Hoover City School Board of Education
Hoover City Schools doesn’t just boast of Alabama’s highest percentage of National Board Certified Teachers. It shatters the national average.
About 15 percent of Hoover’s 950 teachers have voluntarily sought national certification, which is administered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. National Board Certification represents the pinnacle of professional development for teachers. Hoover City Schools’ percentage is five-times the national average of 3 percent of teachers who seek National-Board Certification.
To laud this achievement, the Hoover Board of Education recognized Hoover’s 149 National Board-Certified Teachers at its March meeting held at Spain Park High School. The recognition was in conjunction with Alabama’s National Board Certified Teacher Week, held March 9-13.
Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey said Hoover’s high number of nationally certified teachers is a major reason draw for the city in terms of recruiting businesses and residents.
“This just further confirms that we have one of the greatest school systems in the country and adds to the quality of life for our residents to live and raise their families,” Ivey said. “This is one of the many reasons that Hoover was just recognized as one of the top 30 cities in the country to live.”
Getting national certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a rigorous journey. According to Hoover schools spokesman Jason Gaston, it is a months-long, performance-based, peer review process centered on five core propositions:
1) Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
2) Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
3) Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
4) Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
5) Teachers are members of learning communities.
Hoover’s National Board Certified Teachers are at all levels: elementary, intermediate, middle and high school. Trace Crossings Elementary School teacher Mrs. Tami Puchta achieved National Board Certification in 1999.
“It was one of the best things I have ever done in terms of professional development,” Puchta said. “Throughout that process you are answering, ‘What am I teaching? Why am I teaching it?’ and ‘How is this going to benefit student learning?’ It’s just almost impossible to finish that process and not screen everything that you do in that process through those questions.”
Hoover High School English Department Chair Chad Cooley said becoming a nationally board certified teacher can be challenging- and is not something to be taken lightly - but said it adds value to his teaching.
“Once you get about halfway through, you wonder why the heck you did it in the first place,” Cooley said. “But once you finish it, you are very proud and want to tell everybody that you did it and you’re very proud you finished the process.”
Berry Middle School’s Dianna Minor says she encourages colleagues who have not gone through the process to explore the opportunity. Ultimately, she says, students benefit from teachers becoming national board certified.
“I think by becoming a NBCT I learned the power and impact of collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders,” Minor said. “As a NBCT, I learned to become more reflective in my teaching practices. You want to find the best way to implement a lesson and touch all the students in your classroom. So I’m constantly asking myself is this lesson relevant, rigorous, challenging?”
Tammy Dunn, Hoover City Schools' Chief Academic Officer for Mathematics and Science, helped coordinate the district's recognition of National Board Certified Teachers. She said the National Board process requires teachers to dissect their teaching practice, piece by piece: the goals, the assessments, the instructional activities, the re-teaching and enrichment.
“Hoover's NBCTs have persevered through this rigorous process and have laid their practice out to be evaluated by their peers,” Dunn said. “By taking that risk, they are better teachers and our students are the ultimate beneficiaries."
Peggy Brookins serves as Executive Vice President of the National Board, which is based in Arlington, Virginia. During the March board program, she provided a special video message for Hoover’s National Board Certified Teachers, congratulating Hoover City Schools for far surpassing the national average, and mentioned the benefits that national certification brings to the classroom.
“Today we celebrate your achievements as individuals as accomplished teachers whose practice has surpassed the profession’s highest standards,” Brookins said. “Hoover City Schools has historically had a strong candidate support system. You are a model for the nation.”
In a video before they were honored, a national official said Hoover has the highest percentage of certified teachers in Alabama and far exceeds the national average of 3 percent. The Hoover school board also recognized several teachers who have been named nominees for the Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame and honored several teacher of the year candidates.
The Hoover Board of Education website, hoovercityschools.net/, has a listing of all of the certified teachers and nominees as Hoover teacher of year and JSU Teacher Hall of Fame.
For more information on becoming National Board Certified, visit the website for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, nbpts.org.