You see it often on decorative signs, usually in kitchens: “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”
There’s also a Southern version of the same sentiment that goes “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”
If wives and mamas are the glue that holds the family together, the same sentiment may also be applied to our schools. “Happy teacher, happy school.”
Over the next three years, the Columbus Municipal School District hopes to help 100 of its teachers attain National Board Certification. Presently, only four teachers in the district hold that status.
To achieve that goal, CMSD is using federal COVID-19 funds to pay for the cost of certification, which is often seen as the biggest obstacle teachers face. CMSD is partnering with Mississippi State University’s World Class Teacher program to provide the professional development associated with National Board Certification. So far 27 CMSD teachers have taken advantage of these funds, which cover the $3,000 to $4,000 cost of the training and take 12 to 18 months to complete.
Once certified, teachers received an additional $6,000 annually through funds provided by the Mississippi Legislature.
In a state where teacher pay still lags well behind the regional and national average, that’s a powerful incentive.
Each year, K-12 schools struggle to retain teachers. Some teachers move to areas where the pay is better. Others simply leave the field.
CMSD believes having more nationally-certified teachers will lead to higher retention. In any workplace, high rates of employee turn-over are disruptive. The idea is to hire good employees and keep them.
Covering the cost of a certification that can boost a teacher’s pay by $6,000 is a good investment, one that goes beyond the teacher. CMSD Superintendent Cherie Labat said studies show kindergartners in Mississippi taught by a National Board certified teacher are 31 percent more likely to achieve a proficient score on reading readiness benchmark exams. Third graders are 11 percent more likely to score proficient on the English and Language Arts exam.
The funds for helping teachers earn their certification will be well-spent.
Happy Teachers, Happy Schools.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.