Oconee County School District's First ABCTE-Certified Teacher Making 'Positive Impact' at Alma MaterThis time last year, Blake Hedden was working as an instructional aide in the Oconee County school district. Now, he’s teaching General Science at his old high school, getting rave reviews and inspiring others to pursue a teaching career.
Hedden began pursuing his teaching certification last spring through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) via the Oconee County school district’s new “Grow Our Own” program. Hedden passed ABCTE’s rigorous program—which takes most candidates 8 to 10 months and includes both a subject area exam and a professional teaching knowledge exam—in just four months, becoming Oconee County’s first ABCTE-certified teacher.
“The ABCTE program has afforded Blake an opportunity to enter the teaching profession. Blake worked diligently throughout the certification process and is now making a positive impact as a physical science teacher at Walhalla High School, his alma mater,” said Rob Rhodes, Coordinator of Teacher Quality for the School District of Oconee County.
At Walhalla, Hedden is finding the adjustment to his new career to be a smooth one. “Most first time teachers have to deal with getting used to the area in which they end up finding a job and taking the time to establish themselves in the community,” explains Hedden. “In my case, I was born and raised right here, walked the halls of this school, sat in the very classroom I now teach in, and have the opportunity to work as contemporaries with some of my own teachers.”
Hedden cites ABCTE’s certification program as one of the things that has helped set him up for success in the classroom. “Even though I have some previous experience in the classroom as an instructional aide, during these last few months I have found myself using different strategies to maintain and control the atmosphere in my classes, often times drawing from the theory and instruction from ABCTE,” said Hedden.
The classroom is not the only place Hedden is putting his skills to work, according to Rhodes. “We are very proud of Blake. He was an ideal candidate for our district's new 'Grow Our Own' program and is already assisting other candidates as they navigate this pathway to certification. Blake recently spoke at one of our District School Board meetings, communicating the merits of this program. He discussed how ABCTE afforded him the chance to give back to his students, school and community and realize his dream of becoming a teacher.”
More than anything else, Hedden is in his new job because he seeks to make a positive impact on the lives of students. “I try to make a point every day to go a little further than simply teaching the material of the day,” he explains. “I try to speak positive words into the lives of my students and give out good advice that will most likely serve them better than knowing the definition of an isotope or ion. These are the things I remember from my favorite teachers coming through and my hope is that I will be able to impact my students in the same way.”
The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded via a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. ABCTE is dedicated to recruiting, preparing, certifying and supporting dedicated professionals to improve student achievement through quality teaching. For more information on ABCTE, please visit www.abcte.org or call 877-669-2228.