Somerset High School business education instructor Jen Sutton was notified on Dec. 16 that she has become a National Board Certified Teacher.
The recognition comes after Sutton worked for more than three years in completing the stringent NBCT. Each candidate must complete four components of the process, needing acceptance of their work at each level before advancing to the next step.
Sutton is the only Somerset School District teacher who is currently a National Board Certified Teacher. Former Somerset High School teacher Erin Gehring, who now teaches in Hudson, was also a member of the NBCT Class of 2017.
Sutton received her certification in the area of Career and Technical Education-Early Adolescence through Young Adult-Business, Marketing and Financial Services.
The first component of the process is a test on content knowledge, judging the instructor on integration of general education with career and technical education. The final three components are based upon the teacher's instruction work in the classroom. Sutton said she used pieces from all of her classes for the NBCT certification process. She said she used work from her consumer education course as the main source for her certification work. A part of the certification process required videos of classes in action. So Sutton had cameras filming in the class most days, so the students would be comfortable with the fact they were being filmed. She said she wanted to use the consumer education class as a focal point of her certification work because every SHS student is required to take the class.
Sutton said the rigor of the process caused her to investigate and study every aspect of her instruction style and content.
"Professionally, this is the best thing I've ever done for myself in 14 years of teaching," Sutton said. "This made me a better teacher. I had to intentionally reflect on what I did in the classroom."
Sutton has already completed her master's degree and her administrative degree. She said she is constantly looking for ways to challenge her teaching skills and she viewed this as the next step in her growth as a teacher. Sutton said the National Board Certification practice focuses on teaching growth, through reflecting daily on what is being done in the classroom to make the experience more effective in reaching students.
"I think it's really an enriching process," Sutton said.
Sutton's classroom is a scene of varied furniture from traditional school desks to bean bag chairs. She laughed saying her classes are often "controlled chaos." That chaos is geared to help students learn in the manner they are most comfortable.
"In general, my teaching style rarely requires a lecture," saying students work in groups, work on a number of activities, whatever it takes for students to be engaged in the classroom.
"We're giving kids a say in what they're learning," she said.
She teaches every member of the senior class at SHS. So a great deal of the class involves students applying to colleges, applying for jobs, and doing other things to chart out their futures. She said this is all done in helping the students to make a smoother transition to life after high school.