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There are plenty of reasons individuals choose to pursue National Board Certification. One teacher shares the student-led motivation behind her candidate story. “I’m doing this for the gold balloon,” jokes Alexis LaDuca, a National Board candidate from the Deer Valley Unified School District. “The

Sep 12, 2016

There are plenty of reasons individuals choose to pursue National Board Certification. One teacher shares the student-led motivation behind her candidate story.


“I’m doing this for the gold balloon,” jokes Alexis LaDuca, a National Board candidate from the Deer Valley Unified School District. “The one that the Arizona K12 Center brings you when you’ve achieved National Board Certification.”

The Ohio-born educator isn’t afraid to explain to her students why she’s spent hours analyzing her teaching practice in a variety of ways. Whether it’s planning a lesson, working standards into assignments, reviewing video recordings of her students’ Socratic seminars, or hours spent at Arizona K12 Center events, LaDuca says the National Board Certification journey is one of the best things she’s ever done.

In response to her candid explanation for pursuing distinction, one Mountain Ridge High School student asked, “‘How many balloons do you want me to buy you? We’ll fill the room with them. You don’t have to work this hard!’”

But LaDuca wants to work even harder, each day, to be the best English teacher she can be. In fact, she chose to engage in this method of professional learning, rather than pursuing a doctoral degree, because of an old student.

National Board Certified Teacher Misha Freeman is one of LaDuca’s former senior English students. Worlds collide and the story comes full-circle — the 21-year teaching veteran explains Freeman wrote a letter of recommendation on her behalf, years back, when she was named the 2002 Teacher of the Year for the Deer Valley Unified School District.

“I have my master’s degree, my reading specialist endorsement, and I’ve always continued my education. I’m one of those teachers who says, ‘I have no aspiration outside of my classroom,’” she says. “I wanted to do something to push myself. Misha inspired me to do National Board Certification and it’s been incredible. The role reversal is fun because now I can ask her for help.”

According to LaDuca, who loves to paint and travel in her spare time, the National Board process has been incredibly informative.

“It’s the most engaging and poignant professional development I’ve had in my career. Truly, it’s the one thing that’s caused me to improve upon my teaching every single day. It’s exciting, but it’s exhausting,” she admits.

While the balloon would be a congratulatory token of achievement, LaDuca says the support she’s received from the Arizona K12 Center is unbelievable.

“The great part about the Arizona K12 Center is the support is incredible. I’ve been to many conferences and sat through who-knows-what, but this is really balanced. The challenge to think and reflect is incredible,” she attests.

By December 2017, LaDuca will know whether or not she’s achieved National Board Certification. While the outcome is unpredictable, she’s sure of one thing — “I’m passionate about what I do and I consider myself lucky. I want to stay and work my magic in E-113 for as long as I can.”

Are you interested in pursuing National Board Certification? Learn how the Arizona K12 Center assists National Board candidates, and register for upcoming candidate support events.

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