Two Belen educators become nationally certified teachers

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It ranks among the highest achievements a teacher can get.

Rebecca Lewis: Nationally certified teacher

And two Belen Consolidated Schools teachers have achieved that status.

Rebecca Lewis from Family School and Catherine Romero from Central Elementary School are Nationally Board Certified Teachers through National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The Belen teachers, along with other NBCTs, will be recognized by the New Mexico Legislature for their achievements Friday, Jan. 25, during the 2013 legislative session in Santa Fe.

The two received word in mid-November that they passed the rigorous 10-part accreditation process, which took almost a year to complete.

“I cried when I read it,” said Lewis, who’s been with Belen Schools for 22 years.

Romero, a sixth grade teacher, declined to comment.

The process was a bit overwhelming, especially since teachers were told that a low percentage of test takers achieve this accreditation the first time around, said Lewis, a third and fourth grade teacher.

“I really didn’t think I would pass,” she said. “I was already planning on retaking the exams, because you can bank your scores and redo parts. I was already thinking about what I was going to redo.”

But the biggest challenge for Lewis was starting from scratch on a portion of the process after losing everything in a house fire two months before the deadline.

“I had to start completely over,” she said. “I lost everything.”

Six of the 10 sections in the accreditation process are timed essay exams where teachers have 30 minutes to develop and defend a lesson plan around a specific subject for a certain grade.

Three sections consisted of the teachers analyzing and questioning, in a detailed 10 to 12 page essay and video log, a lesson plan about a specific subject.

Lewis described, for example, what she did in the lesson plan, what her goals were for that lesson, analyzing how effective this was in student learning and how she could change the lesson plan in the future to meet her goals, among other things, she said.

“It really made you dig deep and make sure that what I was doing was valid and important and helping the kids,” she said.

In the final section, Lewis gave examples of how she was working with parents, other teachers in the school and acting as a leader in her community.

Throughout the process, she collaborated with four Belen teachers, who embarked in becoming accredited with her.

“If someone found something new they shared it and we all gave each other ideas,” she said.

This accreditation allows Lewis to be qualified for any teaching position throughout the nation. Plus, it providers her with an annual stipend.

More than anything, these exams aided Lewis in growing as a teacher, along with adding skills to her bag of teaching tricks.

On average, studies reveal that students learn more and do better when taught by a teacher who is nationally board certified, said Michelle Accardi, NBPTS’ director of state policy.

Although Lewis has been a teacher for 29 years, she never gets tired or bored with her job.

“The students have a special place in your heart,” she said.

She learns something new every day and loves the challenge students bring. The trick is finding an aid that will help students exceed in a weak area that leads them to fall in love with that topic.

“I love seeing the kids learn and seeing them excited to do new things,” Lewis said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.