'Teacher of the Year' Quits When Told She's Unqualified

Ann Marie Corgill had taught in Alabama for 21 years
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2015 3:30 PM CST

A longtime Alabama educator who has won Teacher of the Year honors resigned last week when her "frustration boiled over" with bureaucracy. Informed that she lacked the state qualifications to teach 5th grade, Ann Marie Corgill resigned from Birmingham City Schools, NPR reports. "After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests, and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning," she wrote in her resignation letter. Corgill, who was 2014-2015 Alabama Teacher of the Year and a 2015 National Teacher of the Year finalist, this year joined the staff at Oliver Elementary as a 2nd-grade teacher; she was then shifted to teach 5th grade. But roughly a month into her new role, a state education administrator called and said she lacked the certification to continue, AL.com reports.

This despite Corgill's National Board Certification to teach students between ages 7 and 12, which usually covers fifth grade. "When an inquiry was made, the department reported that her current [state] teaching certificate covers primary grades through Grade 3," says the Alabama Department of Education in a statement; it says the national certification doesn't trump the state requirements. As a Title I school, Oliver Elementary receives federal dollars because many of its students are from low-income families; so it requires that all teachers be "highly qualified," a standard Corgill apparently didn't meet, AL.com reports. "When the news came that I was not considered highly qualified, my frustration boiled over," Corgill says. "...[I] will continue to give my life to the profession. Every child I teach and learn from is a part of me. I love them and work to give them my best." (Read about another highly unusual teaching situation.)

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