Teacher Earns Special National Certification

(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff

Upon hearing about three Beloit Memorial High School educators joining two other district teachers to earn prestigious National Board Certification (NBC), the School District of Beloit recently learned of one other teacher earning this honor.

Rachel Braun joins a small, but growing, group of educators dedicated to raising student achievement. The district now has six National Board Certified teachers. Braun joins District Reading Specialist Cyntha Slavish, and BMHS teachers Heidi Andre, Christopher Behrens, Lyman Elliott and Matt Flynn.

Braun is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Gaston Elementary School. She is in her ninth year of teaching, with five of those years serving in the the district. She received her bachelors degree from Tuscon University in Arizona, and her masters degree from Northern Illinois University.

Deciding to go into the teaching profession was an easy one, according to Braun. While her parents were not educators, their strong belief in education being a ticket for people to achieve success resonated strongly with her, and remains her inspiration. Her love of language and the bridges it builds resulted in Braun choosing ESL as her teaching focus.

The strict standards for her NBC in ESL helped hone her skills, but were always in line with her philosophy for teaching. The fact that she had to prove why her instructional strategies work were at once validation for her teaching and helpful in further improving her strategies.

She emphasized that the process is helpful in validating the professionalism of a career in education, but ultimately benefits the students in the classroom.

“The process is designed so that you don’t stop growing as a teacher,” she explains.

In fact, while learning much during her years working on her bachelors and masters degrees, she notes the NBC process has been the most valuable to her growth as an educator.

Like others before her, Braun initially found the intense process of receiving National Board Certification daunting. However, the district’s commitment to supporting NBC candidates and the strong mentoring system in place made the option much less intimidating.

“I am extremely proud of our district for supporting educators undertaking certification. It speaks well of our administration,” she says.

Having a young child at home, she also wanted to credit her husband for his support.

NBC indicates a teacher is more than highly qualified, demonstrating not only content knowledge and teaching methods, but deeper understanding of multiple content areas and overwhelming proof of increased student achievement as a result of the teacher’s instructional strategies.

Only 1-2 percent of the state’s teachers have this highest certification; less than 3 percent of teachers nationwide have achieved this level.

The process involves completing four portfolio entries, combining written assessments and video samples of the teachers in the classroom, to provide judges the proof of each candidates’ eligibility to receive this top certification. The process is voluntary; a little over a third of the participants pass on their first attempt. Certificates are only valid for 10 years, requiring NBC teachers to continue their professional growth and excellent instruction.