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A Colleague
by Nicole Chiarello

Nicole Chiarello is working toward National Board Certification as an Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Exceptional Needs Specialist.

September 15, 2003

Today, I met with a special education teacher who received her National Board Certification last year. This was very helpful to me for a number of reasons. First, I still had so many questions and she was easily able to answer them. Second, having gone through the process herself, she had some helpful tips for me. Third, she offered to help in any way she could, whether it was to answer a question or read an entry. She definitely recommended being as organized as possible. I told her that I had all my board papers organized into a big three-ring binder with color-coded tabs separating the different entries. She had said that she set hers up in a similar way and chose to work on one entry at a time. Instead of working a little bit on each entry, she found that she worked better when she focused on one entry until it was done, and then started a new one. She recommended getting started on the "documented accomplishments entry," in which we look at the professional development opportunities we've had over the last five years, and show how they impacted student learning. That was good news, because it could be worked on right away, and it was the one we had started working on in our pre-candidate course. She also made me feel better when she said that she thought of the process of board certification as having a part-time job. She set aside a couple of hours a week strictly for her work on the boards. With school starting, I need to become more dedicated to setting aside time to work.

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Meet Nicole Chiarello

Nicole Chiarello received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University at Buffalo, of the State University of New York, in May 1994 and her master's degree in special education, learning and behavior disorders from Buffalo State College in December 1996. For the remainder of the 1996-1997 academic year, Nicole worked as an inclusion teacher at Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School in Sanborn, N.Y. For the past six years, she has taught a district-wide special education program for three-to-five students with emotional and behavioral concerns at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly, Rhode Island. Nicole was named Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year in 2000. She is currently serving on a district team focusing on social, emotional, and behavioral concerns in the classroom.

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