The Port Townsend and Chimacum school districts recently recognized the National Board Certified teachers on their staff.
Port Townsend Schools Superintendent John Polm honored teachers during a board meeting Jan. 17. Two earned national board certification this year, and two others successfully renewed their certification.
Sara Rubenstein, director of communications for the Port Townsend School District, said there are 12 National Board Certified teachers in the district.
The most recent additions in Port Townsend are Salish Coast Elementary fourth-grade teacher Lisa Olsen and Port Townsend High School Spanish teacher Cara Kasperson.
The two teachers who renewed their certification are Blue Heron Middle School social studies teacher Leslie Shively and Port Townsend High School English teacher Thomas Gambill.
Rubenstein said candidates must assess their knowledge, reflect on student work samples, analyze their teaching practice and document the impact of their assessment and collaboration on their students’ learning to become certified.
“These components were designed by teachers, for teachers, to identify the essential knowledge and skills required to advance student learning and achievement,” Rubenstein said prior to the Jan. 17 meeting. “This is a serious commitment of time and energy, but teachers who achieve certification describe the process as transformative.”
Polm said National Board Certification is “one of the highest professional distinctions available to teachers,” and he asserted its benefits to students, teachers and school systems by “advancing the quality” of teaching and learning.
“This process of self-reflection is as rigorous as earning a master’s degree,” said Polm, who cited research showing the impact of certification on student learning.
Olsen earned an undergraduate degree from UCLA and a master’s in teaching from City University. This marks her 14th year in the district. She’s active in the community as a spin teacher.
Kasperson lives in Poulsbo and has worked at Port Townsend High School for six years. She teaches Spanish levels 1-4, and her National Board Certification is in world languages. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in teaching, and she has lived and traveled in Mexico.
Gambill has taught for 23 years, the last 17 of which have seen him teach English, history, Spanish and yearbook at Port Townsend High School. He’s also been involved in the PTHS Visit History program. He received National Board Certification in English in 2009.
Shively has taught at Blue Heron Middle School for 15 years, covering language arts, social studies, reading, writing and technology. She currently teaches sixth- and eighth-grade social studies. She received National Board Certification in early adolescent English language arts in 2009. Shively also is the facilitator for the Port Townsend National Board candidates.
Gambill and Shively completed their 10-year certificate renewals last year. Both hold bachelor’s degrees in business administration and master’s degrees in education.
Shively thanked the district for supporting her and the other candidates in obtaining and renewing their certification, in the form of time off and other resources.
“Every few years, I go through another portfolio of feedback from my peers,” Shively said. “But it makes us better teachers.”
Chimacum School District
At the Jan. 23 Chimacum School Board meeting, Superintendent Rick Thompson recognized Gary Coyan, an art and food teacher at the Chimacum Middle and High schools, for earning National Board Certification.
Coyan has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sierra Nevada College, and he was named the Olympic Educational Service District 114 Regional Teacher of the Year.
Coyan uses field trips to organic farms to teach students about corporate ethics and accountability, and his art students leave their marks on the community through his biennial mural project.
Coyan’s foods students maintain a worm composting bin, where the classes’ foods scraps are processed for eventual use in the school garden, while the horticulture class takes the lead on the high school bee apiary that he maintains with the help of the Tri-Area Garden Club and the East Jefferson Beekeepers Association.
Coyan also serves as the work-based learning coordinator, Chimacum Heritage adviser, assistant middle school basketball coach and adviser to several senior projects each year. Two years ago, one of the senior projects he oversaw was successful in establishing Chimacum High School as the first High School Bee Campus USA in the nation.
Coyan mentored Cierra Cabanilla for her senior project, an Advanced Placement Drawing portfolio.
“Gary has helped me become comfortable with myself as an artist,” Cabanilla said. “He has also helped me become comfortable with myself as a person by helping me come out of my shell and talking me through numerous bad days or instances of crisis or problems I couldn’t begin to work out on my own. I speak on behalf of many students when I say that Gary Coyan has been so much more than a teacher to us.”