CHARLESTON - Wood County teachers led the state in receiving national certification last year, according to state officials.
Sixty-one West Virginia teachers earned National Board Certification for 2012, the highest credential in the teaching profession.
In 2012, Wood County educators Ernest Wayne Clark, Tracy C. Fauber, Whitny Margaret Gesell, Joanna Theresa Mulligan, Jaime Seltzer and Brenda Lee Twyman earned certification. In Jackson County, Patricia Gayle Anderson and Leslie C. Haynes earned the designation.
Wood County far and away has the most National Board Certified Teachers with 79, according to the West Virginia Department of Education. Cabell County is a distant second with 55.
Judy Johnson, director of curriculum for Wood County Schools, said officials are proud of teachers who go through the intensive process to become certified. She credited the efforts of Frieda Owen for the county's large pool of certified teachers.
Johnson said Owen, a former assistant superintendent, began working with teachers to achieve certification when the program first started in the last 1980s.
Owen, who retired in 2011, continues to work with groups of educators to pursue certification.
Tammy McKnight, a curriculum director for Wood County schools, said Owen has helped publicize the certification and provide support as educators wade through the process.
"She felt it was very important for teachers to go through this in terms of professional development and let everyone know teachers are professionals."
National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize and reward.
National board certified teachers successfully demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices. Certification is achieved through a rigorous, performance-based assessment that typically takes one to three years to complete. As part of the process, teachers build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Additionally, teachers are assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach.
The certification is expensive, costing about $2,000 for materials, Johnson said.
Johnson said the work that goes into achieving certification involves weekends, nights and holidays spent writing.
"It involves an enormous amount of their time," she said.
"It makes you examine what am I doing to make this profession better for me, my students and other teachers." McKnight said.
McKnight acknowledged a lot of teachers do it for the significant pay raise. Board certified teachers receive a $3,500 pay raise from the state and a matching amount from the Wood County Board of Education.
Certified teachers are also in high demand across the country and almost guaranteed a job, Johnson said.
The teachers who achieved certification will be recognized by the Wood County Board of Education at its Jan. 22 meeting.
"The reason we have more (certified teachers) is because of the support group, and having a person such as Owen who has been trained to assist in this process," Johnson said.