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Teacher Earns National Boards

Broad Run physics teacher awaits doctorate next.

Larissa Lemp is a highly organized person.

The Broad Run physics teacher has just earned National Board Certification for teaching — an intense process that she started while finishing her masters of education at George Mason University two years ago. And last year, Lemp started working on her doctorate, also at George Mason, at the same time as she finished her application for certification.

So how did she do it?

"I created a routine for myself," Lemp said. "I decided that when I was at school, I do school things. When I'm at home, I work on the doctorate. You just have to pace yourself and be flexible."

Learning how to learn is something that Lemp has tried to pass along to her students, in addition to the basics of physics. She always gives a justification for the "why" of a problem rather than just the "how."

Lemp already has a plan for after she earns her doctorate, although it's still a little fuzzy. She'd like to earn a second master's degree in physics, but admits, "I'd probably like to be a mom first."

NATIONAL BOARD Certification is a complex process that takes between one and three years to complete. Lemp finished in two. Applicants must send in a multitude of papers from letters of recommendation, essays on teaching and examples of student work in addition to videos of themselves teaching.

Not only that, applicants also take a three-hour exam where they are given six prompts, which they use to design lesson plans on the spot. Successful candidates will identify misconceptions as well as solving the problem themselves.

The point is to prove that someone is a "master teacher," Lemp said.

While garnering certification is a serious professional accolade — Lemp can now add N.B.C.T. after her last name if she wishes — and results in $8,500 in prizes as well, for Lemp, it was a personal challenge.

"The minute I heard about it, I had to do it," she said.

— Suzannah Evans