D-B math teacher Fuller becomes nationally certified

Rick Wagner • Feb 8, 2018 at 1:04 PM

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett High School math teacher Theresa Fuller is a National Board Certified Teacher, a designation she found out about in December, but her students know her as someone they can turn to inside and outside the classroom.

Fuller has been in Nashville this week presenting on her Response to Intervention (RTI) program, in algebra I-B, but on the afternoon of Jan. 31, she was teaching algebra in her classroom. 

Four of her students, all sophomores in an afternoon algebra I-B class co-taught by T.J. Ross, say she’s a great teacher who takes the time to help students with math and urges them to seek extra help during Tribe Time, a period in which students eat lunch but also can seek academic help when they need it. Fuller is one of 20 Tennessee educators who are part of a group of 5,470 new National Board Certified Teachers from around the nation.


“She’s a great teacher. She helps us if we have a low grade during Tribe Time,” Michael said.


“She encourages us to come to Tribe Time and get extra help when we need it,” Matthew said. “She tries to get involved with our learning.”


“I get stuck on all kinds of stuff, and she tries to help and help me understand it,” Nick said. “She is really a good teacher. She makes complicated things really easy to understand.”


“She’s a good teacher because she helps people focus more,” Fish said. “She really bugs people to go to Tribe Time so she can work to help us understand.” 


Fuller explained that she worked three years seeking national certification, starting when she was teaching in Arizona. Becoming a certified teacher has four components:

1. Testing in the subject area, in her case math.

2. Demonstrating how she uses differentiated learning, teaching students at different levels and abilities in the same class.

3. Making a 15-minute video, including students and showing how her lessons tie together.

4. Showing how she works with others: parents, fellow D-B teacher and teachers and others outside the Kingsport system to serve her students better and meet student needs.

“It always comes back to how I’m meeting the needs of the student,” Fuller said in an interview. 

"Going through the National Board process makes you continually think and reflect about what you’re teaching, why you’re teaching it, and how you’re going to teach it," Fuller said in a news release. "Your goal in everything you do always comes back to the student and making decisions based on what is best for your students at that time in that place."



Fuller has taught for 14 years, including three in Nevada, seven in Arizona and is in her third at D-B. She started the national certification process while still in Arizona and took three years to complete it. She moved to Northeast Tennessee with her husband, whose job with the U.S. Forest Service fighting wildfires brought him to an Erwin-based firefighting team. 

Because she is not yet tenured, a process that takes five years in Tennessee, her national certification will not result in any additional money, but she said school system officials have told her she should get the certification bonus after she is tenured.

More than 118,000 teachers are nationally certified across 50 states. 

"The process to get your National Board Certificate takes a lot of work and is very rigorous, but it has proven to be the best form of professional development I have ever taken," Fuller said. "With the National Board process, you are continually looking at your teaching, reflecting on it and making the changes right there to benefit your students. This process has changed my teaching from the moment I started going through it, and it continues to change how I teach every day."

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