M rs. Leah Leibacher, high school science teacher, and Mrs. Lori Dufrain, Jr./Sr. high school special education teacher, each received an extra special holiday gift this year: recognition as nationally board certified teachers.
The process of obtaining national board certification isn’t easy. There are four portfolio entries that are about 10 pages long with supporting documentation for each; two 15- to 20-minute film clips; and a test that can take up to three hours.
“My husband cooked a lot of dinners,” joked Leibacher.
But the process, while rigorous, has been worth it.
Dufrain explained what she learned from the experience.
“Going through the process, you look at everything you say and do and ask yourself, does this benefit my students? I am more focused than ever on planning activities that will help my students learn and grow today, and long term. Not so much just getting through a week or a unit. I have become more critical of myself and more aware of how I am presenting information.”
The reflective nature of the process has helped both teachers grow professionally. “I’m always thinking about what went well,” Leibacher explained. “This process has helped me focus my teaching to come up with new ways of doing things. It also gave me a chance to talk to other teachers and pick their brains. … It was really good.”
But the biggest benefit of this process has unquestionably been students.
“You are constantly asking yourself, ‘How does this affect student learning?’” noted Dufrain.
“The national board experience helped me think about what to do better,” added Leibacher.
Granville Central School is very fortunate to have three nationally board certified staff members in addition to Leibacher and Dufrain: Mrs. Barbara Byrtus, high school special education teacher; Mrs. Ann O’Brien, English teacher; and Mrs. Jamie Graves, school psychologist. There are more staff members who are in pursuit of the certification.
“This program is voluntary,” adds Leibacher. “A lot of people don’t really know what it’s all about. It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal to keep going—to keep going. And all of the hard work? It’s really for our students and the community.”