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November 9, 2011

Geary County Teachers Measures Up – Again

picture - Linda BongersLast year, four teachers in Geary County USD 475 were among Kansas educators deciding if they wanted to go through a rigorous journey – again.

Within the last ten years, Linda Bongers, Anneliece Kowalik, Michelle McDaniel, and  Mary Jane Witt went through the challenging year-long process of becoming National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). A year ago, they decided to renew their certificates as the life of their original 10-year certificates was soon to expire.

In late October all of these Geary County teachers found their work had measured up when they received notice their national board certifications were renewed.

photo not availableThe teachers work in the following schools and renewed certification in the following area:

•    Linda Bongers, Coordinator of Library Media Services – Library Media / Early Childhood through Young Adulthood
•    Anneliece Kowalik, Junction City Middle School – Social Studies-History / Early Adolescence
•    Michelle McDaniel, Junction City Middle School – Career & Technical Education / Early Adolescence through Young Adult
•    Mary Jane Witt, Lincoln Elementary – Library Media / Early Childhood through Young Adulthood

picture - Mary Jane WittThese four are among the 16 NBCTs working in USD 475.

 “This process of board certification is very much like how a doctor becomes certified in a special area,” said Dr. Roger Caswell, director of ESU’s program which assists teachers working toward national certification. “This is voluntary – no state, school district, or program is demanding them to go through this process. That’s why – a decade after earning their certification the first time – it’s a huge commitment to say, ‘Yes, I want to do it again.’”

While the process is often misunderstood to mean that a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award, Caswell explained National Board certification is a different kind of honor. Teachers must submit extensive documentation of their instruction, including videos of their students at work in the classroom.

The accomplishment of national board certification benefits the teachers, the schools they work in, and studies have shown NBCTs improve student learning. And the program hosted at ESU, Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification, benefits as it maintains a 100% renewal rate with candidates achieving recertification on their first attempt. More information about ESU’s program can be found at www.emporia.edu/jones/nbpts/.

Kansas currently has a total of 318 national board certified teachers. Nationwide, the total number of national board certified teachers is more than 91,000.


National Board Certification is the highest credential in the teaching profession. A voluntary process established by NBPTS, certification is achieved through a rigorous performance-based assessment that takes between one and three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers and school counselors should know and be able to do. The program for providing professional support for the certification has been available at ESU since 1993.

Is your teacher national board certified?

They are among the best teachers in the profession, undergoing a rigorous process taking at least one year.

They are told to expect a 400-hour time commitment, and less than half will pass on their first try.

National Board Certified Teachers represent less than one percent of all educators in Kansas, reflecting the dedication and skill required to earn the elite certification. The voluntary process is the equivalent of national board certification for physicians and other health professions.

Some 318 teachers in Kansas are national board-certified, with many teaching in larger school districts.

School District        

Total # Certified

Blue Valley








Geary County


To see a list of National Board Certified Teachers in Kansas, go to www.nbpts.org/resources/nbct_directory/.

Kansas is 35th in the nation in total number of NBCTs.

By late November teachers who worked toward initial certification during the 2010-11 school year will find out if they achieved National Board Certification.