Jill Sanders, Buffalo Island Central East elementary teacher, and Tonia Eubanks, Manila High School business teacher, are the first teachers in their districts to earn the status of National Board Teacher Certification (NBTC).
NBTC is a recognition of high quality teaching practice as measured against rigorous standards by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
(Town Crier photos/Revis Blaylock)
The NBPTS assessments consist of two major parts, four portfolio entries and six assessment center exercises.
Sanders and Eubanks received word on Friday, Nov. 20, they had successfully completed all of the work and passed the tests taken in June.
"I felt good after the tests but during the waiting time you start to question yourself and let doubts come in," Eubanks said. "It was a great relief to get the good news."
Sanders received her certification in Social Studies/History Early Adolescents. Eubanks received her certification in Business Technology Early Adolescent through Young Adulthood/Career and Technical Education.
Sanders was surprised on Monday morning at Buffalo Island Central East elementary with an assembly, called by Principal Nicole Stewart.
Attending the assembly were Sanders' husband, Nathan, and son, Jacob, an eighth grader at BIC. Her younger son, Evan, is in the sixth grade.
She was presented with a NBTC pin, sweatshirt and other gifts. Signs and posters throughout the school congratulated her on her accomplishment.
Sanders teaches social studies in the fourth through sixth grades at Buffalo Island Central East Elementary.
"I am a better teacher for coming through the program," Sanders said. "They told us going in to consider it a three year process and it was rigorous."
Sanders also received her Master's Degree in the spring of 2009 from William Wood University. It has been a busy year for her.
Sanders, the daughter of Paul Wildy and Sherry Masner, is a 1988 graduate of Buffalo Island Central High School. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1992.
She has been teaching for 11 years total. She taught four years before taking a seven year break to stay at home with her sons. When her youngest started to kindergarten, she returned to the classroom, also.
"My family was very supportive through the process," Sanders said. "I couldn't have made it without them."
Her goal in going into the program was to become a better teacher.
"I learned a lot through the process," Sanders said. "Individual instruction for each student is important. Through the assessment I learned to go over and beyond what is required as a teacher."
Sanders said she studied everything she could get her hands on. She borrowed books from high school in Advanced Placement in the social studies field.
Sanders is certified to teach social studies but her background study and major was in special education.
The two words Sanders used to describe the feeling she had when she received word she had passed were "happy and relieved."
She said the certification process was tough but as she looks back it was a good process.
"It makes a teacher really take notice of what is working and what is not working, to assess student learning using different types of teaching methods," Eubanks said. "The focus is on the students."
Eubanks said she had a lot of support from her family and her students.
"My students were behind me," she said. "When we were doing the demo lessons they really wanted to do their best for me."
She said packing up all of the work to be sent was even stressful.
"I had about 400 hours of work involved and even it had to be packed by exact instructions," Eubanks said.
Eubanks is a Manila native graduating from Manila High School in 1979. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Arkansas State University in 1982 and her Masters Degree in 1989.
Eubanks had a friend who had gone through the NBTC pilot program.
"There is not many National Board Teacher Certification Teachers in Business Education right now," Eubanks said. "I went through the orientation and planning process but had to postpone starting for a year. It is something you can't just start and stop and I wanted to make sure I was able to complete it once I started it."
Some of the assessment studies in Eubanks' field included integration of academic studies CTE, advances in the fields, exploring careers, high level skills of processes, employability skills, and work sight learning. She had to be able to answer questions form middle school level to high school level. She studied business journals to keep up with the latest and the newest.
"It was a lot of work but it has been worth it," Eubanks said. "A lot of people asked me why I wanted to do this since I am close to retirement. The field I am in is fast changing. Technology changes every six months and teachers have to be willing to change with it. I have learned to look at the overall assessment and utilize different ways to measure students learning abilities. It also fosters team work and work place readiness."
Eubanks is married to Brad Eubanks and they have two children, Scott, an eighth grade student at Manila Middle School, and Michelle Schwartz. Michelle and her husband, Jeff, live in Marion.
Eubanks also serves as FBLA adviser and has been active in state and national FBLA.
"I feel a great sense of accomplishment by going through the NBTC program," Eubanks said.
Manila High School Principal Pam Chipman congratulated Eubanks on a job well done.
Eubanks said teachers who complete the program receive nine hours of graduate credit. They also get a bonus from the state of $5,000 annually up to 10 years.
Both Sanders and Eubanks agree, it was not about the money, it was about becoming better teachers.
They also encourage other teachers to consider becoming National Board Certified.
"It is not unreachable," Eubanks said. "There are benefits in being National Board Certified."
The cost is $2,500. Funding is available through an application process for teachers who meet the requirements.
Both Sanders and Eubanks applied and received full funding from the state for the program.