Discovering Montana

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For Immediate Release - September 17, 1999
Erik Burke, Education Policy Advisor
MJ Fox, Communications Director, (406)444-3111

Governor To Honor Seven Montana Teachers

Helena, MT--Governor Marc Racicot will recognize seven Montana educators who have recently completed a series of rigorous performance assessments to become National Board Certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. A reception is scheduled for September 20, 1999 at 4:00 pm in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education Board Room (2500 E. Broadway in Helena).

The following teachers will be honored: Margaret Bowles, an elementary teacher from Townsend; Margaret Lekse, a high school teacher from Roundup; Wade Nelson, a high school teacher from Thompson Falls; Jennifer Royall, a middle school teacher from Bozeman; Dick Seitz, a high school teacher from Helena; Carol Wadman, an elementary teacher from Roundup; and Bruce Whearty, a middle school teacher also from Roundup.

In addition to the Governor's presentations to the seven candidates, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Nancy Keenan, will present $2000 salary stipends to Montana's three National Board Certified teachers who currently teach in Montana. The stipends were approved by the 1999 Legislature. National Board Certified teachers who will receive the stipends are: Terri Dahl, a high school teacher in Great Falls; Kathy Nelson, an elementary teacher from Great Falls; and BJ Streeby, a middle school teacher also from Great Falls.

National Board Certification is granted to teachers who successfully complete a series of portfolio and assessment excercises over a six to nine month period. Simply completing the certification process requires teachers to demonstrate a high level of expertise through written and video evidence, and successfully becoming National Board certified represents the highest achievement an American teacher can earn.

"Montana's seven candidates for National Board Certification, as well as the three National Board Certified Teachers who are receiving stipends, are true professionals who are concerned about the quality of their daily efforts," Governor Racicot said. "Such leadership and dedication is the key to providing all Montana children with an unparalleled system of education."

Only 40 percent of National Board Certification candidates actually achieve the certification status, indicative of the difficulty of the assessments. Candidates who do not become certified can resubmit portions of the assessments to eventually gain certification. Over 6000 teachers nationwide completed the assessments during the 1998-1999 school year.

According to NBCT candidate Wade Nelson, "If I don't become certified, I've already learned more about myself and the standards of excellence than I ever would have, and in that regard, I've already succeeded."

During the 1999 Legislative Session, Governor Racicot proposed state budget legislation which provided the professional salary incentives of $2,000 per year to Montana teachers who are National Board Certified.

"These funds are a small price to pay for the many benefits that Montanans gain from teachers who have demonstrated that they are truly accomplished and effective practitioners of their profession," said Gov. Racicot.

Twenty-three other states have passed similar legislation, some of which have provided National Board Certified teachers with salary enhancements of over $10,000 per year.

Joining Governor Racicot and Superintendent Keenan in honoring the teachers will be school administrators, school board members, and representatives from several statewide education organizations. The seven candidates are expected to receive their scores in early November.


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