Rigorous process takes months to complete

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FARMINGTON — Nine teachers from school districts in San Juan County earned their National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards this month.

The rigorous certification process takes months to complete. It requires teachers to complete components that examine areas such as competence, instructional strategies and how he or she analyze and use data in the classroom.

The process and certification are designed to help teachers advance student learning in the classroom.

Earning the certification were Mary Alonzo, Christina Arnett, Jessica Carlisle, Cindy Colomb, Mary Keeler, Chelsie Wallace and Courtney Weidner from the Farmington Municipal School District.

Also earning the accomplishment were Cassandra Brown from the Aztec Municipal School District and Donna Fernandez from Navajo Preparatory School.

Fernandez has taught math courses for seven years at Navajo Prep. This year, she has taken on a leadership position as the international baccalaureate program coordinator.

She said the process was challenging, but she worked through it by attending training, completing online tests and listening to feedback.

"The thing that they always emphasize is it allows teachers to know themselves better and know their teaching," Fernandez said about the program.

She added she shared the good news with her parents in California moments after finding out she passed on Dec. 1.

"I said on Facebook 'overwhelming joy,'" Fernandez said.

While it can take a teacher up to three years to navigate the accreditation process, Alonzo completed it in just one year.

Alonzo, who teaches math and algebra II at Piedra Vista High School, started the process in April 2017.

"I was kind of in shock," she said about the result.

The accreditation process requires teachers to submit videos of themselves in the classroom, a process that helped Alonzo to reflect on her style of teaching and her delivery of lessons to students.

"Recording that opened my eyes," Alonzo said.

Colomb teaches sixth- and seventh-grade science at Hermosa Middle School.

She said the certification was more intense than expected and more challenging than when she was earning a master's degree. The process took Colomb four years to complete because it required her to articulate her teaching style in a "snapshot."

She had to redo two components after receiving the results of her first submission, but she did not back down from completion.

"I can't start something and not finish it," Colomb said with a smile.

"The requirements had me looking more microscopically at what I'm doing, everything that I do in a 50-minute classroom," she said adding that examination included everything from classroom management to differentiating between the needs of individual students.

There were 69 teachers in New Mexico who received the designation this year, according to the New Mexico National Board Certified Teachers Network.

A press release from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards states there were 3,907 teachers who earned the certification.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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