Manila teachers work toward national board certification

Thursday, October 5, 2006
Tonia Eubanks (right) and Leeann Helms, Manila high school teachers, are working toward National Board Certification. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Town Crier News Staff

Two Manila high school teachers, Tonia Eubanks and Leann Helms, have enrolled and started working toward National Board Certification, a symbol of professional teaching excellence.

National Board Certification recognizes achievement, strengthens and reaffirms teaching strategies, adds credibility to the teaching profession, represents the professions highest standards, and positively impacts student learning. The certification takes 300 to 400 hours to complete in one to three years.

Ms. Eubanks has been in education for 24 years. The 1979 Manila High School graduate earned a bachelor and master's degree in business education from Arkansas State University. She taught business classes at Buffalo Island Central for 11 years and Manila for 13 years.

"Jill Sanders, teacher at BIC, is also in the program," Eubanks said. "Both Jill and Leeann are former students of mine."

Ms. Eubanks is one of 111 candidates chosen to receive state funding for the process.

Ms. Helms teaches social studies at MHS. She is a 1999 graduate of Manila High School and has a BSE in social studies and a masters degree in education from Arkansas State University and Union University. She has taught four years.

Helms applied for and received federal funding to assist her in acquiring National Board Certification.

She plans to earn certification in social studies for students ages 14-18. Eubanks plans to earn national certification in adolescent career and technical education for ages 11-18.

The National Board Certification has been around for over 10 years and Arkansas has established initiatives over the last few years to encourage teachers to pursue the certification. As of the 2005-06 school year, Act 1803 of 2003 provides a bonus of $5,000 for 10 years. A bonus is paid annually to any NBCT in Arkansas who continues to be employed in accordance with legislative provisions governing bonus eligibility. Act 1060 of 2001 as amended by Act 1803 of 2003 authorizes the Department to pay for three days of release time for teachers seeking certification and who have been chosen for the state support program. The state of Arkansas will also award their highest level certificate to national board certified teachers provided certain guidelines are met.

Both Eubanks and Helms agree a support group is important in the process and they plan to work closely together through the process.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards seeks to identify and recognize teachers who effectively enhance student learning and demonstrate the high level of knowledge skills, abilities and commitment reflected in five core propositions -- teachers are committed to students and their learning; teaches know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students; teaches are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning; teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience; teachers are members of learning communities.

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