TACOMA, Wash. (March 2, 2015)—Displaying their vocational passion for teaching, 35 Pacific Lutheran University alumni graduated from the 2014 class of National Board Certified Teachers, making PLU ninth in the nation for graduates who choose to become NBCTs.
“This is an affirmation of our program,” said Frank Kline, Dean of PLU’s Department of Education. “It’s something that I feel proud about.”
Dannielle Hanson, who graduated from PLU with a bachelor’s degree in 2008 and a master’s in Teaching in 2010, is a member of the acknowledged NBCT class. She’s now a sixth-grade teacher at Cougar Mountain Middle School in Graham. She’s been teaching there for three years, but this is her fifth year in the profession.
“I learned about really becoming a good writer at PLU. I had some really good professors who really pushed me,” Hanson said.
While at PLU, Hanson studied English Language Arts. This prepared her well for the National Board Certification, she said.
“The content part was not hard, and it was not hard because I had that content background.”
To teach in Washington, applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree, acquire teaching credentials and pass numerous background checks before earning a residency teaching certificate. When that expires (after about four years), teachers have a choice: move on to gain a ProTeach Professional Certification, or go through the more-rigorous program to receive a certificate from the National Board of Professional Teacher Standards, awarding them the title of a National Board Certified Teacher.
The NBCT process consists of four parts, involving analysis and reflection in writing as well as submitted videos and student work samples. Applicants also submit documentation of impact and accomplishments as education professionals.
Kline said PLU’s Department of Education prepares students well for this process, as they go through intensive writing work, analyze their work through video and develop a strong content knowledge.
“If you don’t know how to do a bubble sheet right, you can’t do the Scantron test,” he said. And teachers who don’t know how to work with video or can’t write eloquently aren’t sufficiently prepared.
Thankfully, a PLU education thoroughly equips graduates with those skills—and more.
Kline said PLU graduates leave with a great mentality, and that’s why they choose to go through this rigorous process.
“The kinds of skills and attitudes of reflecting on their practice—this lines up directly with the mission of PLU: ‘building lives of thoughtful inquiry,’” Kline said. “Those are the kinds of intellectual skills and the kinds of knowledges that we seek and the values that we seek to impart.”
Hanson said she isn’t surprised, either, that so many Lutes choose to go through the NBCT process.
“I think [PLU] graduate[s] people who are serious about what [we] do. [We’re] focused on that whole idea of vocation,” she said. “We want to go into this process because we want to be better. We want to be the best people we can be, the best teachers we can be—and being the best means going through the hardest things and coming out the other side having learned something.”