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14 teachers get national certification

Fourteen Citrus County teachers were recognized last week for joining the 20 county teachers who had already achieved National Board Certified Teacher status.

The 14 were presented to the Citrus County School Board and later enjoyed cake and gifts at a reception in their honor.

Program specialist Mike Ballard said that completing the difficult task, which required over 200 hours of extra effort, were:

Al Balk, Crystal River High School; Lou Anne Crosswhite, Citrus Springs Elementary School; Karen Davis, Citrus High School; Kristen Dickey, Rock Crusher Elementary School; Gina Dolan, Pleasant Grove Elementary School; Stephanie Hans, Rock Crusher Elementary; Sarah Hebert, Citrus Springs Elementary; Marina Koelber, Pleasant Grove Elementary; Terri Mullins, Rock Crusher Elementary; Jane Nelson, Citrus High; Debbie Parker, Lecanto Middle School; Karen Stone, Pleasant Grove Elementary; Janet Tuggle, Forest Ridge Elementary School; and Patricia Valenti-Dvorscak, Homosassa Elementary School.

National Board Certification is the highest level of accomplishment a teacher can achieve, Ballard said. Florida currently has 4,940 such teachers and is second only to North Carolina in numbers in the nation. Besides the 34 actively teaching national board certified teachers in Citrus County, there are 18 continuing candidates and 21 new candidates.

Jane Nelson, a Citrus High history teacher, commented on her journey through the process.

"If I didn't have a very supportive family and principal, I couldn't have done it," she said. "It's a lot of work and a lot of time. This is my 31st year teaching, and I just wanted to do it to show that I could do it. It makes you very aware of what you do. I didn't realize how much was involved in this."

Karen Davis, a math teacher, said, "We get so busy just doing the day-to-day paperwork, teaching and telephone calls, sometimes we lose track of alternative teaching and things we learned in college. It's good to revisit these things and analyze what we do and how we do it to make it better for the kids and for us."

Al Balk teaches world history at Crystal River High School. He said the effort was worth it to him.

"I learned more about myself as a teacher, learned how to better help my students and how to get the material across to them in a more efficient manner," Balk said. "It was a validation that I am doing something right.

"It was difficult, but with the support of my family, colleagues, and school, nothing is impossible. When you have that kind of support, there's little you can't accomplish," he continued. "And the students were excited. They went through the whole thing with me. There were cheers when it was announced."

Citrus' new National Board Certified Teachers are, seated from left, Janet Tuggle, Terri Mullins, Marina Koelber, Stephanie Hans and Gina Dolan. Standing, from left, are Lou Anne Crosswhite, Karen Davis, Jane Nelson, Kristen Dickey, Al Balk, Debbie Parker, Karen Stone and Patricia Valenti-Dvorscak.