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Distinguished teachers leading S.F. schools

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We know our teachers work hard every day, but did you know that each year dozens of teachers with the San Francisco Unified School District voluntarily put themselves through one of the most rigorous programs in the country — on top of teaching every day — to become even better at their craft?

Tonight, the Board of Education and I will celebrate our 17 newly certified (and 12 renewed) teachers who have earned the distinction of National Board Certification. And with 254 National Board Certified teachers now working in the SFUSD, we have double the number of certified teachers than the national average.

Achieving distinction

Like board-certified doctors and accountants, teachers who achieve this certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review. They build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videos of their teaching and a thorough analysis of their work.

Most importantly, teachers must demonstrate an ability to meet diverse student needs and show they collaborate outside of their classroom. These teachers have to prove that they recognize students as individuals and adjust their teaching methods accordingly.

Worth the effort

Here’s what National Board Certified teacher Crystal Carrillo has to say about why the certification is so special and what she learned in the process: “It really makes you reflect deeply on what you are doing in the classroom,” Carrillo said. “I’ve become less bogged down by trying to complete a lesson on time and pay much more attention to what each student needs to get it, before we move on to the next lesson.”

Carrillo is one of many teachers who are mentoring others in the midst of their own certification process. “We don’t tell them what to do,” she said. “Rather, we get them to think deeper about why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Support system

I don’t really have to tell you that teaching in the 21st century is as demanding as ever. Ours is a complicated and fast-moving world. What our students need to be ready to do upon graduation is very different than even a few short years ago.

The very fact that so many of our teachers are willing to go the extra mile to become better at their jobs is just one more reason so many of our students are thriving.

Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.