Raise Your Hand program raising local education excellence
MADISON COUNTY – North Alabama is already home to several accomplished school districts, but the Committee of 100, an organization of local business owners and executives striving to improve the area, wants to accomplish even more for the three school districts in Madison County.
The Raise Your Hand Program was the initiative born out of the committee’s non-profit arm, Creative Cities Fund, and works with the Schools Foundation to increase the number of Nationally Board-Certified Teachers (NBCT) in the area by five hundred. A National Board Certification is the highest credential a teacher can earn. The process consists of four major parts and can take from one to three years. The process to certification comes with a cost, as well, that the Schools
Foundation and Creative Cities Fund are helping to mitigate by providing scholarships for five-hundred teachers.
According to Chair of the Creative Cities Fund Kris McBride, “We set out to achieve the highest density of NBCTs in comparable communities in our nation. So, to achieve twenty-seven percent NBCTs in our three systems, we would need to provide scholarships for five hundred certified teachers. The challenge was accepted again, and we have made tremendous gains toward that goal.”
The Committee of 100 hosted a breakfast last Wednesday where speakers shared updates on the progress made by the Raise Your Hand initiative and extrapolated on the benefits of NBCTs to students’ learning.
Since 2020, Raise Your Hand has increased the total number of NBCTs across Huntsville City, Madison City, and Madison County districts from one-hundred fifty-six to two-hundred eighteen with forty-two teachers awaiting awarding of certification and another one-hundred forty-four in the process of certification. Madison City school district has already been overachieving with its nationally ranked high concentration of NBCTs and continues to lead the way in Madison County with the most NBCT candidates pending certification and currently undergoing the certification process of the three area school districts.
“We certainly take it as an honor to have those outstanding certificates presented to our teachers in Madison City Schools,” Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said. “Thank you to all that helped us with this and congratulations.”
Increasing the number of NBCTs in the area will help boost student performance while they are in area schools and help them later down the line in higher education and their future careers, thus equipping the Huntsville-Madison County area with a high-powered future workforce and providing economic benefit to the area. Indeed, statistics show that students taught by NBCTs have one to two-month learning gains over other students, gain an extra grade level of instruction, and have increased income later in life. NBCTs also save the community money on remedial education and add to the economy with a $5,000 yearly additional stipend.
“It is our mission to inspire and engage and empower all students on their way to success and the number way we do that is to give them access to a knowledgeable, energetic, passionate teacher. How do we show that passion? By this wonderful certification,” Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools Dr. Clarence Sutton praised NBCTs for their benefits to Huntsville students.
While National Board Certification is meant to be a rigorous and challenging program, Raise Your Hand is working to making it more accessible by eliminating the financial burden, and keynote speaker at the breakfast, Dr. LaTonya Sibley an NBCT herself and professor at Alabama State University, assured that the program is an entirely doable investment for teachers.
“It seemed so unreachable or untouchable but then, when I found out it was created by teachers and it’s for teachers and its revised consistently by teachers, that made me feel better about the process. So, please know it’s by teachers. It’s for teachers,” Sibley explained.
Together the Committee of 100, its multitude of partnering businesses, and the Madison City, Huntsville City, and Madison County school districts are raising the bar for excellence in North Alabama education with the Raise Your Hand initiative.