There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas about how to make education better. One Lake Havasu City couple is putting their money where their mouths are. Some time ago, Jerry and Cindy Aldridge donated $50,000 to the Arizona K12 Foundation to encourage teachers obtain professional development through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

The Foundation announced last week that it recently awarded three new teachers with $2,000 apiece for their completion of their national certification.

This is the kind of commitment to education we need in Lake Havasu City. Studies have shown that professional development is key to retaining employees, something that has been relatively difficult for schools across Arizona and particularly in Lake Havasu City. That’s something local voters and the school board have tried to address over the last year, offering higher wages thanks to 2016’s budget override. Teacher retention, however, remains difficult. That’s why we can’t say enough about the additional support voluntarily offered by the community, from people like the Aldridge family and organizations like the K12 Foundation.

Taxpayer money can only go so far, and it’s unfair to ask teachers, who don’t make a lot of money in the first place, to pay for all of their own professional development. True, it means they’ll possibly get paid more money in the long run, and will certainly have more and better professional opportunities. (In Havasu, six of the certified teachers have moved on to other districts, and two have retired). But it’s a worthwhile investment. Local school districts — specifically, our kids — are the real winners when teachers are better equipped for the task.

Anything we can do as a community to improve the state of local education should be welcomed and encouraged.

The national board certification is a rigorous three-year process.

So far, 23 teacher shave completed their certification through the national program. Fifteen are listed on the school district’s website, and it’s clear that most schools are being touched by this program that is said to help teachers improve their skills and emerge as leaders on their campuses and in their communities.

This Today’s News-Herald editorial piece was originally published on March 8, 2018.