A partnership between the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has produced West Virginia’s first 17 National Board Certified pre-K teachers from the grant’s cohort. The pre-K teachers work in classrooms across 12 counties throughout the state.
“We have long considered National Board Certification to be the gold standard for quality teaching,” said Jim Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. “It’s very hard to achieve, and it takes a lot of support for those educators who seek that certification.”
The partnership, which produced what’s known as the LLNBC program, was created through a grant from the Benedum Foundation called “Literacy Leadership through National Board Certification: Strengthening Teaching in West Virginia’s Preschool Classrooms.” The goal of the LLNBC program was to provide the State’s top pre-K teachers with access to professional development in early literacy education, which would ultimately lead to the successful completion of the National Board Certification process.
Led by Allison Swan Dagen and Aimee Morewood, both associate professors in WVU’s literacy education graduate program, the LLNBC program provided participating pre-K teachers with two graduate literacy courses, as well as access to a system of CEHS-affiliated mentors who had completed the National Board Certification in the past. The program, offered fully online and at no cost to the participants, allowed teachers in any West Virginia county to complete their coursework virtually and connect with Swan Dagen and Morewood through video chats.
“The online community that we built across the state was amazing, and it gave teachers who are somewhat isolated access to WVU,” Morewood said. “It has given us connections in a lot of counties that we didn’t have before, and it’s really been a form of outreach for us.”
To become National Board Certified teachers, candidates completed a rigorous, four-part submission process that required them to reflect on classroom instruction, student assessment data and literacy content knowledge. Teachers were required to write detailed reflections on their practice and film themselves teaching to identify areas for improvement.
“I was grateful for the entire process,” said Nicole Majewski, an LLNBC program participant and teacher in Marshall County. “I knew that I wanted to increase my knowledge base of teaching to students’ needs, but didn’t know where I wanted to go. This opportunity has helped me mold myself into a reflective practitioner who knows how to look at her practice, understand methods of teaching that are appropriate for students and fine-tune that. I can’t say how much it impacted my professional development.”
Majewski, one of the 17 teachers who earned her National Board Certification, will now be eligible for incentives at the state and county levels. In West Virginia, all teachers who attain National Board Certification receive a salary increase, and additional benefits are offered on a county-by-county basis.
Pre-K students throughout the state will now also benefit from highly trained educators in literacy, at a critical stage of their literacy development. According to Denova, the impact of this quality literacy instruction will be significant for the State’s economy years after these students complete their pre-K programs.
“The workforce is a key ingredient to economic development, and literacy is a fundamental workforce attribute,” Denova said.
“We are very lucky to be part of this network of teachers and to have an impact on improving the quality of education in West Virginia,” Swan Dagen added. “This is the highest you can go in certification and teaching.”
CONTACT: Lindsey Kudaroski
College of Education and Human Services