Last week, three SAD 6 teachers were recognized at the 10th Annual Celebration of Leadership luncheon at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport for their achievements in the teaching profession.

The event was sponsored by the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education, and was attended by teachers from throughout the state, as well as Maine superintendents and the commissioner of education, Susan Gendron.

Several Maine teachers honored at the luncheon were recognized for passing the teachers’ National Board Certification, which is the highest level of certification possible. Those who are nationally certified can teach anywhere in the United States, and receive additional money on their salaries from both their school districts and the state. Nationally certified teachers are relatively rare, and there are now 119 teaching in the state of Maine.

“National Board Certification is an extremely rigorous application process that only the highest quality teachers can achieve, said Gendron.

Three of these high quality teachers, who work with students in SAD 6 elementary schools, as well as Bonny Eagle Middle and High Schools are as follows:

Irene Marchenay, Bonny Eagle High School

A native of France, Irene Marchenay has taught at Bonny Eagle High School for seven years. She is the head of the languages department, and teaches French to students in grades 9-12.

Marchenay began the all-consuming work of becoming nationally certified in the area of foreign language in 2005. She said the seven exams, two in-class videos, and work within the community required to pass made the process more difficult than her experience in graduate school. Marchenay estimates she spent 350 hours on the certification between 2005 and 2006.

“I thought it would be a way to prove to myself that I knew the methodology to teach my students,” said Marchenay.

“When I finished it, it was great. My husband was very happy, too, because it’s such a long process. It was more challenging than graduate work, because of the intensity of it. And it’s very detailed,” said Marchenay.

Bonnie Esty, SAD 6 elementary schools

Like Marchenay, Bonnie Esty saw becoming a nationally certified teacher as a step to enhance her career. With a masters in literacy, Esty coaches primarily third-grade teachers on how to effectively promote literacy in the classroom.

Previously a classroom teacher for the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district, this is Esty’s second year in the SAD 6 system, and she said she is enjoying her work. Completing the National Board Certification program has enhanced an already fulfilling career.

“It’s just another step toward bettering your practice,” said Esty.

But like Marchenay, Esty said becoming nationally certified in literacy was not easy. One thing she found particularly difficult was videotaping her class in session for the video component of the certification.

“That was hard, getting the students to act naturally when the video tape was on them,” said Marchenay.

Certification took her a little more than a year, but it is something Esty said she would do all over again.

Lucille Bowers, Bonny Eagle Middle School

Although the department of education just announced Lucille Bowers as one of the newest candidates to successfully pass the National Board Certification, she is a year behind Marchenay and Esty, and will attend next year’s luncheon to be honored for the achievement.

But this year, Bowers was a guest on account of her status as a finalist in the 2008 Maine Teacher of the Year Award. Bowers and seven other Maine teachers were nominated by their colleagues for the prestigious award, and made it to the final round. The winner, a teacher from Sanford, was named in September.

Bowers, who is a literacy teacher for grades 6, 7 and 8 at the middle school, said she accepted the nomination on the condition that her colleagues view her as representing a group of teachers dedicated to promoting literacy in the schools.

“Having the nomination and the support from my colleagues was, by far, the best part of the whole thing,” said Bowers.

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