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OUR FINEST TOP TEACHERS WIN NATIONAL HONORS.

Byline: Erik Nelson Staff Writer

WOODLAND HILLS - El Camino Real High School students have long been tops in academics. Now its teachers are among the best, with seven achieving national certification, their profession's highest standard, officials said Tuesday.

The Woodland Hills school has the greatest number of National Board- certified teachers of any campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

And the district accounts for more than half of all such teachers in California.

Teachers who undergo the grueling application process earn a big payoff: a $10,000 bonus from the state and a 15 percent raise from the LAUSD.

``I started to cry; I never thought I had accomplished anything like this before,'' said Jan Nordlinger, a 36-year English teacher at El Camino Real.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certified 245 district teachers this year - or more than half of the 440 teachers certified in California.

In the San Fernando Valley, 89 teachers - 36 percent of those districtwide - earned the distinction, which requires applicants to submit a detailed portfolio of their work and to take a series of timed written exams.

Day Higuchi, president of the teachers union, said he believes the Valley has a great number of certified teachers because veteran teachers are more likely to apply and because they tend to work in schools in more affluent areas.

``Obviously there are tougher working conditions and less resources in the inner cities or less-affluent neighborhoods,'' Higuchi said. ``As a percentage of the faculties, there is a much higher turnover rate at these schools.''

The district estimates that as many as 40 percent of teachers at schools in less-affluent neighborhoods are new teachers with emergency credentials.

``I sort of look at it as having a Nobel laureate,'' said Greg Vallone, principal at Monroe High School in North Hills, where English teachers Elizabeth Winningham and Martin Mullarkey and math teacher Judy Chiasson received national certification this year.

Like other schools serving working-class neighborhoods, Monroe is more crowded than El Camino and operates on a year-round schedule widely recognized as handicapping student achievement.

Noble Avenue School in North Hills is also year-round and one-third of its teachers are not fully credentialed, yet it had its share of laureates.

``I'm very happy. It shows that we have competent teachers,'' Principal William Snow said of his two certificate recipients, third-grade teacher Irene Budworth and preschool teacher Fabilola Johnston.

``There are some teachers who feel that it's a challenge and their skills are needed in the hard-to-staff schools,'' Snow said. ``They want to be where they can be most beneficial.''

Steven Born, who teaches science and physics at San Fernando High, was the only one from his school to be certified.

``I'm extremely proud,'' he said. ``It was tough, mostly because we're on the year-round school calendar and the program is very time-consuming.''

San Fernando High Principal Jose Rodriguez said the $2,000 application fee might have discouraged many teachers at his school from entering the program. He suggested providing more financial aid to applicants and offering more informational seminars.

``I'm confident that if we encouraged more teachers to get through the process, we have a lot more teachers who would achieve certification,'' he said.

While the state offers financial aid to about 200 applicants statewide each year, there were about 500 applicants from the LAUSD alone this year, according to the teachers union.

A complete listing of teachers who earned National Board certification is available on the Web at dailynews.com.

Staff Writer Dominic Berbeo contributed to this story.

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Among seven El Camino Real High teachers recognized with national honors are, from left, math teacher Janette Pacitti and English teachers Marcia Koenig, Karen Jones and Jan Nordlinger.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer

(2) Sharon Markenson

English, El Camino

(3) Jane Esters

Math, El Camino

(4) Jerry Hickman

Math, El Camino
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Dec 6, 2000
Words:646
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