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Kansas Teachers Achieve Certification

One hundred percent of the educators mentored through a program at Emporia State University in 2015-16 achieved the highest honor of the teaching profession — for a second time.             

The 11 educators were notified recently that the work they had done toward certification had measured up. Nine of the educators work in K-12 education, one works for a university, and one is a school district administrator.

“This process of board certification is similar to how a doctor becomes certified in a special area,” said Alvin Peters, the director of the program that guides teachers through working towards their national board certificates. “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.’”

The process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award. Peters added, “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. 

Emporia State’s Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification maintains a 100 percent renewal rate with candidates achieving recertification on their first attempt. This is the 12th consecutive year the center’s renewal rate has reached 100 percent.

The teachers renewing their certificates this year included:

Auburn-Washburn, USD 437 – Kristine Wanamaker, Pauline South Intermediate School, sixth grade interrelated teacher; certificate area: exceptional needs specialist/early childhood through young adulthood

Blue Valley, USD 229 –

  • Janet Fansher, Overland Trail Elementary School, English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher; certificate area: generalist/early childhood
  • Jennifer Gessley, Overland Trail Elementary School, reading specialist; certificate area: literacy: reading-language arts/early and middle childhood
  • Donna Szymkowski, Harmony Elementary School, Kindergarten teacher; certificate area: generalist/early childhood

Clay Center, USD 379 – Paula Lane, Clay Center High School, English and health teacher; certificate area: English language arts/early adolescence

Jefferson West, USD 340 – Mary Williams, Jefferson West Middle School, English teacher; certificate area: English language arts/early adolescence

Lawrence, USD 497 – Terri Durgan, Quail Run Elementary School, Kindergarten teacher; certificate area: generalist/middle childhood

Manhattan-Ogden, USD 383 – Dr. Deb Nauerth, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, principal; certificate area: generalist/middle childhood

McPherson, USD 418 – Garie Jean Brownrigg, director of early childhood programs; certificate area: generalist/middle childhood

Wichita, USD 259 – Robert Compton, AVID Coordinator at Curtis Middle School; certificate area: English language arts/adolescence and young adulthood

Dr. Heather Caswell, an assistant professor in the school of teaching and learning at Emporia State University, renewed her certificate in literacy: reading-language arts/early and middle childhood

Kansas currently has a total of 408 national board certified teachers. To date, more than 112,000 teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved National Board Certification. Later this month, educators who worked during the 2014-15 school year for their first national board certificate will find out if their work measured up to achieving National Board Certified Teacher status.                                                     

More information about Emporia State’s national board program can be found at

Is your teacher 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 achieve certification on their first try.

NBCTs represent less than one percent of all educators in Kansas. The voluntary process is the equivalent of national board certification for physicians and other health professions.

Some 408 teachers in Kansas are NBCTs, with many teaching in larger school districts.

School District and total number of NBCTs:

  • Blue Valley - 85
  • Olathe - 48
  • Wichita - 40
  • Manhattan-Ogden - 27

To see a list of NBCTs, go to