Joyce Place-Kranefuss logged on to her computer with the impatience and excitement of a high-school senior awaiting a college acceptance letter.
Place-Kranefuss should have been long past those kinds of anxieties. The chair of the math department at Cherokee Trail High School, Place-Kranefuss is an accomplished and admired teacher at the school with plenty of years of experience. But in November, Place-Kranefuss was waiting for news of an important professional milestone, and it brought back all of the memories of a stressful college application process. Place-Kranefuss had completed the rigorous and demanding work behind earning the National Board Certification, and she was waiting for word that it had all paid off.
"Submitting all of the work was a relief, but logging on to the computer and getting word I'd been certified was a the real relief," she said. "I got up at 6:30 a.m. that morning. No one else in the house was awake. I was so excited."
Place-Kranefuss was one of nine teachers in the Cherry Creek School District to earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 2014. The organization sets the standards for teaching excellence and administers the rigorous National Board Certification program. The Cherry Creek School District boasts more than 100 National Board certified teachers, the third-highest number in the state of Colorado.
The latest crop of nine certified teachers received formal recognition for their achievements during a historic ceremony held at the Educational Services Center on March 26. It was the first formal reception for the newly honored instructors, even though Cherry Creek has boasted National Board certified teachers for more than 15 years.
"We need to celebrate things that are important," Cherry Creek Superintendent Dr. Harry Bull said during the ceremony. "There's a group of more than 100 National Board certified teachers in Cherry Creek. That's pretty darn special. This is a lot of work. It's something that distinguishes you not only in the state of Colorado, but in the nation.
"Thank you," he added.
The recognition meant a lot for teachers like Plane-Kranefuss, who spent hundreds of hours preparing their submissions for the National Board. For these committed teachers, all of the in-depth and demanding research that comes with the certification has a direct impact in the classroom.
"It's wonderful to be honored for doing what I want to do to become a better teacher," she said. "I'll bring a more reflective quality regarding what works and what doesn't work. My teaching can always be better."
The Cherry Creek Schools teachers who achieved National Board Certification in 2014 are:
- Michael Donhowe, math teacher at West Middle School
- Jonathan Fine, English teacher at Eaglecrest High School
- Julie Schmidt, AVID teacher at Eaglecrest High School
- Brian Kurz, English teacher at Grandview High School
- Jennifer Lemoine, Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School teacher
- Dorothea Madry, ILC teacher at Liberty Middle School
- Ben Naccarato, ELA/ESL teacher at Red Hawk Elementary School
- Joyce Place-Kranefuss, math teacher and department chair at Cherokee Trail High School
- Jeffrey Ryan, Social Studies teacher at Grandview High School