PE Teacher Ortiz Earns National Board Certification

She’s one of 2 teachers in district with the distinction

Delavan-Darien Physical Education Teacher Sandee Ortiz was one of 126 Wisconsin teachers to have earned national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards this January 2018.

Ortiz is now one of 1,257 Wisconsin teachers who have earned the voluntary, performance-based credential in their careers.

IMAGE: Sandee Ortiz, DDHS Physical Education Teacher

Sandee Ortiz

Nationally, Ortiz is one of 5,470 new National Board Certified Teachers, joining a growing community that’s now more than 118,000 strong across all 50 states.  Each of these accomplished educators earned the profession’s highest mark of achievement through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-review process, demonstrating their proven impact on student learning and achievement.

Research from across the country confirms that students taught by nationally certified teachers gain one to two months of instruction over students taught by those who do not have national certification.

“The process of going through the National Boards was transformative and the best decision I have ever made in my professional career as an educator,” Ortiz said. “It has improved my teaching practices and allowed me to become an advocate in the field of education.”

Ortiz is one of first teachers in the history of the Delavan-Darien School District to earn board certification and is joining Kindergarten Teacher Emily Cherone, who earned her certification in Milwaukee prior to joining the Delavan-Darien School District.

Wisconsin was among seven states nationwide that increased its total National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) by more than 10 percent, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

“WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council) congratulates these outstanding educators who have committed themselves to making sure they are the absolute best they can be,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “WEAC is extremely proud to play a role in helping educators achieve this tremendous honor.”

Currently, only about 2 percent of Wisconsin teachers hold the certification and 3% percent of teachers nationwide.

Ortiz, who is the high school boys and girls tennis coach, became interested in seeking Board certification after working closely with former Delavan-Darien High School Deb Ludlow in securing a federal $1.2 million Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant for the district in 2009.

“I recall Deb Ludlow telling me that this grant was just the start in changing the physical education culture in our district,” said Ortiz, a DDHS teacher since 1998. “That statement from her never left me and I recall hitting a point in my teaching career where I felt I needed to challenge myself to grow professionally as the needs of my students in this district increased.”

Ortiz cited the district’s demographics as a key reason for becoming Board-certified. Delavan-Darien has a high percentage of students from low income families — about 70 percent qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program and more than 100 have been identified as having unstable living arrangements.

“I see our students’ challenges and I can relate to them,” said Ortiz, a first-generation college graduate who herself was homeless when she was a middle and high school student. “I believe I can make an impact and advocate for our students needs and help them understand the benefits of a college education.

“I didn’t allow my circumstances to become excuses and I decided early on that failure was never an option,” she continued. “School and sports were the two things I knew I had any control over and they became an escape from poverty and the challenges I faced at home. Sports taught me how to focus, set goals, push myself both mentally and physically, and helped me develop self confidence. All these experiences allowed me to develop resiliency, and I went on to become the first in my family graduate high school and attend college.

“I want students in this district to know that they are capable of doing great things in life and that each and every one of them has a gift.  Although I have been teaching 20 years, I continue to be a lifelong learner and students need to see this.”

Ortiz dedicated herself to the challenge of becoming a Board-certified teacher. The process took about three years to complete, but already she is seeing the benefits. Her approach to assessing students and the way she differentiates are student-focused on the needs of each and every student.  Completing the National Boards has given her voice and has lead her to more opportunities to be a leader in the PE world. Ortiz has presented at three state conferences already, mentors the district’s elementary PE team & is hosting a PE workshop on January 20th. Additionally, she currently leads the DDHS ACT Prep course for high school students. On a national level she was selected to join 9 other physical education teachers in the country last summer in Chicago to assist in writing the new National Physical Education Standards, an opportunity of a lifetime.

“It was a  journey,” Ortiz said of the certification process. In addition to utilizing WEAC mentorship programs and writing workshops, Ortiz said she was was thankful for the support from Superintendent Dr. Robert Crist, district School/Community Relations Coordinator Mike Heine (for classroom video recording support), Reading Specialist Carole Schroth and former DDHS ESL Teacher Maria Martin for “being in my corner 100% of the time during the process.”

“Lastly, I want to thank the students at DDHS, especially my tennis players,” Ortiz said. “They are the reason I show up every day and they are the reason I want to continue to grow professionally. It’s all about the students!”

Ortiz will be recognized for achieving National Board Certification at a pinning ceremony in Madison at the Concourse Hotel on March 4.

“I want to congratulate Sandee for her fine work and accomplishments, not only for achieving National Board Certification, but also for being a successful and excellent teacher in the classroom,” Superintendent Crist said. “She got into teaching for all the right reasons, has dedicated herself to the cause of helping educate young people, and it shows with how well her students do in the classroom and in life. She is truly an impactful teacher and I am proud of her for achieving this prestigious honor of being a Nationally Board Professional Certified Teacher.”

National Boards in Wisconsin

The state’s Master Educator license is based on National Board Certification. Wisconsin National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) may apply for a 10-year Wisconsin Master Educator license in their certification field, as long as they have completed an approved teacher preparation program in the field. Completion of the National Board Certification process, regardless of achievement, substitutes for the Wisconsin Teacher License Renewal requirements. Educators licensed prior to August 31, 2004 may use their work in the National Board process in lieu of six credits for license renewal.

  • 1,257
  • 311
IMAGE: National Board Certified Graphic

Highlights from this year’s class of new Board-certified teachers

  • Widening reach: There are new NBCTs in 3,727 schools in 1,145 districts across 48 states
  • Growing concentrations in schools, districts, and states:
    • 370 schools have 3 or more new NBCTs
    • 119 districts have 10 or more new NBCTs
    • 15 states have more than 100 new NBCTs, with 5 states having more than 300 new NBCTs
    • Washington, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico and Colorado increased their total NBCTs by more than 10%
  • Increasing diversity and equity: National Board Certification is reaching a broader swath of teachers and students than ever before
    • In Los Angeles, the district with the largest class of new NBCTs with 166; 92 teachers of color achieved National Board Certification
    • More than 20 of the new NBCTs teach in Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) affiliated schools. BIE affiliated schools more than quadrupled the number of NBCTs in their system since 2014 and have hundreds of teachers working toward certification
    • 48% of new NBCTs and also current candidates work in Title 1 schools.