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Local teacher becomes nationally certified

By By Suzanne Digmon
After a rigorous seven-month process, Escambia County High School science instructor Pamela Dees has earned her profession's top honor as a National Board Certified teacher.
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Web site, certification is "the most powerful professional development experience of a teacher's career." The process is an extensive series of performance-based assessments that includes teaching portfolios, student work examples, videotapes and thorough analyses of the candidates' classroom teaching and student learning.
Now in her 25th year teaching at ECHS, Dees was encouraged to pursue this certification by Lynn McElhaney, a representative from the State Department who came to help improve SAT scores at the school a couple of years ago. McElhaney had achieved National Board Certification and told Dees about the process.
First Dees had to find the money to pay for the process, which costs $2,300. The state awarded her the necessary funds after she videotaped a class, analyzed it and wrote an essay.
"I did a four-part portfolio and took a six-part test of physics, chemistry, biology and earth and space science. It consisted of an analysis of a videotape of a whole class discussion, an analysis of a videotape showing three stages of a laboratory activity involving scientific inquiry, an analysis of student work collected while teaching a major idea over time, and an analysis of documented accomplishments in working with students' families, as a leader and collaborator at the local, state and/or national level, and as a learner," Dees said.
Perhaps the only nationally certified teacher in Escambia County, she will be recognized Thursday at the school board meeting this week. She will not receive the $5,000 for classroom supplies that is normally awarded because the state has lost so much funding. In February, Dees will receive a certificate from the NBPTS officially stating her accomplishment.