Shelburne earns National Board Certification

Published 10:17 am Monday, January 16, 2012

If Brewton Middle School seventh grade science teacher Vanessa Shelburne could sum up her National Board Certification process for Professional Teaching Standards, it could easily be: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
After trying two times unsuccessfully, Shelburne recently accomplished the advanced teaching credential on her third and final time to become one of three other certified teachers in the Brewton City School system.
Shelburne joins Heidi Knapp of Brewton Elementary, Julia Clements of T.R. Miller High School and Cindy Ward of Brewton Middle School as national board certified teachers.
“I am in my 10th year of teaching and all ten years have been at Brewton Middle School,” Shelburne said. “Going into education was not intentional. I did get an education degree originally when I was in college, along with a biology degree, upon the advice of my mother who is a teacher. I had that for many years and I worked in industry, research and various other jobs. When we came to Brewton, I substituted some in the system and that evolved a teaching position and I have been happy since.”
Shelburne said the self-improvement from the National Board Certification is what piqued her interest.
“Self-improvement and the reflection on your own teaching practices made me go after it,” she said. “I always feel as if I have room for improvement and it was kind of funny because I did not know how much involved it was going to be. But, it really has benefited me as a teacher to identify my strengths and weaknesses.”
Shelburne said some of the processes of getting the certification include four portfolios including two, which require the teacher to videotape themselves teaching.
“All of them require lengthy writing assessments of your teaching strategies and techniques,” she said. “Then there is a pretty rigorous test you have to take in addition to those. The National Board process lasts from one to three years to complete and it took me the full three years.”
Shelburne said all of her work had to be turned in by April, with the results not being posted until November. But even in November, her scores were delayed due to computer server problems, which made things more nerve-racking.
“I was relieved and elated,” Shelburne said of learning she had passed. “I was very pleased, but then I had a sense of now what? I think the now what is to offer myself as a resource or a mentor to someone who might think they would like to pursue the National Board. I didn’t realize initially what my weakest areas were, but it became very apparent when I got into the process. My weak areas just happened to be areas that our school and the state of Alabama is focusing on which is differentiated instruction.”
Shelburne said that worked out well for her because as she was growing through the National Board process, she was growing through professional development at the school.
“I think the whole thing has been worthwhile for me,” she said. “I would be happy to tell about my experience or sit down with someone and guide them towards resources and just encourage.”
As a part of the certification process, candidates complete 10 assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certified areas.
The assessments include four portfolio entries that feature teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge.
Shelburne earned the certification in the area of early adolescence and science. The certification takes one to three years to complete with an estimated 300 hours of work required.
In 2011, 6,266 teachers became National Board Certified teachers through the NBPTS bringing the total number of teachers nationwide to 97,291. Alabama had 123 teachers certified in 2010-2011 for a total of 2,133.

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About Adam Robinson

My name is Adam Robinson and I have been the Sports Editor of the Brewton Standard since September 2007. I cover all the local sports in the Brewton area. I am a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism with a contract in Sports Information. I married Shari Lynn in June of 2007 and we welcomed our first child, Hatlee, in April of 2010.

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