By Stacy Henrie
Each year, teachers go through the voluntary process of rigorous certification under the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, but only 50% of them will actually certify.
“They want to show they are accomplished professionals,” said Patricia Wheeler, Vice President-Marketing and Communications-for the NBPTS.
The NBPTS is a non-profit, independent organization that promotes accomplished teaching, Wheeler said.
There are currently 16,037 teachers certified throughout the United States, she said.
According to the NBPTS records, Utah has only 14 nationally certified teachers-two from the Alpine School District received certification in 2001.
Evan Whitaker is a science teacher at Pleasant Grove Junior High.
“I was at a point in my career that I wanted to see how I measured up to national standards,” Whitaker said.
Creating the required portfolio for certification took most of a year, 200 to 300 hours, he said.
Whitaker also said he had to take four 90-minute tests.
“I feel like I got a better handle on the teaching profession,” Whitaker said. “There was not an aspect of my teaching that wasn”t touched.”
Whitaker said the most rewarding part of the certification process was the hours spent in reflection.
“I came to know myself and my students,” he said.
Whitaker”s wife and his determination to see it through kept him going during the certification process, he said.
On his 17th year teaching at the Pleasant Grove High School, he said he enjoys working with the kids the most.
Axel Ramirez, vice principal at Lakeridge Junior High, teaches one class of history there. Ramirez said he was interested in certifying when he heard the state office was offering scholarships.
“I had never been evaluated by my peers,” he said. “I wanted to see where I stood professionally.”
Ramirez said it also took him about a year to complete the certification process.
Through the process, he was able to turn his assumptions of his teaching skills into validations, he said.
Ramirez had a good friend who helped him through the process, but mostly he was by himself to keep going, he said.
“I went out alone with the idea that I wanted to see where I stood,” he said.
He taught eighth grade before becoming a teacher on special assignment, he said.
Ramirez said the kids are what he enjoys the most about teaching.
He said he believes in really letting the students show their stuff.