BHS vocal teacher gains national certification honor
After months of video taping and writing papers, Baldwin High School's Juli O'Mealey-Hossain received a wonderful Christmas present.
The first-year BHS music teacher received her National Board Certification in teaching shortly before the holiday break in late December.
"It definitely was a nice Christmas present," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "It was nice to know that it's done."
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards provides certification of teachers who meet high and rigorous standards for how and what accomplished teachers should be able to do.
She is now the second nationally certified teacher in the Baldwin School District. Amy Berg, a Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center kindergarten teacher, is the other.
"The district is very proud to have another nationally board certified teacher in this district," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "That's an extremely difficult process to go through and even when you go through the process, it doesn't mean that you get it. For her to get that is a big honor for her and the district. That would of course be our second nationally board certified teacher. That's a pretty good thing for Baldwin schools."
The names of the certified teachers were originally supposed to be released before Thanksgiving, according to O'Mealey-Hossain. Despite the late notification, she had mixed feelings about being chosen.
"It was a little difficult for me because my sister is a French teacher in Oklahoma and she was going through the process at the same time," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "So we were calling each other and counseling each other through this whole thing. She missed it by five points, so on the same day it was hard to be too happy when she missed it by so few points."
Although she was feeling down about her sister, O'Mealey-Hossain was glad to have the process finished.
"I was very relieved not to have to think about doing one of the entries again or taking one of the tests again," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "I was really relieved about that. I was sort of prepared for either way, because it was really difficult. I was really relieved not to have to do it again, but I was really excited."
The process that she went through lasted for months while she taught at Indian Hills Middle School in Shawnee Mission last year. It involved four portfolios, which included a paper and video, and six tests taken on a single day during May.
The portfolios were due in March and each had specific directions. They covered planning a unit over a period of time, showing she knows how to teach musical concepts, knowledge of students of that age and showing she had two-way communication with parents along with being an active member of a learning community.
She videotaped her classes to help show she could do each of these, while writing four lengthy papers.
"Basically, they have a list of standards that the national board deems characteristics of an excellent teacher," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "With those criteria in mind, you have to complete four portfolios. I had to turn in a video, plus a pretty lengthy paper on each. You have to analyze and criticize your own teaching. It was like writing a book almost."
Then in late May, she was required to take six small tests in one day. That was the final piece of the process.
"Over the summer I took six tests in one day," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "They were anything from music history to world music and things like that. They were six little tests."
The work was long and strenuous, but O'Mealey-Hossain had several reasons for wanting the national board certification.
"I already have a Master's Degree and I felt like that was kind of a benchmark that I wanted," she said. "I had heard about it at the music teacher's convention in Kansas a couple years ago. I heard it was a very strenuous, but a worthwhile process of professional development. That's the main reason that I did it and I really felt like that it changed me a lot."
She also said there was a small monetary motive, although she wasn't sure it covered her expenses.
"There is a small incentive," O'Mealey-Hossain said. "The state gives you a bonus of $1,000 for 10 years, which is nice. Then I found out that our district matches that. So, there is a small monetary motivation. I easily spent $1,000 in ink, paper, videotapes and time. It will be nice to pick up that check in a few months and put it toward my student loans. I'll keep it in the education fund."