December 31, 2003 - Press Enterprse: Ethiopia RPCV Ellen Finan earns national certification as teacher

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ethiopia: Peace Corps Ethiopia : The Peace Corps in Ethiopia: December 31, 2003 - Press Enterprse: Ethiopia RPCV Ellen Finan earns national certification as teacher

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Ethiopia RPCV Ellen Finan earns national certification as teacher

Ethiopia RPCV Ellen Finan earns national certification as teacher

Head of the class

Three Rubidoux High School teachers earn national certification

12:34 AM PST on Wednesday, December 31, 2003

By JOHN WELSH / The Press-Enterprise

RUBIDOUX - Ellen Finan raised and twirled her hands as she engaged her 10th-grade world history students.

Behind her, taped to a classroom wall, were 12 paintings in various styles to illustrate three radical schools of painting: Impressionism, Post-Impression and Pre-Raphaelite.

At the same time on a recent Friday morning in two different classrooms, science teacher Jamie Angulo explained mitosis to her biology students and Tom Bystrzycki worked with math equations, showing his pre-calculus students how to work the vertical line test and other problems.
Kurt Miller / The Press-Enterprise
Rubidoux High School science teacher Jaima Angulo, left, math teacher Tom Bystrzycki and social studies teacher Ellen Finan earned awards that go to teachers who demonstrate high levels of knowledge, skills and commitment.

All three teachers discovered earlier this month they successfully completed the necessary work to earn certificates from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Across the Inland Empire, only three other districts had as many certified teachers this year - San Bernardino City, Bear Valley and Ontario-based Chaffey Joint Union High unifieds - but Jurupa Unified School District was the lone Riverside County district boasting three educators from the same school: Rubidoux High.

Each year, the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards awards the certification - considered one of the highest credentials for an educator - to teachers who demonstrate high levels of knowledge, skills and commitment. Teachers apply, submit reports, videotape themselves teaching and also take several tests. Teachers say the certification process is so intense it's compared with getting a doctoral degree.

Angulo, Bystrzycki and Finan said they leaned on each other for support to make sure everyone was making the deadlines to file the necessary paperwork.

Finan worked in Ethiopia as a volunteer in the Peace Corps during the mid-1970s and said she hasn't lost that social service edge. The 25-year Rubidoux High veteran and Moreno Valley resident said she sees teaching as a mission, an opportunity to empower her students and open up their worlds.

"I believe teaching is a political act," she said, laughing, taking a break between classes Friday afternoon. "Working in a school which is in a poor neighborhood, I want the students to realize some of their dreams through education."

Earlier, she tried getting her students to understand those new painting styles that were happening as most of the world was experiencing the Industrial Revolution.

"Yes, you're going to write something next to them so you will need some space," said Finan, lowering her voice for effect and to help ease the students into focusing on their three-minute work-study session. "I see people don't have anything on their paper yet."

A student complained about having trouble seeing the painting reproductions.

"That's why I said get up and move over there," said Finan, in a friendly reminder.

Above her head is a quote from Martin Luther King: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."

When California teachers earned national certification in the past, the state presented them with $10,000 bonuses. That's not the case this time.

Finan said she would have paid bills and Angulo said the money would have been nice - but she would have gone through with the application anyway, despite the fact she's also working on her doctoral degree.

Angulo, a 1991 Ramona High graduate who still lives in Riverside, earned a master's degree in biology from Cal State San Bernardino in 2000.

In a classroom around the corner, Bystrzycki wore bluejeans and a black T-shirt displaying across its front the Maxwell equations, representing concise ways to state the fundamentals of electricity and magnetism. He used various colored markers as he led students step by step through a vertical line test. Behind him were calculus problems, graphs, arrows and lines.

Bystrzycki - whose name is often pronounced "Bye-strick-eee" but would be "Bizz-stritz-KEE" if said in its more traditional, Polish pronunciation - said the certification would allow him to teach in other states easier if he so desired. But the five-year Rubidoux teacher and Palm Springs resident is pretty laid back about the honor.

"I don't go announcing it, but it's a milestone in my career," he said.

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Story Source: Press Enterprse

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ethiopia; Awards



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