Her official title is program manager for MSU’s World Class Teaching Program, but Christa King prefers to think of herself as a motivator for the motivators.
Since April, King has been putting her knowledge and passion for education to use every day in recruiting and mentoring teachers seeking National Board for Professional Teaching Certification. She enjoys working alongside WCTP Director Tina Scholtes, a four-time MSU graduate and board certified educator who King considers one of her greatest mentors. Housed in the university’s College of Education, the WCTP was established through legislation in 1996.
“It’s really nice to encourage and help teachers as they set goals and make decisions for their own professional plans,” King said. “It goes back to that Mississippi State family concept—always knowing people are here to support you. People in different positions on campus have helped me, so it’s rewarding to come to work each day and get to be that cheerleader for others.”
King said teachers with at least three years of classroom experience are eligible to begin the national board certification process, which takes one to three years to complete. Along with providing up-to-date information about best teaching practices, King said this professional development opportunity can lead to a $6,000 pay increase over five years. The process is rigorous, she admits, but it’s well worth the work.
“I chose to pursue national board certification after my third year of teaching,” said King, who taught for a total of 11 years in her hometown of Grenada and the Tupelo Public School District. “I stopped my master’s process, became board certified and then finished my master’s program. It was challenging at times, but I could see the benefits in the classroom personally and the impact it was having on the students.”
King, who is pursuing an MSU doctorate in curriculum and instruction, is proud to note that Mississippi currently ranks fourth in the nation for its number of nationally board certified teachers. Research suggests that students whose teachers have earned their national board certification tend to perform better in the classroom, King said.
“I taught on campus for a while and held several different positions, but I always found myself going back to research I knew from the board process,” she said. “It’s really neat that MSU is on board with the World Class Teaching Program and supports this drive that teachers have to become board certified, which can help them better focus on each individual student.”
King said she is grateful to be an employee and student at MSU, where learning and camaraderie are encouraged and celebrated.
“This is a special place with people who genuinely care and are looking out for the best interests of anyone with whom they come in contact,” she said. “I think there’s a need to be encouraged every day, and this is where I’m most comfortable.”