Intentionality, motivation, and purpose are key components in making life’s work meaningful. Misha Freeman, from Avondale Elementary School District, shares what drives her work in education here.
National Board Certified Teacher Misha Freeman has three drivers that intensely fuel her professional fire. The Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University alumna says her “loves” are motherhood, math, and making Board certification manageable for Arizona’s teachers. But deeper than the trifecta is the desire to give each student in the state a world-class education.
According to the new mom, she’s always believed students should have access to an outstanding education, which she says directly correlates with the number of National Board Certified Teachers in the state.
“If we had 34,000 Board-certified teachers in Arizona, then every student would have access to instruction that’s been deemed exceptional by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Now that I have my own child, I believe in it even more,” Freeman admits. “Every child should walk in their classroom and get this sort of expertise no matter what. This means I have to work harder to make sure that we get more NBCTs out there.”
Currently, Freeman is a professional development coordinator in the Avondale Elementary School District. She says she’s been lucky enough to garner support for Board certification through her superintendent, which enables her to move others to catch the National Board fever. In addition to her employment duties, she doubles as the co-president of the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network.
Freeman says she’s been involved in almost every aspect of the National Board process. “I’ve worked with pre-candidates and candidates, both first-time and renewal, which is what got me jonesing about how to connect NBCTs. Once you certify, there’s not a mandated ‘next step,’ but more often than not, teachers do want to keep doing something,” she says.
After achieving certification in 2010, Freeman was hungry for more. She found herself asking the same question over and over: “How can we get all these teachers who are champions at what they do in their classroom and bring them together to be champions for education across the state?”
In 2015, the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network was born.
“The first goal of our network is to help every Board-certified teacher find a place and feel connected to likeminded individuals. Secondly, we want NBCTs to start being a larger voice for education in the state. There are a lot of conversations around what education should be and we should be at the forefront. Wouldn’t it be amazing if newspapers and policymakers came to NBCTs, as experts in the field, when they had questions?” Freeman asks.
What does the network look like in action? Think along the lines of Match.com and eHarmony.
“We’re trying to play matchmaker. We find opportunities for teachers and throw them out there to the network. This year, at our second-annual convening, one of the biggest things that we heard is that we ask Board-certified teachers to be more involved in policy, but they aren’t sure where to start or how to do it. So we’re trying to bring together resources to aid our teacher leaders so they can be the voice. It’s time we learn how policy works in the state of Arizona so we can make a difference,” Freeman urges.
At the end of the day, the education advocate hopes all teachers will become familiar with National Board Certification. Whether it be like her own experience — she attended an after-school meeting about certification by chance — or because teachers have been recruited, Freeman promises to work hard in hope that one day all students in Arizona will have their name called during attendance by a National Board Certified Teacher.