By John Hernandez
After an abundance of hard work and sacrifice, two Mammoth-San Manuel School District (MSMSD) teachers have been certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. This certification is an advanced teaching credential and is valid nationwide. The two teachers, Manny Chavez and Shawnie Christian, are considered leaders in their field and accomplished educators.
Research has demonstrated that students taught by Board certified teachers accomplish significantly more gains in student achievement than those students taught by non-certified peers. Only three percent of all teachers nationwide are Board certified teachers, with only 957 such teachers in Arizona’s 2,042 public schools.
The Mammoth-San Manuel School District now has three National Board certified teachers. In addition to Christian and Chavez, Mammoth STEM School teacher Yvonne Maestas is certified.
Christian received her certification in early generalist, which are students ages three to eight. She is the Pre-K teacher at First Avenue Elementary and has been teaching for eleven years.
“I am passionate about early childhood education,” she said.
She implemented the education program for three-year-olds, which was the first one in the area. She is now running the three- and four-year-old student programs.
After funding was lost for a teacher, she volunteered to teach both the three and four year old kids and run the programs, which have a total of 67 kids.
“This is something I have always wanted to do” Christian said. “I worked with a teacher that had been Board certified and I could see the difference in teaching skills.”
It took three years of work to get the certification, and she said it is a hard, rigorous program. “It was much harder than pursuing my Masters degree,” she said.
Superintendent John Ryan and the school board were supportive and made sure the two were successful. “I would like to have more teachers in our district get certified,” she added.
Manny Chavez was the 2009 Arizona Teacher of the Year and appeared in Interactive Education magazine in an article about how First Avenue Elementary dramatically improved their reading scores during the 2004-2005 school year.
Chavez also sits on the Board of Directors for the Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization.
He was certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist. This curriculum covers from fourth to seventh grade and ages seven to 12.
To be Board certified, the teacher must know everything about the curriculum for all those grades. “It is unbelievable how much work we had to put into achieving the certification,” Chavez said.
To get certified, there was a lot of studying and writing and Chavez spent three years of traveling to Phoenix on weekends for coaching.
“We had to take six assessments at analyzing student work and had to know the five core propositions of what teachers should know and be able to do in the classroom,” he explained.
The teachers had to take their teaching practices and provide evidence on how it impacted student learning. The final exam was an eight hour long test.
“We can’t thank the Mammoth-San Manuel School District and Board enough for supporting us in this quest” Chavez said. “They picked up everything. Dr. Ricketts and Mary Kyle started the process and Mr. Ryan and Julie Scott stepped in and continued the support.”
Chavez also thanked his colleagues who assisted him whenever he needed help and two students whose work he used to talk about his teaching practices. He also said that Julie Torres from Tucson Unified School District was instrumental in helping them by driving to San Manuel to coach us.
Chavez said his proudest moment was having his wife, son, and mother at the awards ceremony to share it with him.
“They had to put up with a lot at home with me being gone and studying all the time,” Chavez said. “It was tough, it was demanding, but it was an amazing experience.”
National board certifies two MSMSD teachers