Teachers earning national certification

Deja Lacey

Along with grading Odyssey projects and reading “Romeo and Juliet,” freshman English teacher Holly McEwen has added one more project to her large stack of things to do: earn her National Teacher Certification.  

The National Teacher Certification, or NTC, is a second license for teaching. In order to get a NTC, teachers take a number of tests and videotape the classes that they teach.

“The students just act the same. When I watch the tape I see some of the kids texting or waving at the camera, but I find at least one good part,” McEwen said.

She started her NTC last year and then decided that she was going to finish this year. Along with taking tests and taping the class, there are four portfolios that have to complete.

“I’m kind of that person who always has to be doing something,” she said.

Three teachers at CMR have decided to take the extra step when it comes to teaching. Tom Cubbage, Holly McEwen, and Terri Dahl have all strived to attain the National Teachers Certificate. Dahl successfully earned her certificate in 1997, while Cubbage and McEwen are now finishing the process.

Part of McEwen’s reasoning for starting the NTC was to get feedback on her teaching. Like McEwen, biology teacher Tom Cubbage also wanted to get feedback about how well he teaches his students.

Cubbage applied for his NTC last year, but he missed the cutoff by 12 points. He decided to go for it a second time.

 “There is some type of financial award from the district and the state,” Cubbage said.

Even though there is money involved, Cubbage said he is more focused on making sure that his teaching skills are on point.

“It makes me look at my own teaching and ask myself questions about what I can do better,” he said.

 Cubbage has found that giving his students clay while he gives a lecture or goes over the notes for the day helps them pay attention.

“I’m the type of person who has to be with a pencil and paper, but it helps them to have something in their hands,” Cubbage said.

Austin Pond, a sophomore in Cubbage’s biology class, also finds that it makes the class better when students get to do “hands-on stuff.”

Pond said that Cubbage’s class is “very supportive” when it comes to the video section of the NTC.  During the taping, Pond said that students act maturely.

One of the only things that Pond thinks should change is the long lectures that Cubbage gives. Regardless, Pond finds the class “inspirational.”

Even though the NTC has taught Cubbage about himself, he admits that “I’m kind of ready to be done.”

The one teacher who has earned the certificate is Terri Dahl, the math department leader.

Dahl was one of the first teachers in Great Falls to earn her NTC, and she renews her certificate every three years.

“I was so happy when I had finished,” Dahl said. “It’s a great feeling to have one.”