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Keystone Oaks teacher achieves National Board Certification

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:27 p.m.
Keystone Oaks students, from left, Trishna Acharya, Nikole Medved, Dylan Opferman and Michael Deer flank popular math teacher Kevin Gallagher. Submitted
Math teacher Kevin Gallagher being the first Keystone Oaks teacher in the school's 45-year history to earn national certification did not go unnoticed by his students. Submitted

It's not very often that a high school teacher receives a standing ovation from his students.

It happened last week at Keystone Oaks High School.

Principal Scott Hagy announced prior to school last Wednesday that math teacher Kevin Gallagher had become the district's first teacher in Keystone Oaks' 45-year history to meet the standard to attain a National Board Certification.

When Gallagher walked into his homeroom class full of students, they erupted into cheers and gave stood in applause. Gallagher was taken aback. He got the same reception from his students at his first-period class.

Gallagher was excited about the accomplishment, which took two years to achieve, but also said he looks forward to using it to improve the students he teaches on a daily basis.

“This was truly an all-encompassing experience and the only word I can think of to describe it is grueling. However, it was also the most satisfying professional development experience I have ever had,” said Gallagher, a Castle Shannon native.

National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that is valid for 10 years and is available nationwide to teachers at all levels. The certification is achieved upon successful completion of a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do.

Fewer than 100,000 teachers nationwide have earned the distinction.

“I'm obviously very proud of the achievement and I will enjoy it for a while, but the most important thing is to take all that you have learned throughout the process and use it to improve what happens on a daily basis in my classroom,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher's certification is called “Mathematics/Adolescence and Young Adulthood.” It is designed for teachers who teach students ages 14 and older who know the full range of the school mathematics curriculum including geometry, calculus, and discrete math.

Gallagher estimates he spent between 200-300 hours outside the classroom preparing the portfolio. The hardest part, he said, was waiting to hear the results.

“I tried to put it out of my mind but I knew that I would find out the results in mid-November,” he said.

Now that he and everyone else knows, the excitement is growing about Gallagher's achievement, Hagy said.

“It is an exciting thing. The kids here really gave him a big pat on the back. You have to like that.”

Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or jwidmer@tribweb.com.

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