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Teacher gets an A on his homework

Hard work results in certification on national basis forNorth Medford's Aleccia

North Medford High School teacher Vincent Aleccia knew that achieving national certification would require an enormous amount of effort, not to mention time.

But the Ashland resident said he was blown away by the size and scope of the rigorous process ' and the rewards that came with its completion.

It's complex, it's comprehensive, it's exhaustive, Aleccia said. I was frustrated, of course; but the process is good. It's the best way to evaluate a teacher.

More than a year after he started the process, Aleccia obtained his certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in November.

Aleccia, who has taught at North since 1991, is the only teacher in Jackson County to achieve the honor this year.

Thirty-eight Oregon teachers earned the title in 2002, bringing the total number of nationally certified teachers in the state to 69.

Of course it's an absolutely wonderful thing. My hat is off to Vince, said NMHS Principal Doug McKenzie. I know this is quite an extensive program and it takes a lot of individual initiative.

National certification is voluntary and open to any educator in the United States.

The process examines a teacher's skills and performance inside the classroom, said Executive Director Vickie Chamberlain of the Teachers and Standards Practices Commission.

It connects teaching to learning, said Chamberlain. In my opinion, it writes a ticket as to the excellence of the teacher to the whole nation.

Teachers are required, on their own time, to build a portfolio illustrating their work through videotapes, samples of student progress and written analyses of strategies and results. Applicants must also pass an eight-hour exam.

Any good teacher is going to have a toolbox of really good tools and techniques, said Aleccia, who leads classes in social studies, journalism and English. I think it has made me a better teacher in several ways.

All told, the process takes between 200 and 300 hours to complete. The application fee is &

36;2,300 and is often funded by teachers unions, school districts or various organizations.

Aleccia said the Oregon Education Association paid for the bulk of his fee.

Although Aleccia was the only teacher in the county this year to earn the certification, he isn't the first.

In 2000, Eagle Point teachers Shirley Blanchard, Lori Evans, Richard Taylor and Carol Schaefer-BeBell were the first in Oregon to achieve their national certification. Those teachers received a &

36;5,000 bonus for their achievements from the Eagle Point School District.

The Medford School District doesn't offer incentives or bonuses for teachers who achieve certification.

We haven't had a large number of people considering (national certification), said Dan Zaklan, district secondary education director. It's something we might discuss later.

Like Medford, Josephine County teachers aren't offered incentives if they achieve certification.

Nevertheless, six teachers surprised school officials by earning their national certification in 2002.

They totally took it upon themselves and did it all, said Jan Sommer, director of special services for the Grants Pass School District. We just have a great group of teachers here.

About the process

National certification ' started in 1986 by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ' is a voluntary process open to educators who have a bachelor's degree and three years of classroom experience.

It is valid for 10 years, after which a teacher must seek renewal.

Applicants are put through a performance-based assessment. They must also document their competency with subject matter and effective teaching strategies.

In 2002, 7,886 teachers were nationally certified in the United States, bringing the total up to 23,930. In Oregon, there are 69 nationally certified teachers.

North Medford High School teacher Vincent Aleccia visits with his honors English students after class recently. Aleccia has earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell