CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City Schools has always made it a priority to attract and cultivate the most qualified educators possible, and now the system is being commended for that effort. Cullman City Schools has been recognized among only four systems in the state of Alabama — and among less than 50 systems nationwide — to have more than 20 percent of its teachers achieve national board certification.
More than 20 percent of the system’s teachers have been certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, with the system named among the National Board Accomplished Districts.
“We are blessed in Cullman City Schools to have such a vast talent of exceptional educators. Our teachers are continual learners and the different paths to their continual learning are through high quality professional development, advanced degrees and/or through the pursuit of their National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification,” said Sharon Windham, curriculum/assessment coordinator for Cullman City Schools. “This continual self-review and growth is what makes the difference for our students. Our students benefit greatly from the professional growth of our National Board-Certified teachers. That is the advantage!”
For teachers, the process of obtaining National Board certification involves a thorough review of their academic content knowledge, as well as their pedagogy, i.e., their method and practice of teaching. In addition, they’re tasked with reflecting on how they positively impact the teaching profession. Through this review and reflection, they identify strengths to sharpen and share, and areas where learning and growth are needed. Once a teacher obtains their National Board Certification, they are required to renew their certification every five years, which creates a continual cycle of growth.
“Our teachers have made this happen! Their desire to grow and improve for their students is the biggest incentive for our teachers. The importance of obtaining National Board certification has been supported for several years by the Cullman City Schools Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education,” Windham said. “Incentives have been in place and have been improved over the years to encourage our teachers to pursue this certification. Once a teacher obtains certification, or renews, they are reimbursed for all of the fees associated with the process. In addition, mentors (some of our own) are provided to support teachers in their candidacy, as well as release time to complete components.”
Teachers who receive their board certification also receive a pay raise incentive through Cullman City Schools as well as a monetary incentive from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) as long as their certification remains valid and recognized by the ALSDE.
“This is a reflection of the professionalism and dedication our teachers have in Cullman City Schools,” Windham said. “In addition, this is a reflection of the Cullman City Schools Board of Education and the unwavering support of this process to provide our teachers with opportunities for continual growth that make a significant impact on the learning of our students. We are very honored to have received this recognition from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.”
Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff added, “We are so proud of the educators here at Cullman City Schools, and this is simply an acknowledgement of all the hard work they put in, every day, to provide the best education possible for our students.”