Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2007

Starside Elementary reading teacher earns national certification

January 4, 2007

Christi Eaton first fell in love with reading as a child.

"My mom read to me every morning for several hours," she said. "I just developed an internal love of reading. It's such an important skill to have."

Eaton learned earlier this month she had earned a National Board Teaching Certificate, joining the long list of Starside Elementary School reading specialists with accolades.

"It was a great growth process, and it just gave me the opportunity to grow as an educator by reflecting on my teaching," she said.

Eaton and her husband, Ken, live in Shawnee. This is her fifth year of teaching at Starside. She taught in Blue Valley before coming to the De Soto district.

Eaton is originally from Kansas City, Mo., and earned her bachelor's degrees in early childhood education and elementary education from the University of Missouri in Colombia in 1998. She earned her master's in teaching and leadership with a reading specialist certificate from Kansas University in 2002.

She said reading affects all other areas of the students' learning -- including math, science and social studies. Before earning her specialized degree, Eaton was inspired by her students' reading progress.

"It just really motivated me to finish my teaching, just to have an impact on kids in the area of reading," she said. "My passion is really in early literacy."

Under the Title I funding plan, schools like Starside have reading specialists to help all students improve their reading skills. Other reading specialists include Stacey Moore, who also has the National Board Teaching Certificate, and Tana Priddy, who was a semifinalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year.

The National Board Teaching Certificate is valid for 10 years, but doesn't replace the required teaching licensure with the state. Teachers typically have to take classes or some type of professional training to renew their licenses, but Eaton's National Board can be used in place of taking additional courses.

The process for obtaining national licensure requires an in-depth look into the processes of learning. Eaton not only took a computerized test, but also created a 60- to 80-page portfolio and videotaped herself interacting with students.

Eaton had to demonstrate teaching competence in the areas of reading comprehension, writing and integration of speaking and viewing and listening, her contributions to teaching, reading incentive programs and early literacy programs. She also wrote analysis of her videotaped classes.

Eaton said the extensive process of self-analyzing her own teaching abilities was helpful.

"I think it would be a great process for others to go through, just to reflect on teaching."

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