Shelton was one of two teachers, the other being Agriculture teacher Karen Nolcox, who was waiting to she if she had met all the requirements of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She didn’t know they were supposed to be released that Friday. But when kindergarten teacher Pebbles Lancaster tried to get on the NBPTS Web site to get a reimbursement from the Board of Education, she noticed that the scores for the national certification candidates were posted. Lancaster was certified last year and was trying to take advantage of a recent board decision to reimburse successful candidates with their entry fee of $395.
Lancaster called Shelton to her room. Shelton said she couldn’t bear to click on her name and see for herself whether or not she had been successful.
“I said, ‘Pebbles, you gotta come here,’” Shelton said. “I ran away from the computer. I couldn’t do it.”
Before the students knew what hit them, Shelton and Lancaster were yelping in exultation. Other teachers came into the hallway to see if someone had been hurt. Once they found out what had really happened, they congratulated Shelton.
The same day, high school agriculture teacher Karen Nolcox received the same wonderful news. She said the experience of acquiring her certification in agriculture education had been nerve-wracking. Candidates for certification must choose a specialty and complete a series of videotaped classroom exercises, tests and portfolio entries to submit to the NBPTS. The process is quite grueling and teachers are warned that it is a three-year process. If a candidate is unsuccessful after the third try, he or she must not only start over again, but must also pay the steep entry fee for the second time. This is one reason why the Board voted to reimburse successful teachers. They wanted to motivate more of them to take the risk.
Nolcox said that although candidates can work with mentors who are certified teachers in nearby areas, there is no official feedback during the whole ordeal. Since there aren’t any nearby certified agriculture teachers, her mentor could really only tell her if she sounded like she knew what she was talking about in her essays. She said she still isn’t sure how she accomplished what she did. Unlike most candidates, she actually was successful on her first try. She has the added bonus of not having already gone to school to get her Rank One status. Being nationally certified automatically qualifies teachers as being Rank One, creating a significant bump in their salaries and opening them up for plenty of job opportunities.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.