MES Principal Jen Robinson presents her plan to help change the teaching culture in Arizona.

By Adam Wolfe 

National Board Certified teachers Jen Robinson, Angela Ebner and Treva Jenkins presented their “World Domination” plan to address issues facing teachers in Arizona to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board during their meeting Wednesday night.

The district has 19 teachers signed up to take a pre-candidacy course to become National Board Certified teachers. The process isn’t easy and takes years to complete. Once a teacher completes it, they can move into leadership roles amongst their peers and be nationally recognized for their teaching prowess.

“Finding your leadership voice is unique to each of us,” Ebner said. “Prior to the National Board process, I would have never taken on leadership roles on my campus. On my journey to become a National Board Certified teacher, I discovered that not only should expert teachers question, investigate and research, but they should expect the same from their peers. This is what I have been doing from the comfort of my own classroom.”

The teaching profession has seen an extreme exodus in the state of Arizona over the last few years. This is largely due to budget cuts, but also because half of all teachers leave the profession by their fifth year. MUSD hopes to curb that trend by getting more teachers involved in National Board programs. These programs help instill confidence and expertise into the workforce, and that can help teachers rely on themselves more than the inconsistent Legislature.

“If we don’t stand up and take back our profession, who will?”Maricopa Elementary School Principal Jen Robinson asked. “We need to have teachers tell our stories. Not politicians. Not legislators. Not Diane Douglas. Not Doug Ducey. My call to action for teachers is to take back our profession. Stand up and share your story.”

Another issue addressed by the Governing Board on Wednesday was the lack of air conditioning on the buses. However, MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut assured the board each bus being used does have air conditioning. There was an incident where a bus broke down and the backup bus did not have air conditioning, but water was provided for each student, and the bus was only used for one day.

The board also acknowledged some of the tragedies happening around the city of Maricopa over the last few weeks. Governing Board president Patti Coutre made it a point to briefly speak her mind on the issue before proceeding into any items on the agenda.

“I thank God every day for the blessings I have received; none more precious to me than my children,” Coutre said. “I have witnessed amazing strength in so many this past week. The compassion that this community has shown to the families and how our community stands together reinforces how much I love living in Maricopa. I pray for peace and healing for all of us as we grieve the terrible losses we have experienced this last week. I encourage all of you to drive safe and buckle up.”

The Governing Board also unanimously passed an updated personnel schedule. The new personnel schedule included the creation of a new position to help tutor and mentor athletes hoping to make it to a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I, II, or III program. The position, currently being filled by Maricopa High School football coach Chris McDonald, will provide guidance to ensure student athletes are meeting the criteria put in place by the NCAA in order to earn an athletic scholarship.

Other items passed by the board included an acceptance of the first reading of an update to the state Legislature regarding the evaluation of professional staff members and student discipline in classrooms. The professional evaluation will determine whether a teacher is an effective educator, and the student discipline clarifies what members of the staff are properly certified to handle student discipline, specifically the “restraint and seclusion” technique.

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