In 1998, a colleague came to my classroom and talked with me about National Board Certification – a new challenge for accomplished teachers. She had recently earned certification and suggested that I pursue it because she believed I was good enough! She based her conclusion on student work on the walls and by passing my classroom regularly and hearing my teaching voice spill into the hallways.
My initial steps to pursue Board certification
I learned more including the fact that Board certification was the highest K-12 certification you could earn. My colleague was honest, telling me that it was time consuming and rigorous and would be a challenge given my life outside of school including being a mother. But, she achieved certification with two children and I believed I could do it, too.
I wondered why I had not heard of Board certification from my State Department of Education or from my principal. It was a fellow teacher who wanted me to be a part of group!
After some reflection, I agreed to pursue Board certification only after my colleague promised to be my mentor through the process. The work was challenging. Time consuming. It required self-reflection and significant effort.
In spring 2000 I submitted my materials and was informed that I’d receive results in November. Finally, one cool November day, I retrieved a letter from my mailbox. News from the National Board.
“Congratulations,” it read. I had achieved Board Certification! I shared the news with family and friends but I saved my biggest smile for when I went to school and told my friend and mentor Joyce that I passed!
What Board certification meant
Much has transpired since 2000. My colleague left the classroom to take on other pursuits in education; I stayed in the trenches because I passionately enjoy demonstrating accomplished teaching to students, parents, colleagues and administration. Did it change my life? Absolutely. I was looked upon as a trail blazer, expert, one of those with the coveted NBCT letters behind her name. I was celebrated by my district, and my school hung a banner with my name on it. For me, the biggest celebration came from my state governor. He awarded a 12% pay differential to me and all NBCTs (that continues today). Wow!
National Board Certification was the first meaningful professional development I encountered since leaving my teacher prep program. It validated what I had been trained to do at East Carolina University and labeled it, “accomplished teaching.” I renewed my certification in 2010 and I am still in the trenches, sprinting through my second lap and looking forward to the third lap where I will renew again in 2020.
Of all my accomplishments, I’m proudest of earning my NBCT. An accomplished teacher shapes a future and leaves a footprint in the sand. I’m a leader for students and I’m also a leader in my school – for other teachers.