, and think critically about the best practices for my students and their learning. Renewing my certification gave me the opportunity to renew my commitment to my students and my teaching.”


Kathy Hrubes teaches mathematics at Kennedy High School. A 24-year educator, she earned her undergraduate degree and is currently pursuing her master’s degree from Mount Mercy University.


“I was encouraged by a colleague to become nationally board certified and decided it was something I wanted to pursue in the hopes that I would become a better teacher and ultimately help students learn and meet their potential,” Hrubes explained. “The renewal process is a great self-evaluation and a chance to reflect on your teaching practices to see if they are effective and lead to student understanding.”


Tania Johnson is the resolution team facilitator for the District. She is a 26-year educator and previously taught kindergarten at Jackson and Coolidge elementary schools. She received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa.


“The first experience was stressful but extremely rewarding,” said Johnson of her recertification. “I feel it made me a better teacher and the process was one of the best professional learning experiences I have had. I am proud to be a National Board Certified Teacher.” 


Jennifer Olson currently teaches science at McKinley Middle School. A 16-year educator, she has also taught fourth grade at both Erskine and Madison elementary schools. Olson earned her undergraduate degree from Mount Mercy College and her master’s degree from Buena Vista University.


On why she chose to pursue national board certification Olson explained, “Ten years ago, I was in a place in my career where I did want to continue my education, but I wanted to put my effort into a program that would truly make me a better teacher. The NBC process forced me to reflect and make changes that directly impacted my instruction and student learning/success, so I decided it was the best fit for me.”


Melena Urbanowski is a 13-year educator and currently teaches first grade at Van Buren Elementary. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa. 


On why she originally chose to pursue national board certification, Urbanowski said,” I had my masters and this gave me a chance to reflect on my teaching and to dig deeper into my practices. I chose to recertify because I am planning on staying in the profession and wanted to maintain my reflective practices.”


Stacy Wacek is a Title 1 reading and math teacher at Arthur Elementary School. She has also served as a second grade level 1 special education teacher during her 17-year career. Wacek earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and her master’s degree from Marycrest University.


“I originally chose to pursue NBC to further develop myself as a teacher, knowing portions of the certification included reflections, videotaping myself teaching, and learning current practices in my field of literacy,” she explained. “I choose to renew because it had been 10 years since my certification.  Although I had taken multiple professional development courses throughout those years I still felt I would benefit from going through the renewal process.  I believed it would re-energize me as a teacher, learner, and a reflector.”



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