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Eagle County teachers go above and beyond

Nathan Rodriguez
nrodriguez@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyAmy Hastings, speech-language pathologist for Eagle County Schools, earned her Certificate of Clinical Competence through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” Two area teachers were recently recognized for their respective achievements.

Beth Cooney, a fourth-grade and mentor teacher at Edwards Elementary achieved National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, while Amy Hastings, the speech-language pathologist for Eagle County Schools, obtained her Certificate of Clinical Competence through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

“These two individuals have distinguished themselves through these national certification processes and our school district is very fortunate to have them on staff. We’re very proud of their accomplishments,” said Jason Glass, director of human resources for the Eagle County School district.

Heidi Hanssen, principal of Edwards Elementary said she was proud of Cooney and Hastings’ accomplishments.

“To receive these certifications, these teachers not only have to have top-notch instructional skills, but need to be reflective on their own instruction,” she said. “Beth goes above and beyond her job requirements, and it’s wonderful to see this acknowledged nationally. It’s extremely difficult to find speech and language teachers, and to have Amy who is a great teacher and have a Certificate of Clinical Competence is incredible.”

Cooney became just the third teacher in the school district to receive certification, following Traci Wodlinger, the director of professional development for the district, and Erika Donahue, a kindergarten teacher at Edwards Elementary.

“I think what’s so neat about it is that it’s a voluntary assessment, and these teachers want to build on their own professional development. They’re doing it to enhance their own teaching in the classroom,” said Brooke Skjonsby, director of communications for the Eagle County School District. “From a district perspective, we’re very fortunate to have educators go above and beyond to make the education our children receive even better. We’re honored to have teachers like that in the district.”

The certification process may take up to three years to complete, and requires teachers to assemble a portfolio of student assignments, videotapes, and an analysis of their classroom teaching, in addition to being tested on the subjects they teach.

Cooney began the program in September and finished in April, but just received word she had passed last Friday.

“It’s definitely a huge professional accomplishment, so I’m very excited and thankful for all the help I’ve gotten from other teachers and the district,” Cooney said, adding their assistance was key in finishing the required videos. “We shot close to 12 videos before two actually worked. Sometimes the machine wouldn’t work or the tape wasn’t working, so I had lots of support in the school, and have those people to thank.”

In addition to the recognition, Cooney will also receive a pay raise.

“She’ll get $2,500 each year from the district, and on top of that she’ll also get $1,700 from (The Colorado Department of Education),” Skjonsby said. “She certainly didn’t go through the certification process to make more money, but it’s a nice bonus and a recognition of how hard she’s worked.”

Hastings received the professional equivalent of teaching certification by obtaining a Certificate of Clinical Competence.

She completed a nine-month supervised clinical fellowship, with Heather Larsen serving as her mentor, while still working for the district. After filling the remaining requirements, she earned her certificate.

Glass said the district was lucky to have her, especially considering the national shortage of speech-language pathologists.

“There’s just not enough people, and that’s a national problem. Anyone is speech and language pathology can basically pick where they want to work, anywhere in the country,” he said. “Frequently they’ll separate themselves from the school district and go into private practice because they make more money that way. We’re certainly happy to have Amy on staff, and we’ll give her the additional ($2,500) pay and try and retain her for as long as we can.”

In graduate school, Hastings focused her studies and clinical experience on working with patients who had brain injuries or strokes, but after finishing up at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, she realized she was happiest working with kids.

“I realized that while I loved working in a medical setting, I really needed to be with children,” she said. “Working with children is very enlightening ” it is amazing how much you learn from them every single day.”

Staff Writer Nathan Rodriguez can be reached at 970-748-2955 or nrodriguez@vaildaily.com.


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