The cake and balloons were clear indications that the gathering in the conference room at the school District Services Office was not just another meeting. It was a celebration of the seven newest national board certified teachers in Citrus County.
Jean Jaworski, Donnie Brown, Linda Cooper, Steve Crandall, Laura Manos, Sharon Miller and Erica Urban were joined by their families for the reception, which was followed by formal recognition at last week's School Board meeting.
There are now 17 national board certified teachers in Citrus County. In the voluntary program, teachers go through a process that includes producing a portfolio highlighting their work and their students' work, a videotape describing and analyzing lessons and an assessment administered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
"It's very grueling," said Brown, who received her certification as a middle childhood generalist. "The whole goal is to become a better teacher and help others in the learning community."
Brown is a creative literacy teacher for kindergarten through fifth grade at Forest Ridge Elementary School.
The process, she said, "makes you take a hard look at what you're doing and why you're doing it."
During the reception, program specialist for planning and development Linda Ferrara, who is the contact and support person for the teachers undergoing national certification, said, "These seven teachers took on a huge challenge. Through it all they never lost sight of the big picture."
In a subdued moment she thanked Joyce Sablone, whom she referred to as "our guardian angel." Sablone died unexpectedly a year ago after a short illness.
"For those of you who don't know Joyce," she said, "she was a national board certified teacher, and we lost her last March."
The other teachers who recently became national board certified do the following: Jean Jaworski is a Title I reading teacher at Forest Ridge Elementary and an early childhood generalist; Linda Cooper is a Lecanto Primary School kindergarten and first grade teacher, now certified as an early childhood generalist; Steve Crandall is a math teacher at Inverness Middle School who is certified in early adolescence mathematics.
Laura Manos and Sharon Miller both teach a kindergarten/first grade loop at Pleasant Grove Elementary School and are certified early childhood generalists; and Erica Urban, also of Pleasant Grove, is an exceptional student education teacher who became nationally certified as an early childhood through young adulthood exceptional needs specialist.
Along with cake and punch, the teachers received flowers, the opportunity to attend a weeklong Florida Humanities Council conference, a blue Citrus County NBCT T-shirt, a book of encouragement and an NBCT pin.