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Media specialist earns national teaching honor

Florida offers extra pay and time off incentives for teachers attaining the National Board certification.

Published December 5, 2003

When Marilyn Shafer learned last week that she'd attained certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, she was extra pleased.

After two years and two tries for the honor, the Gulf Middle School media specialist became the first librarian in Pasco County to receive the profession's highest commendation.

"It's quite a grueling experience, but it truly does make you reflect on what you do as a teacher," Shafer said Thursday.

Statewide, 1,448 teachers were awarded National Board certification this month, 11 of them in Pasco County. Since the organization was founded in 1987 to raise the national bar for teachers, 4,940 Florida teachers, including 54 from Pasco County, have attained the national credentials.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was created in 1987 to establish a national set of standards for quality teaching.

Widely considered one of the most rigorous training programs for working teachers, National Board certification requires teachers complete a battery of tests, develop a detailed portfolio that includes student work and videos of the teacher at work.

Altogether, the process can take 150 to more than 300 hours to complete.

Other Pasco County teachers to successfully complete the process this year are: Robin Berube of Hudson Middle; Donna Aguis DeStefano of Hudson Elementary; Jan Delate of Chasco Elementary; Tara Evans of Quail Hollow Elementary; Cynthia Smith of Denham Oaks Elementary; Virginia Stannard of Calusa Elementary; Kathryn Zindel of Woodland Elementary; Maureen Gerbin of Schrader Elementary; Michelle Hanson of Hudson Elementary; and Dorothy Taylor of Seven Springs Middle.

Woodland Elementary principal Karen Marler said teachers who seek National Board certification impact not only their students, but also their fellow teachers.

"I think the key is it ignites passion and it improves the culture of the schools," Marler said. "It reminds us that as educators we're also lifelong learners."

Woodland currently has three teachers with the National Board certification and four others who are seeking it.

Florida provides incentives for teachers to obtain the certification, including paying for 90 percent of the $2,300 application fee and providing pay increases for those who successfully complete the program. Additionally, Pasco County teachers who pursue the credentials are allowed three days of professional leave in addition to the six they already have.

- Rebecca Catalanello covers education in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6241. Her e-mail address is

[Last modified December 5, 2003, 01:34:13]

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