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W&M associate professor earns National Board Certification in literacy

A professor at the College of William and Mary’s School of Education recently earned National Board Certification for early and middle childhood literacy education, according to an announcement made Dec. 4.Denise Johnson. Courtesy of O'Neal's Photography.

Denise Johnson, an associate professor who teaches graduate and undergraduate reading-methods courses and children’s literature, was one of nearly 8,500 teachers nationwide who achieved National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards this year. She is the second professor with the College’s School of Education to earn this certification. Professor Margie Mason earned her National Board Certification in mathematics education for children in early adolescence in 2002.

“Sometimes schools of education are criticized as being out of touch with the realities of today’s public schools,” said Virginia McLaughlin, dean of the School of Education. “For William and Mary to have two faculty—one in reading and another in math education—who have achieved National Board Certification defies these unfortunate stereotypes. These faculty members not only know what it takes to be effective teachers, but have what it takes to excel in the profession.”

National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program for K-12 teachers. Certification takes between one and three years, and teachers are assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach and on a portfolio that includes work samples, assignments, videotapes and a classroom teaching analysis. According to the Web site, “all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 700 local school districts recognize National Board Certification as a mark of distinction.”

“National Board Certification is the most prestigious credential a teacher can earn. Like board-certified doctors and accountants, teachers who achieve National Board Certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review,” said National Board for Professional Teaching Standards President and CEO Joseph A. Aguerrebere.

Before starting work at the College’s School of Education seven years ago, Johnson was an elementary school teacher for 10 years. She still holds a valid teaching certificate for Virginia in elementary education with a reading specialist endorsement. As part of her application for National Board Certification, she had to go back into the elementary-school classroom, working with a third-grade class at Stonehouse Elementary School in James City County.

“I loved being in the elementary classroom again,” she said. “I go back all the time and do different things, but to spend that kind of time back in the classroom was a real opportunity for me. I loved the opportunity to really develop a relationship with the kids. That one-on-one relationship with them was very special and I would do it all over again for that experience.”

Johnson, who was awarded the College’s University Professor of Teaching Excellence distinction two years ago, said she hopes her experience in seeking and achieving National Board Certification will in turn help her better prepare students at William and Mary to go through the same process.

“I wanted to know that our program is preparing students to meet these standards,” she said. “I would think our reading master’s program would meet the National Board Certification standards, and so I wanted to immerse myself in achieving and documenting the standards in order to know that our courses prepare students to do this as well.”