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Howard educator named to national board for teacher certification

Doug Lea credits becoming a National Board Certified Teacher with saving his career as an elementary school band director in Howard County.

Shortly after overcoming a cancer diagnosis, which cost him his vocal chords, Lea wanted to prove to himself that he could still teach music despite not being able to sing.

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In 2007, Lea earned his board certification in early and middle childhood/music — the highest credential an educator can earn.

"I really feel like it saved my career. It made me a better teacher, it's the best thing ever," he said.

Now, nearly eight years after earning his certification, Lea will have the opportunity to help shape the certification program.

Lea was one of seven new members elected in November to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Board of Directors — a nonprofit organization created by the teaching profession to set and maintain standards of accomplished practice.

"Douglas Lea is a leader in the profession with a strong commitment to transforming teaching and learning in our schools," said Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board. "He will be a major asset in our effort to ensure that every student in America has the opportunity to learn from accomplished, Board-certified teachers."

Lea said he is honored by the recognition.

"Apart from actually instructing kids and instructing teachers, which I do, this is maybe the place where I can have the most influence on public education," he said.

Lea, who will serve a three-year term on the 29-member board, added that he will be serving during a "very interesting time" as the board of directors will look at revamping the certification process.

Lea is one of 148 board certified teachers in the Howard County Public School System, according to school system spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove.

There are more than 110,000 board certified teachers across the country.

A Howard County native and Centennial High School graduate, Lea currently serves as the band director at Deep Run and Swansfield elementary schools and has taught in Howard for 27 years.

He currently serves on the board for the Howard County Education Association, Maryland State Education Association and the National Education Association, and chairs the NEA's NBCT Caucus as well as its Professional Standards and Practice Committee.

Lea also works with National University's P20 Leadership Center, which offers candidate support and degree programs related to board certification.

Lea received his undergraduate degree in music education at the University of Michigan and earned a masters degree in counseling and post graduate certificate in school administration from Johns Hopkins University.

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He was nominated for the post by Howard County Education Association President Paul Lemle, who said Lea has been a leader in the association on teaching quality for a long time.

"He's an obvious choice to be on the NBCT board," Lemle said.

Lemle praised Lea's election, adding that on the board he will have the opportunity to make decisions about the most influential set of standards for teacher preparation.

"For Howard and HCEA to have a voice on that board is just awesome and really critical," he said.

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