Drake earns national board certification

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PE teacher at LCMS is third in district to accomplish that distinction

By Ron Benningfield

For Lisa Drake, LaRue County Middle School physical education teacher, the road to becoming LaRue County School District’s third teacher to gain national board certification was self-enlightening.

“The things they required in order to become certified allowed me to step back from myself and observe how I taught as though I was someone else watching,” said Drake, in her 19th year of teaching. “It gives the teacher a good look at what she’s doing in the classroom and how she can improve.”

Drake started the year-long process in September 2007 after researching what was required. 

“It took me probably a good two weeks to read through the basic guidelines including a required portfolio consisting of four parts, how I must write it, and what questions they wanted answered,” she said. 

The portfolio included how the teacher facilitated student learning, created a productive learning environment, assessed student learning, and documented her accomplishments (Drake wrote about what she was doing outside of the classroom to bring parents and community in both in and outside of the classroom).

She also was required to send in a videotape of her actual classroom instruction that showed her producing an effective learning environment and helping students learn.

“I was fortunate that our school district does so many good things already, such as curriculum alignment and mapping; that made the process easier,” she said. 

With support from students, fellow teachers, her principal and Pam Harlow, a Central Hardin board certified teacher who acted as her mentor, the work came together smoothly, although it required a great amount of time.

“For five months I didn’t see my family a lot,” she said. “I wasn’t a hermit or anything like that, but I had to spend so much time on the portfolio, that once I turned that in in March, I took a couple of weeks off before beginning to study for the exam.”

The timed test was cumulative, covering what she described as everything she had learned as an undergraduate student at Oakland University in Indiana and as a graduate student at Western Kentucky University.

“The questions, content specific, included exercise science, bio-mechanics motor learning safety and fairness, teaching students with disabilities, movement forms, integration of technology, and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching,” she said.

Though she had read several professional journals and books in preparation for the exam, she still was anxious when she arrived in June at a testing center in Louisville.

“My hands were shaking when I started writing,” she said. But, two hours later, she was finished and had only to await her results which would appear on a Web site.

“I checked frequently, but they didn’t tell me an exact date they would post the results,” she said.

After several months of anxious anticipation, she logged onto the site Nov. 21 and read the message congratulating her on being board certified.

“I called my mom and dad, then told Chris" Estes, her colleague who had first informed her of the process. she said. 

Her area of certification in physical education is early adolescent through young adult (middle through high school). The certification puts her among few in Kentucky who have attained it.

“I believe I’m one of only 14 teachers in Kentucky nationally board certified in P.E.,” she said. 

“I’m not big on being recognized, but it is special to me to know my parents are proud of my doing something not a lot of others have done,” the French Lick, Ind. native said.

Financial benefits are good – $2,000 stipend for 10 years, Rank I teaching level and funds to help defray the expenses of the process. But the money is not the main reason she spent all those months working on the certification.

“I want to be the best I can be so that I can better help students in different ways,” she said. “Education is constantly changing and this process gave me the opportunity to look at myself as a teacher, see where I am and how I can improve to enrich my learning as well as that my kids receive.”