Some Big Island teachers have been recognized for meeting the profession’s highest standards.
The state Department of Education is celebrating teachers across the state who earned or renewed their National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification.
Big Island teachers who received the certification include Ana Bingham from Mountain View Elementary, Catherine Hawkins from Innovations Public Charter School, and Natalie Lalagos and Justin Brown from Kealakehe High School. Scott Oberg from Keonepoko Elementary renewed his certification.
The teachers were recognized during a ceremony last week at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus in Keaau.
“It was a lot of work that was well worth it,” Lalagos, a Spanish teacher, said following the ceremony.
“I’ve grown a lot in my teaching practice, and I’ve learned a lot through the National Board certification process.”
Lalagos, who is in her fifth year teaching and also spent three years as an instructional coach, said it took her a year to get her certification.
The National Board certification is a great opportunity for educators to learn and grow as teachers, she said.
“I think as a teacher, it really helped me reflect on my practice and how I could influence my teaching practice in the classroom. … I teach Spanish, so it really helped me how to better incorporate language acquisition and intercultural competencies into the same lesson and how to blend those things successfully with students.”
According to the DOE, to earn or retain this certification, educators must be up-to-date with the latest strategies and best practices in education.
It is a rigorous process that can take anywhere between one to three years and involves applicants submitting a comprehensive portfolio.
The renewal process is just as demanding, requiring teachers to demonstrate professional growth.
Ana Bingham, reading specialist at Mountain View Elementary, said she’s passionate about reading “and I just wanted to go to the next level. … Especially our kids in Hawaii, we need readers, we need to be reading to succeed, and so I thought, ‘OK, this is the next level of where I need to be’ to deliver my message to the kids and to work with them.”
Bingham, who has been an educator since 2002 and at Mountain View for 11 years, has worked over the past several years to achieve the certification, and said she missed it by just a few points last year, which was “heartbreaking.”
To achieve the goal this year, “it’s a relief that it’s over, that I did it, but mostly I can’t believe I did it,” she said, adding that the process is difficult.
“I think it’s harder than giving birth,” Bingham said. “ … It’s really hard. You have to put the time. You have to put the effort. You have to really show how you’re making a difference in this child. You have to show growth.”
Rochelle Tamiya, a Waiakea High School science teacher who also served as emcee, received her own National Board certification five years ago and lauded the process, which she said was rigorous, “but so worth it.”
“You go in thinking one way and you come out just being awed and floored,” she said. “Your whole pedagogical belief of education just changes. … It’s a lot of work, but for me it was so worth it. I totally changed the way I taught after I came out of National Board Certification.”
She’s up for re-certification in five years.
“It’s not one of those things where (it’s like) ‘I have to get re-certified in five years, I better start thinking about it,’” Tamiya said. “You just change the way you teach, you change the way you believe about student learning in general. … I thought it was the best thing to happen to me in education.”
Hilo-Waiakea Complex Area Superintendent Esther Kanehailua said the certification is a “huge investment in terms of this person is committing themselves in that way to the profession and has chosen to invest their time, their energy, their family … but they’re willing to do all of that to better themselves so that they can be better for kids.”
Email Stephanie Salmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.