Fremont High School math teacher Jessica Uy is now among the elite few teachers to achieve certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Uy is one of just six recent alumni of the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation's fellowship to earn the elite certification. The five other early career educators teach science and math in high schools in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.
The certification is regarded as a high-status benchmark for teaching knowledge, skills and practices, earned through a series of complex, rigorous assessments and testing. The voluntary program can take the better part of a school year and involve hundreds of hours of work beyond the regular demands of teaching, according to board certification officials.
"In a lot of ways, it was on par with the work it takes to get a master's degree," Uy said. "It was definitely a challenge. Teachers like to push themselves and see what they are capable of."
Teachers complete a comprehensive portfolio with written and video entries on classroom practice and discourse, instruction and content knowledge, as well as work with parents and the wider community. More than 97,000 teachers were nationally board certified as of 2011, representing approximately 2.7 percent of the 3.7 million American teachers, according to board officials.
Uy is in her sixth year teaching mathematics at Fremont High. "I love teaching at Fremont," she said. "The administration is very supportive, and everyone is focused on the kids and what they are learning."
Uy grew up in Southern California and attended a number of gifted, talented and academically accelerated programs throughout elementary and middle school. She attended UC-Davis, where she saw a stark contrast between her own and her peers' schooling experiences, she said. The gap in public school experience inspired her to teach. "There are many opportunities to promote equity for all students because of the work of the teachers, administration, other staff and student body, and it's exciting to be part of that work," she said in a press statement.
Uy graduated from UC-Davis with a double major in American studies and math and earned a master's degree in education from Stanford University. She chose to teach at Fremont High School because she felt students there needed a shot at an equitable education. Uy believes she is the only teacher at the school with the certification.
"The National Board Certification is a tremendous achievement akin to the medical or legal board," Dina Portnoy, director of the KSTF alumni program, said in a press statement. "Earning this advanced teaching credential validates the standard
to which these highly accomplished teachers hold themselves and their teaching practice. This success is an indication of what happens when teachers are empowered as leaders and supported by a strong network of like-minded colleagues."
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation was established by Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles in 1999 to increase the number of quality high school science and mathematics teachers, and to improve math and science education in the United States. To date, there are 202 teaching fellows and alumni across 38 states.
For more information about the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, visit kstf.org