Akimel A-al Middle School

Akimel A-al Middle School teacher Katherine Riley, center, celebrates her national certification with, from left, academic interventionist Amy Ordonez, Superintendent Jan Vesely, certified professional development coordinator Jo Shurman and academic/behavioral specialist Stephani Wickwire.


Two Kyrene School District employees are among the four new teachers who are newly certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching standards.

The addition of  Katherine Riley, an Akimel A-al Middle School teacher, and Ahwatukee resident Sharyn Weinheimer  brings to 53 the number of teachers with national certification, according to the board. Also earning national certification at Kyrene were Julie Hackmann, visual and performing arts coordinator, and Hannah Parnell, a teacher at Mirada Leadership Academy in Chandler.

Kyrene Superintendent Jan Vesely praised their achievement, noting it can take years of study and demonstrating in various ways their competency before a teacher earns national certification.

Only 1,460 teachers out of about 50,000 in Arizona have national board certification and another 664 in the state are candidates. Currently more than 118,000 teachers nationwide are certified – representing less than 5 percent of all teachers in the country.

Weinheimer is a coordinator of the district’s multii-tiered systems of support, which provides academic, behavioral and social-emotional learning intervention.

While it can take years to earn certification, the process allows teachers to sharpen their practice, showcase their talent in the classroom and demonstrate their dedication to students and their profession.

It also benefits them as well as students, according to the board’s website, noting that certification “opens doors” to new opportunities and advancement and qualifies them for more pay.

“A decade of research shows that students of board-certified teachers learn more than their peers without board-certified teachers,” the board says, adding that “the positive impact of having a board-certified teacher is even greater for minority and low-income students.”

Certification is awarded to teachers who can demonstrate proficiency and achievement in line with the “five core propositions” that the board – made up of teachers – have patterned after medicine’s Hippocratic Oath.

Those propositions involve a commitment to students and their learning; a knowledge of the subjects they teach and how to teach them; a responsibility for managing and monitoring student learning; a systematic approach to their practice and ability to learn from experience; and membership in learning communities that exchange ideas about, and approaches to, teaching for professional development.

National Board Standards “define what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do” in 25 different academic areas, the board states. “They represent 16 different subject areas and four developmental levels and are applicable to most teachers in U.S. public schools.”

The standards are developed by committees of classroom teachers as well as experts in child development, teacher education and relevant disciplines.

And candidates can only achieve certification if they “exhibit a deep understanding of their students, content knowledge, use of data and assessments and teaching practice” and “provide evidence of ongoing reflection and continuous learning.”

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