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Haywood among top school districts nationwide

Haywood among top school districts nationwide

Haywood County Schools has made the list of National Board Accomplished Districts recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. 

“We are proud to be among the top districts nationwide being recognized as National Board Accomplished Districts. We know that teachers drive student learning. One of the ways we work to assure students have access to the best teachers is to encourage teachers to become National Board Certified. These teachers clearly teach to high standards and reflect on their practice to get better every day,” said Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte.

The National Board honored 79 school districts from around the United States in which at least 20 percent of its teachers have achieved National Board Certification. In Haywood County Schools, over 30 percent of teachers have achieved National Board Certification. 

“I think most of our teachers are called to teach,” said Nolte. “I think most of our people believe that this is what they’re called to do and what they’re supposed to do. And most of them want to be better. And some of them are willing to commit the energy it takes to be nationally board certified.” 

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a national organization that strives to advance the quality of teaching and learning through its certification program. 

According to Jason Heinz, human resources director for Haywood County Schools, the national board certification has been recognized as the highest form of training for public school teachers. This is because the program forces participants to reflect on their teaching and how to improve it. 

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The process of certification takes about one year. Teachers work through a large packet of requirements and information, consulting with coaches and experts along the way. Teachers are required to create lesson plans, film themselves teaching, then watch, reflect and learn from the tapes. 

“You learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about how you teach and about how you can be a more effective teacher,” said Heinz. 

In North Carolina, teachers who earn the National Board Certification receive an automatic 12 percent pay raise, paid for by the state. Previously, North Carolina used to pay for teachers to earn their master’s degree. For classroom teachers, that program ended in 2013.

“Since North Carolina has stopped paying for master’s degrees, as far as increased pay, this was really the only option that teachers have to improve their skills and get a pay raise,” said Heinz. 

Haywood County Schools is unique in that it provides its teachers with substantial support to aid in achieving National Board Certification. HCS uses some of its Title II money, funds that come from the federal government for teacher training and teacher improvement, to help teachers pay the fees for certification. HCS also pays a few retired teachers to assist those seeking certification throughout the school year, coach them through the certification process and help them in developing their portfolios.

The National Board Coordinator for Haywood County Schools is Joy Sollie. Sandra Strahan and Lynn Carter serve as National Board Consultants. 

“Dr. Nolte has been really good, and the board has been really good to let me prioritize that money for this purpose. We’ve been able to do somewhere between 20 and 40 teachers a year,” said Heinz. 

According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the National Board Certification has a big impact on student performance. Research shows that students of board certified teachers learn more than those of non-certified teachers, and that the impact is even greater among low-income and high-need students. 

“We’ve got about 500 teachers right now. We’ve got a little over 200 that are certified. And so we’re working to close in on all levels. We’d like to have them all certified at some point,” said Heinz. 

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