Crownhill Elementary teacher earns national certification

Jennifer Ledbetter, a fourth-grade teacher at Crownhill Elementary School, expects excellence from herself and inspires others to follow in her footsteps. Ledbetter is Bremerton School District’s first teacher to become nationally board certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Ledbetter’s certification is in middle childhood generalist, which is a teaching method used for children ages 7-12. The certification took two years to complete.

To achieve the distinction, Ledbetter had to take assessment tests in all the subject area she teaches, submit student work samples, take extra classes studying different teaching methods and videotape her classroom. The videotapes were studied by the board and her peers to assess her effectiveness as a teacher and how well she interacted with her students, as well as evaluate her teaching methods and how she can improve.

Along with the videotapes, Ledbetter had to write essays that outlined why she chose to do the assignments on the videotapes and what she and the students learned from them.

In some of the essays, Ledbetter had to admit she learned as much from the assignments as her students. In one such assignment, she asked her students to write an essay on whether they liked or disliked living in Bremerton and outline what made Bremerton unique.

One student wrote that they lived near a cemetery and heard gunshots at night, which did not make him feel safe. In contrast, another student wrote that he lived on the waterfront and there were no other houses around.

“We all learned a lot about the diversity in our community,” Ledbetter said.

Ledbetter also learned about her profession during the certification process — mainly about what it takes to be an effective teacher.

“It doesn’t really work to put a textbook in front of students and say, ‘Here, learn about magnetism,’ ” she said. Instead, children need to be given examples of how to relate what they are learning in the classroom to every day life.

“They need to discover science, they need to learn by doing, not be spoon fed knowledge,” Ledbetter said.

As for being nationally board certified, Ledbetter said she felt “gratification.” For her, it is a sign to her peers that she takes being a teacher seriously and it offers a reassurance from an outside source that she is effective in the classroom.

As a nationally board certified teacher, Ledbetter is entitled to a $3,500 annual compensation from the state. The compensation is contigent upon state funding, however.

For Crownhill Elementary Principal Gail Sackman, Ledbetter’s accomplishment is a source of pride.

“It’s pretty exciting, especially because she was the first teacher in the Bremerton School District to qualify,” Sackman said. “She is one of our many showcase teachers at Crownhill.” Sackman is also proud because Ledbetter has inspired two other teachers at Crownhill to begin the certification process.

“They will start the process this spring and Jennifer will mentor them,” Sackman said.

Sackman also said Ledbetter’s accomplishment was distinctive because Ledbetter herself is a product of the Bremerton schools.

“She’s a Bremerton girl,” Sackman said. “She was born and raised right here in Bremerton.”

Statewide, there are 340 nationally board certified teachers.

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