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Profiles in National Board Certification

Meet Rhonda Hale - Teacher, Mentor, Local Prez

Rhonda Hale NEA member Rhonda Hale, a National Board Certified teacher, answers questions about the certification process and how it has affected her practice.

Rhonda Hale of Prospect, Kentucky, doesn't let any blue grass grow under her feet. She just keeps on meeting challenges and stacking up awards. In 2000 -- when Hale was both a middle school teacher and the local association president -- she added National Board

Certification to her list of accomplishments. Here is how Hale described the experience.

Why did you pursue National Board Certification?
I had not considered National Board Certification (NBC) as a professional goal -- until my district became a pilot site for an NBC initiative in Kentucky.

The state was looking for ways to compensate teachers for their knowledge and pedagogical skills. They selected NBC, because it is the most rigorous process for teacher certification tied to student learning and it is research based. Our district was selected as the pilot group for the state.

I decided to go through the NBC process during the pilot stage to see how it would compare to my Masters and Rank I experiences. And I wanted to experience firsthand what we were asking our teachers to embrace.

What was it like? Difficult? In what ways?
The year I started the certification process was a time of great personal and professional change. I had taught elementary school for 27 years and needed a change, so I took a middle school position in my district. I began teaching social studies to sixth graders on a block schedule in a different school with new curriculum. 

Any one of these changes would have presented a challenge, so going through the certification process made for an even tougher year. I was also serving as the vice-president of my local association, which serves nine counties and several independent schools. When our presiding president passed away, I assumed the role of president, adding to my leadership responsibilities. It was an intense, challenging time. Yet, it was the perfect time to look at my practice because of the changes I was experiencing in the workplace. 

Waiting patiently for the results of the yearlong effort was probably one of the most difficult parts of the certification experience. 

Did the process impact your teaching?   Impact anything else?
Absolutely! The process impacted not only my daily practice of teaching, but also every part of how I think as an educator. I think about my practice in a deeper way and I take the time to reflect daily on why I teach the way I do. 

I'm constantly thinking about making the classroom more conducive to learning and motivating students to take some ownership of their learning. I've always understood the importance of setting appropriate goals for students and moving them toward identified goals, but now I'm even more conscientious about the process of setting goals to help students experience optimum growth and learning.

Being a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) does get you some recognition. Colleagues look at "board certified" teachers in a different way. Late one afternoon, I noticed a colleague watching me from the hallway. I asked if I could help her and she replied, "I just wanted to see what a National Board teacher looks like." While visiting another school, I noticed a list of NBCT displayed in the teacher work area.

How has becoming an NBCT affected your Association leadership?
It has enhanced my leadership potential and my resolve to give back to the profession.

I have served the Association in many capacities over the years. Membership has afforded me some of the most valuable experiences in professional development. It has allowed me to become better at helping others both inside and outside the schoolhouse. It has allowed me to work with colleagues at the local, district, state, and national levels. Support I've received from both NEA staff (grants) and KEA staff has enabled me to help candidates as they work through the National Board process.      

What would you say to others about NBC?
National Board Certification is one of several ways educators can move their practice to a higher level. The process does not suit every educator, but it has been worthwhile for me. It is a rigorous process and not without challenges; but challenges, whether personal or professional, present opportunities for growth. 

The experience has afforded me opportunities that no other professional activity has. The most worthwhile benefit is one I never expected. I learned a great deal about the person I am, and the kind of professional I want to be. And that kind of knowledge is priceless!

Rhonda Hale teaches sixth grade social studies at North Oldham Middle School in Oldham County, Kentucky. In her 30 years of teaching, she has won many grants and accolades. She has won grants for both environmental education and the arts in education. Her county named her Elementary Teacher of the Year and Conservation Teacher of the Year, and in 2002, her school named her Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Since becoming certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist in 2000, Hale has served the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a delegate to Australia and New Zealand, as an assessor and scorer of portfolio entries, and as a mentor for candidates in Kentucky. She served as president of the Kentucky Association for National Board Certified Teachers during the 2002-2003 school year, and she will serve on its board during the coming year.


Other Profiles of National Board Certified Teachers

» NBC Brings New Leadership Roles  -- Teacher Tom White enjoys the challenges. (Washington)

» NBC: An Opportunity to Give Back to the Community -- Read about NBC Teacher Julie Hutcheson-Downwind. (Minnesota) 

» A Great Adventure and the Chance of a Lifetime -- Find out more about NBC teacher Katherine Wright Knight. (Arkansas)

» More Meaningful Than Master's Degree Work -- Says National Board Certified Teacher Barbara Grogg. (Delaware)

» Certification Was Pivotal Point in Her Career -- Says National Board Certified Teacher Linda Edwards. (Colorado)