WJHS teachers earn National Board certification

WJHS teachers earn National Board certification

Lipe, Heigle join the ranks of WMSD educators to complete rigorous process

WM School District To hear Ashley Lipe reel off the list of teachers whom she looked up to as a student at West Memphis High School, you'd think she was a youngster opening a fresh pack of baseball cards chocked full of Hall of Famers.

Lipe said she was so enamored by who she considered the best teachers at WMHS from 2004-06 that it made the difference in her decision to become an educator herself.

Furthermore, it was some of those same teachers she admired who encouraged her and colleague Amber Heigle to go for the National Board.

Lipe and Heigle, both teachers at West Junior High, received confirmation of one of the highest honors a classroom teacher can achieve recently and it sent both into delirium.

Lipe and Heigle became the 15th and 16th teachers in the West Memphis School District to achieve the National Board certification.

The West Junior High duo were encouraged to go through the two-year National Board process by their peers in the WMSD.

The reinforcement came in the form of the same teachers Lipe revered when she was a student.

'Being taught at West Junior High and our high school by Frances O'Dea, Becky Sutton, Blaire Burton, Chris Lee, Mimi Mc-Dougle, Joanne Smith, Cherilyn Minnis… those were teachers I didn't want to leave their class,' Lipe said. 'In high school I had the opportunity to work with Joanne at algebra camp and during one of those summers (assistant superintendent Willie) Mr.

Harris was in the cafeteria during the break time. He just looked at me and said, 'You should think about being a teacher.' At that time teaching was not on my mind at all. My junior year of college I started thinking about it, but I didn't want to change my majors. But I knew that Joanne was a non-traditional teacher, so I pursued that.

'Being able to come back to teach in West Memphis and work alongside some of those teachers has been great. They've been mentors and they prepared me for my first years here.'

The veteran Smith, herself a National Board certified teacher, mentoring students and cultivating future teacher prospects are very rewarding for her.

'It is very important to me to mentor new teachers as well as students and be a confidant and listener without being an evaluator,' said Smith. 'We all need to be encouraged and a good mentor can assist new teachers find effective ways to manage the grind of daily struggles and the many challenges we face in teaching every day.'

Lipe is in her eighth year at the school, the last four of which has been as a literacy coach. The 2006

graduate of WMHS received her teaching degree

from the University of Memphis.

'It was stressful,' Lipe said of the National Board process. 'Amber and I entered this process after it had been changed. They didn't even release how we were going to be scored until just before they released the results.'

Heigle, the West Junior High librarian, is in her 12th year in the WMSD.

She spent her first two years as a teacher in her hometown of Osceola.

'Teachers are who I looked up to as well,' Heigle said. 'Teachers are often the role models that little girls have.'

Heigle described the National

Board process as 'tedious.'

'Staying organized, staying ahead of schedule were the toughest parts,' Heigle added. 'It actually changed the way I look at teaching.'

Heigle said she was 'talked into' going to a pre-National-Board process meeting by Lipe.

'I went too, just as a friend, but I knew after the meeting how comprehensive the process was going to be. Still, I wanted to do it,' Heigle stated. 'I don't think, however, I would have gone to the initial meeting if it hadn't been for (Lipe) instigating the process.'

Both teachers anxiously awaited the results, which were posted online late at night.

'The results were supposed to be posted online about midnight,' Heigle commented. 'So I checked my computer around 11:30 p.m. The results were posted, but I couldn't tell if I'd actually made it or not.

But when I realized I'd made it… fireworks.'

Lipe said she started checking for results around 11 p.m.

'The website was shut down, so I knew they were probably uploading the scores,' she said. 'I was constantly refreshing the page, and when I saw I made it I just started screaming.'

Lipe and Heigle had to pass a four-component process. One is an online test and the other three are portfolios, with two of those having video components that show the growth of their students as learners. Their monetary compensation will be $5,000 from the state and $2,000 from the WMSD.

Other WMSD teachers to achieve National Board status include Tamika Burnett, Suzanne Elmore, Carla Ely, Annie Ester, Charles Foster, Shelly Hardin, Kasey Hauswirth, Sara Hays, Norrita Langston, Roxanne Lee, Anne McCreery, Joanne Smith, Tracy Valentine and Christie Wilson.

By Billy Woods