Walls of calming blue and shelves bursting with learning activities surrounded instructional specialist Sara Klause as she worked with a student on letters and phonetics Thursday morning at Puente de Hozho Elementary. The two sat together on the floor of Klause’s classroom, linking the letters of the alphabet to their various sounds, a representative animal and hand motion in order to improve the student’s reading skills.
Klause was the only Flagstaff Unified School District teacher to receive National Board Certification in 2018, after 27 years of teaching. She joins seven other FUSD teachers with previous certification.
“Teachers that achieve National Board Certification exemplify the best practices in our field,” said Robert Kelty, principal at Puente de Hozho. “I would highly encourage educators who are completely committed to this craft to consider this journey.”
This certification is a rigorous, voluntary process that has been successfully completed by 122,155 teachers throughout the United States. As of 2018, Arizona is home to more than 1,400 certified teachers; 86 new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) were named in the 2017-18 year and more than 700 teachers are currently pursuing certification in the state.
Though many teachers apply, not all receive certification. Klause said of the 14,000 teachers throughout the nation who submitted their paperwork to the board this year, only 4,000 passed.
She said the process took immense perseverance and practice. For her, this meant dedicating three years to completing the introspective instructional work required of NBCT candidates, by diving deep into educational standards, compiling detailed reports of her teaching methodologies and even reviewing videos of her work with students.
She said the process has made a difference in even the smallest parts of her day because of the time she spent evaluating her actions and proposing better alternatives for the future.
“It helped me to solidify the beliefs that I held about education, but it also helped me to be more confident in my ability to make moment-by-moment decisions,” she said.
Although each candidate’s progress is personal and shared only with a mentor, Klause said she joined a group of other teachers led by Coconino High School’s Angela Buzan, who received her certification in 2013. Although Klause started after the rest of the group, she said it was a valuable source of support.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards awards 25 different certificates, representing a variety of subjects and specialties for PreK-12 teachers, to those who meet the board’s standards for the completion of four training components. The first is a test of content knowledge, while the following three require supplying evidence of National Board Standards in use in the classroom and reflecting on their influence.
Sara Kondratuk, assistant clinical professor at Northern Arizona University, has been an NBCT for eight years. She says these trainings strive to make candidates’ educational practices more intentional.
“Everything has a goal, a reason, a purpose. … It’s not just what you’re teaching, but how [students are] learning,” she said.
Klause said certification is a form of professional development that is an affordable alternative to a supplementary college degree. Additionally, there is funding available through organizations like the Arizona K12 Center, which was created at Northern Arizona University in 1999 to support teachers seeking such development.
The organization has since expanded to provide resources to teachers statewide, but is still involved with NAU, which serves as its fiscal agent and helps provide financial support for certification candidates. The Arizona K12 Center also hosts various professional development events – and even a podcast – to provide teachers with ideas to improve their practice.
Kathleen Wiebke became the first NBCT in Arizona when she received her certification in 1996, and is the current executive director of the Arizona K12 Center. Through various partnerships, like the one at NAU, she hopes for the center to provide support to as many teachers as possible.
“This is something I want every teacher to have access to. It makes for stronger classrooms throughout Arizona,” she said. “Even if you live in some of our most remote parts of Arizona, we can provide candidate support.”
As the center celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer, Wiebke says the goal is to better incorporate teachers’ voices in their own professional development and to use their diverse areas of expertise to improve statewide education.
For teachers like Klause, professional development is about more than a salary increase – it’s about the students and their potential.
“Monetarily, in FUSD, it means I’m going to make an extra $400 a year,” she said. “It’s not huge monetarily, but it is really worth it in the sense of the difference I hope to be able to make with kids.”
Though Klause was the only FUSD teacher to receive certification this year, she said her colleagues are equally dedicated to learning and growing for the benefit of their students.
“They’re people who are marvelous educators who have so much to give to our profession," she said. "My colleagues here are so incredible and they all have amazing things going on in their classroom.”
A large housing development to be built at the intersection of Butler and Sawmill will now come before city council after it received approval from the Planning and Zoning commission Wednesday.
The site, currently home to the Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors facility, is zoned for heavy and light industrial uses, but the developer had asked the commission to rezone the area to highway commercial and high density residential.
“We’ve been extremely excited and worked on this really hard for the past couple of years,” Asset Plus Corporation senior vice president Mark Lindley told the commission. “We’ve been on three or four different parcels of land trying to make something work and found this site.”
Houston-based developer Asset Plus is planning to build two five-story residential buildings that will have a combined 854 bedrooms in 238 apartment units. The two buildings, which will be connected by a pedestrian bridge, will be several hundred feet from Butler.
A “main street” that will separate the two residential buildings will also effectively act as a continuation of Kensington Drive.
To the east of the residential buildings will also be a two-story parking garage with 318 parking spaces to add to the 431 surface spaces also meant to serve residents and visitors.
“We’re working on a concept to get a local artist to do an art mural on the side of the parking garage so as [the main street] terminates, it would terminate into an art feature done by some local artist here,” Lindley said.
They are also installing removable bollards at each end of the main street so that it can be closed off and accommodate community events such as a farmers market or an arts festival, Lindley said.
Neighboring Butler, the site will have two commercial buildings totaling about 22,000 square feet of commercial space. At the moment, this section is still conceptual and will likely be built after the residential buildings are constructed, according to city staff.
Unlike other high occupancy housing developments such as the Hub or Fremont Station, Barrett Kirk, chief investment officer for Asset Plus, said they will not be asking for a conditional use permit to rent by the room. Instead, they will renting by the apartment in a more traditional manor.
Kirk said they hope to attract a variety of residents including young professionals and families and want to open sometime in 2020.
The project has gone through two public meetings and Lindley said they have changed several aspects of the development in response to concerns brought up by members of the public at those meetings.
One of the concerns brought up at the meetings was that of Flagstaff's affordable housing issues and if this development could help address them. Another concern was whether the building really was designed with residents other than students in mind.
The majority of the apartments in the building are designed with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, a setup that appeals to students who may split the cost of rent with roommates.
“We went back after some of the town hall meetings and eliminated as many of the four-bedroom units as we could and incorporated extra ones and twos to try to meet some of the concerns from the city,” Lindley said.
This assertion was questioned by members of the commission, who pointed out the mix of units is still heavily weighted toward four-bedroom units.
Out of the development's 238 units, 190 of them are planned as four-bedroom apartments. There are only 31 apartments that are either three- or two-bedroom, two-bathroom units and 17 that are either one-bedroom, one-bathroom or studio style floor plans.
“I won’t make any claims that we won’t have a lot of students here. With the demand for student housing in this market and the proximity to campus, we're obviously going to have a lot of students here,” Lindley said. “It has to model this way in order to make the development work. I mean it would be really nice if I could come out here and build a building with all one- and two-bedrooms and throw in a few threes, but financially, that model doesn’t work.”
Nonetheless, they have been able designate 10 percent of the units, 24 apartments in all, as affordable housing. These apartments will be designated for those who make up to 80 percent of the area’s median annual income and will not be available to students, Kirk said.
Those who rent the apartments will also pay no more than 33 percent of their annual income to live there.
The development is in an area the regional plan designates as an activity center, a place where high occupancy housing developments are appropriate.
There will be three accesses to the development, one on Butler and two on Sawmill.
The developers are also giving $100,000 to the city for affordable housing projects, $200,000 for traffic solutions in the area and $25,000 to the Flagstaff Police Department.
Police have found there is often a large increase in the volume of calls they receive from a newly opened development.
McALLEN, Texas — Taking the shutdown fight to the Mexican border, President Donald Trump edged closer Thursday to declaring a national emergency in an extraordinary end run around Congress to fund his long-promised border wall. Pressure was mounting to find an escape hatch from the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, cutting scattered services and leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.
Trump, visiting McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande to highlight what he says is a crisis of drugs and crime, said that "if for any reason we don't get this going" — an agreement with House Democrats who have refused to approve the $5.7 billion he demands for the wall — "I will declare a national emergency."
About 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, were to miss their first paycheck today under the stoppage, and Washington was close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in the nation's history. Those markers — along with growing effects to national parks, food inspections and the economy overall — left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with Trump's demands.
Asked about the plight of those going without pay, the president shifted the focus, saying he felt badly "for people that have family members that have been killed" by criminals who came over the border.
Trump was consulting with White House attorneys and allies about using presidential emergency powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He claimed his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny "100 percent."
Such a move to bypass Congress' constitutional control of the nation's purse strings would spark certain legal challenges and bipartisan cries of executive overreach.
A congressional official said the White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to look for billions of dollars earmarked last year for disaster response for Puerto Rico and other areas that could be diverted to a border wall as part of the emergency declaration. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
"We're either going to have a win, make a compromise — because I think a compromise is a win for everybody — or I will declare a national emergency," Trump said before departing the White House for his politically flavored visit to the border. He wore his campaign-slogan "Make America Great Again" cap throughout.
It was not clear what a compromise might entail, and there were no indications that one was in the offing. Trump says he won't reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions.
Vice President Mike Pence shuttled through meetings on Capitol Hill, but there were no signs of any breakthroughs. Pence panned, for now, a last-ditch effort led by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to strike a bipartisan immigration compromise. It would have linked wall funding to deportation protections for some immigrants, including young people here illegally known as Dreamers. But Pence, in a briefing with reporters, said the president prefers to wait for the courts to decide that issue.
Graham sounded deflated after talks among senators essentially collapsed, and said, "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers" to fund wall construction.
Pence said the president has "made no decision" about declaring a national emergency, but added, "The president's going to get this done one way or the other."
Visiting a border patrol station in McAllen, Trump viewed tables piled with weapons and narcotics. Like nearly all drugs trafficked across the border, they were intercepted by agents at official ports of entry, he was told, and not in the remote areas where he wants to extend tall barriers.
Still, he declared: "A wall works. ... Nothing like a wall."
He argued that the U.S. can't solve the problem without a "very substantial barrier" along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.
Sitting among border patrol officers, state and local officials and military representatives, Trump insisted he was "winning" the shutdown fight and criticized Democrats for asserting he was manufacturing a sense of crisis in order to declare an emergency. "What is manufactured is the use of the word 'manufactured,'" Trump said.
As he arrived in Texas, several hundred protesters near the airport in McAllen chanted and waved signs opposing a wall. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: "Build that wall!"
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of engaging in political games to fire up his most loyal supporters, suggesting that a heated meeting Wednesday with legislators at the White House had been "a setup" so that Trump could walk out of it.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell warned on Thursday that an extended partial government shutdown could damage the U.S. economy and starve the central bank of key data it needs to make monetary policy decisions.