According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, less than three percent of the nation’s 3.7 million elementary and secondary teachers have earned this accreditation.
During the three years it took Lansdowne to earn the certification, she was required to demonstrate evidence of the positive effect she had on student learning in five specific areas determined by the National Board. She had to prove her commitment to her students and their learning of science related materials through performance-based assignments, peer-reviews, and multiple portfolio submissions.
While working toward her certification, Lansdowne had to find balance with her teaching job, personal life and time spent as a student earning two master’s degrees.
“It was a very long process but was definitely worth it,” said Lansdowne. “I learned a lot about myself along the way and was able to discover my weaknesses and strengths as a teacher and as an individual.”
She said her current teaching methods are completely different from those she used before she started her journey toward national certification.
“I now see student assessments in a different way. I am better able to see how they are improving and I’m more interactive with my students,” said Lansdowne.
Grantsville High School Principal Kenna Aagard praised Lansdowne for her “amazing and innovative” teaching abilities.
“She creates an active learning environment in her classroom with hands-on learning activities,” said Aagard. “She also integrates cross-curriculum teaching concepts in her classroom through art, math, and language arts. Students in her class get to participate in various activities such as dissecting sharks, watching plankton races and studying predator and prey relationships.”
Scott Durka, GHS Arts Teacher concurred with Aagard.
“I'm lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside her. She is a great teacher, colleague, and friend. She truly cares about her students and is constantly motivated to bettering herself as an educator. I am so proud of all of her accomplishments,” said Durka.
Lansdowne attributes her success to the support she had from family and colleagues.
“I had a really great support system. I couldn’t have done it without my husband, Phil, and my mom. They were really, really awesome and are incredible human beings.”
Lansdowne specifically lauded the assistance she received from fellow employees TCSD Area Director Dr. Mark Ernst, Tooele Junior High Social Studies Teacher Jason Sarri and GHS Math Teacher Mike Spendlove. They helped with projects and offered encouragement along the way.
“Earning the certification is tons of work and few teachers take the initiative to try for it,” said Ernst. “I think her completing the certification shows that she wants what is best for her students and for herself as an educator. She is meticulous about doing what is right for her and her students and this is another way that she shows that level of care.”
To other educators who would like to earn their National Board Certification, Lansdowne advises them to make sure they have a strong support network and to “go for it.”
“My mother always taught me to take opportunities that come along. Even if it doesn’t work out, you gain experience from it,” said Lansdowne.
Lansdowne currently teaches Earth Science, Wildlife Biology, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, Biology 1010 and a Teaching as a Profession course. She is also an advisor to the Envirothon Club which involves an annual natural resource competition between students across Utah.
She has been a teacher at GHS for five years. Prior to that she taught in Texas and served as a State Park Ranger at Texas’ Lake Tawakoni.