Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Washington Professional Educator Standards Board
July 11, 2000

Welcome, and thank you all for coming. When I used to spend more time here, the desks and chairs -- everything here -- seemed so much bigger.

Today is a proud day for me. And a very important day for all of us. Forming a Professional Educator Standards Board has been a long-time dream of mine. Research now confirms what parents have known all along -- the most important influence on student learning in classrooms is a great teacher.

I learned that right here at Beacon Elementary in Mr. Greften's sixth-grade class. I was a shy kid, and had a hard time my first few years of school. I was living one culture at home, and a whole different one at school. I didn't know if I was smart or stupid. I really had no sense of who I was. Until Mr. Greften.

Mr. Greften paid attention to me -- the good kind of attention. He made me feel appreciated and heard. And he was always coming up with these ideas.

I remember the way he would encourage me to write reports. Once, I wrote a very lengthy paper on the Metro sewage system just as they were building the Metro. Those things fascinated me, go figure. I went to the library and found out how they were digging up the streets and putting in these huge sewage pipes -- 8-feet in diameter. I mean, cars could drive through these things.

Mr. Greften encouraged me as I wrote that report, and then he said it was so good, I should give a presentation to the whole class. So I did. He sent me around to all of the other classrooms, too, to give that presentation.

Mr. Greften always knew how to make me feel very good about myself.

Mr. Greften also took our class on a three-day field trip out in the woods. That was really the first time I got out, except for Boy Scouts, and Mr. Greften made me one of the class leaders on the outing. I can still remember how proud I felt; how much confidence Mr. Greften taught me to have in myself; how he encouraged me to pursue the things I was interested in; how he taught me that I'm OK. A good person, a smart person. And nothing has been the same since.

Mr. Greften, may I -- finally -- thank you for being the best teacher a kid could ask for, for changing my life.

This new board will ensure that all our kids will get the benefit of being taught by teachers of Mr. Greften's caliber. But we know it takes more than just great teachers. That's why this board is composed of and will provide ongoing professional development growth for all educators, including principals, superintendents, other district administrators, and specialists such as our school counselors, speech pathologists and nurses. By empowering our educators, this board will help our educators empower our children to perform at the best of their ability, which, in turn, empowers us all.

As governor, I want to ensure that every educator certified by the state is a great one. Thus, this new board will have authority for overseeing new basic skills and subject-matter assessments, which will be required of all new teachers prior to state certification.

In addition, the board will advise state policymakers on the full range of issues affecting educators, including recruitment, hiring, certification (especially alternative certification), mentoring, professional development, retention, evaluation, and revocation and suspension of licensure.

I pushed for this board because I believe that for Washington to set and uphold the highest standards for education professionals, it must be the distinguished professionals themselves at the helm, pushing the changes we need to make.

Creating this board takes an important step in that direction -- giving our professional educators the authority and responsibility for continuous improvement.

All of our new board members are listed on the handouts you were given, but we are lucky to have a couple members with us here today.

In fact, I just had lunch with Tom Charouhas, a science and technology teacher from Rose Junior High School, who has been chosen as the chair of the board. His father, Desmond Charouhas, who dedicated 33 years to the teaching profession, is here, too.

Tom, would you like to say a few words? Let's welcome Tom Charouhas.
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