Sunday, November 17, 2019
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Officials say Ala. TOY unqualified; she resigns

Alabama’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Teacher of the Year is resigning, citing confusion over her certification in the state, reports.

Ann Marie Corgill has been teaching for more than 20 years in Alabama and New York. She holds an Alabama teacher certificate for primary school through third grade as well as National Board Certification to teach children ages 7–12. The national certification is valid until November 2020, according to the National Board Certification directory.

Cherokee Bend Elementary School, part of Mountain Brook (Ala.) City Schools

When she was named Alabama’s Teacher of the Year, she was teaching fourth grade at Cherokee Bend Elementary in Mountain Brook.

She decided to bring her considerable experience to bear on the urban problems of Birmingham City Schools for this school year, so she accepted a second-grade assignment at Oliver Elementary. Acquiring a good teacher was seen as a good move for Birmingham City Schools.

Shortly after the school year began, Ms Corgill was transferred to a fifth-grade assignment at Oliver. The state’s education department notified her that her state teacher certification didn’t include certification to teach fifth grade and her national certification, which would include fifth-grade students in the 7–12 age range, would not suffice under Alabama law.

The situation was complicated by the fact that Birmingham City Schools hadn’t paid her until about two months after she started teaching at Oliver. In her resignation letter, she wrote that she still hadn’t received a satisfactory answer about this missing pay.

So, instead of fighting it, taking tests, paying fees, and all that mess, the 20-year veteran and finalist for National Teacher of the Year simply submitted her resignation.

“After 21 years of teaching in grades 1–6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests, and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning,” she wrote, using a frustrated and exasperated tone.

Before this mess, she expressed high hopes for the new school year, despite the glitches on the path for an experienced teacher with a new and challenging assignment. She was, in fact, looking forward to her new assignment, especially since it came with an opportunity to meet new challenges and new students who would likely, she said in a blog post, throw all her experience and national recognition out the window:

If you are a teacher like me and are beginning a new school year, please remember this … because I certainly forgot and decided to let my “experience” carry me (Big. Huge. Mistake.):

The only thing that matters are the children that sit before you in that new classroom TODAY. They are different and precious and rare and totally unlike last year’s group. And every single one of them deserves our greatest attention, our greatest patience, our greatest love, and our greatest teaching.

No matter what.

(Oliver is a sort of charter school, part of the Woodlawn Innovation Network, introducing problem-based learning in four schools including Oliver. The charter network allows the recruitment of teachers and leaders without traditional teaching certificates.)

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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