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‘I’m a student at heart’

Longtime West Hempstead teacher earns national certification

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A teacher at Cornwell Avenue Elementary School in West Hempstead for 33 years, Desiree Karroll still hungers for knowledge. Karroll recently became one of 97 teachers in the state to earn national certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards through New York State United Teachers.

“I’m a student at heart,” said Karroll, who teaches third grade. “I still love teaching, so whatever I can do to help my students impact their learning made this worthwhile. It’s probably the best professional development that I’ve ever done in my life, due to the fact that it was something that I loved doing.”

Karroll, of Glen Head, is one of more than 2,000 teachers in the state who have earned the ‘gold standard’. To qualify, teachers must complete a rigorous performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment process that includes a review of teaching portfolios, student work samples, videos and analysis of a candidate’s teaching and student learning.

The process started in 2015, Karroll said, when she attended a conference in Albany on new-generation learning standards. The experience inspired her to improve her skills. “I definitely learned that you need to get to know all of your students very, very well,” she said. “I found that when you home in on their interests, you can direct them to literatures that would entice them and motivate them more to read. They’re happy to know that their teacher is interested in what they like.”

Karroll earned four college degrees: one in elementary education at C.W. Post in 1986, another in early childhood education from Queens College in 2001, her third in student development administration from Dowling College 2011 and a fourth in literacy from Touro College in 2015. She said that while teaching methods have changed with technology, she strives to remain up-to-date, which requires patience and extra planning.

“I’m a little old school,” she said, “because I still like to have my students read out of regular books, but I always wanted to stay current and updated on the best practices.”

Cornwell Avenue School Principal Deanna Sinito said that Karroll not only continues to seek knowledge, but also  looks to share what she has learned with her colleagues. “Becoming a ‘gold standard’ National Certified Teacher is further proof — as the process is quite rigorous — that she is committed to the education and achievements of the students of West Hempstead and beyond,” Sinito said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have her with us for length and breadth of her career, and we look forward to what you will continue to accomplish.”

“New York’s National Board Certified Teachers are shining examples of the outstanding educators across the state who work so hard to help their students achieve their full potential,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said in a news release. “With inequality in education among the most pressing issues of our time, this diverse group is proof that every corner of the state has dedicated teachers who believe in education and, most importantly, in their students.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said that each honoree has the special ability to provide transformative education for their students. “To become certified, these teachers have demonstrated not just that they know their subject areas,” DiBrango said, “but that they know their students, the challenges they face and how to help them grow. These educators are proof that teaching makes a difference.”

Karroll, who is married but does not have children, said, “Once a child becomes a student of mine, they become a part of my family. They all hold a special place in my heart.”