Thirteen District teachers achieved or renewed their National Board Certification in 2014, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The District currently has 58 National Board Certified Teachers, the most 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.
NBC 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.
“I am pleased to congratulate the District educators who have taken it upon themselves to work to meet these high standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review,” said Dr. Dave Benson, Superintendent.
District teachers who earned or renewed their National Board Certification in 2014 are:
ELIZABETH ALTEMEIER has served in the District for nine years and is currently teaching first grade at Grant Wood Elementary School. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a reading endorsement from Drake University.
“I wanted to continue my education while looking deeply into my teaching practices and to be able to find and deliver a reason behind those practices,” she explained. “I expect that this professional development will be a powerful tool for me in the decisions that I make for my classroom and my school. I will look at strategies and approaches in teaching in a more purposeful manner and help me become a more effective teacher.”
ASHLEE CORVER teaches second grade at Cleveland Elementary School. She has been with the District for nine years. Corver earned her undergraduate degree from Luther College and her master’s degree from the University of Iowa.
“I wanted to do something that would challenge me to take a deeper look at my instructional practice,” she explained. “It has made me think about why I do things in the classroom. What is the intended learning, how am I meeting needs of all students, why am I choosing a specific strategy for a skill, how am I making sure the learning target is met, etc. I question things and I reflect more often than I did prior to doing the NBC process, and I think it’s given me a deeper insight into my instructional practice.”
JESSICA EGLY is a 10-year veteran of the District and currently teaches at Grant Wood Elementary School. She earned her undergrad degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
Pursuing the NBC was a logical next step in her professional development, according to Egly. “The purpose of each lesson and activity I plan and how it impacts every student has become the forefront of my teaching and directly impacts student achievement,” she said. “This process
has had the greatest impact in my teaching and will continue to influence the educational decisions I make for years to come.”
DIANNA GEERS is a 23-year veteran of the District and serves as teacher librarian at Harding Middle School. She received her undergraduate degree from Mount Mercy University and earned two masters degrees from the University of Iowa.
Geers chose to pursue NBC as a way to better examine and reflect on her own practices. “Becoming a National Board Certified teacher gives me confidence in my current practices, but also has taught me better ways to evaluate what I'm doing and continually search for ways to improve,” she noted. “Applying these reflective practices will help me continue to hone and improve as I work with other staff, students, families and the community.
AMY HARGER has been an educator with the District for seven years and is currently serving as a special education instructional strategist at Franklin Middle School, Jefferson High School, and Metro High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Coe College and a master’s degree from Morningside College.
“The professional development from NBC helped to guide me towards being a more reflective teacher,” Harger noted. “I was provided opportunities to carefully review student background and past achievement data and analyze the students’ unique needs to design instruction that was effective for individual students. I was also provided opportunities to reflect on lesson delivery and student achievement to determine what changes needed to be made to instruction. This has positively impacted my instruction by helping it become much more purposeful and targeted to the students’ needs.”
BRAD HORTON is a 12-year educator in the District. He currently teaches biology and AP biology at Kennedy High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.
“The process of National Board Certification made me reflect on what I do as a teacher as well as what students do in my classroom,” Horton explained. “Teaching and learning require both the teacher and the student to be actively involved. The process allowed me to reflect on these roles and to determine an appropriate balance. I will be better prepared to provide my students an education that leads them toward understanding.”
JEN HORTON joined the District four years ago and currently teaches science at Kennedy High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from Luther College and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa.
“I looked at it (NBC) as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and reflect on my own teaching practices in a more structured way,” Horton explained. “The process is about evaluating my performance as a teacher and modifying instruction as needed to improve student learning. This reflective process is ongoing. NBC is one way to evaluate evidence of student learning and assess my own teaching practices.”
IAN KLEMAN is a 12-year educator in the District and currently teaches physics and AP physics at Washington High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana University from Indiana University.
“NBC is really about reflection of professional practice, in order to maximize student learning,” Kleman explained. “This focus gives me the opportunity to incorporate well-established pedagogy into the classroom as well as pursue new ideas. The process of certification leads to new insight about instruction, assessment and what students need in order to succeed. In the near term, I will be incorporating more electronic data collection into student lab work and, over time, I hope to bring this same, lab-based approach to the mathematics classroom.”
GRETCHEN LAWLER has taught in the District for 11 years and is currently a fifth grade teacher at Erskine Elementary School. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Mount Mercy University and a master’s degree from Graceland University.
Lawler noted that pursuing NBC allowed her to strengthen and challenge her current teaching practices. “During this professional development, I became more reflective about my practice and how my instruction directly impacted student learning,” she said. “I saw my own teaching get stronger and watched student growth increase dramatically. By continuing to be the reflective teacher I transformed into during this process, I hope to advance student achievement in a way that will allow all students to reach the levels of success that they deserve.”
DENISE MELCHERT is a 26-year educator in the District and currently teaches mathematics at Harding Middle School. She earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell College and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
“The NBC recertification process was extremely rewarding to me in that it validated what I was doing in the classroom as high quality instruction,” Melchert noted. “I believe my learning as a teacher through this process will challenge me to continue to grow as an educator. As a classroom teacher, it is critical to always ask, ‘Why am I doing this activity, and how will it help my students learning?’ The NBC process reaffirmed this essential question for me and I continue to use that as a guiding force when developing and planning lessons.”
TIFFANY ORR is a 14-year veteran of the District and currently teaches kindergarten at Arthur Elementary School. She received her undergraduate degree and endorsements from Mount Mercy University and her master’s degree from the University of Iowa.
Her decision to pursue NBC was based on her belief that high-quality instruction is a powerful factor in student achievement. “I knew that becoming a National Board Certified teacher would further my own continuous improvement and professional growth as an educator, benefiting every student in my class for the remainder of my career,” she noted. “The rigorous certification process has resulted in improvements to my teaching, thus helping to meet all learner needs through data-driven, learner-focused teaching based on best practices.”
HALLI SANFORD-RYAN is in her second year with the District. She serves as counselor at Cleveland Elementary School. Sanford-Ryan earned her undergraduate degree from Grand View University and master degrees from Drake University.
“I pursued the NBC to push myself to higher levels of professional performance and development,” she said. “Earning the NBC sparked my interest in leadership and counseling advocacy. I hope to become more involved in building, district and community leadership. In addition, I will use my experience earning the NBC to meet the ever changing needs of students and families.”
MOLLY SOFRANKO joined the District six years ago and currently teaches visual art at Metro High School. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa.
“I pursued NBC because I was unsure where I wanted to pursue my masters and I wanted relevant professional development that challenged my teaching practice,” Sofranko explained. “Since completing the process I do a better job of differentiating my instruction to fit individual students’ learning styles. I have become very aware of how each student project is geared toward student learning, and the importance of authentic formative assessments.”