The Five Core Propositions: A Framework for Community and Connection

March 18, 2020

It’s 12:26 A.M here in Las Vegas. It’s only been a few hours since Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a statewide closure of all casinos, restaurants, bars, and nonessential businesses for the next 30 days. This latest response to COVID-19 comes only two days after Governor Sisolak announced the closure of all public, charter, and private schools, and five days after he held a press conference to declare a state of emergency for Nevada. Circumstances have changed quickly. It seems not that long ago that news of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China was being reported. Tonight, as I watch the news, I am overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing numbers of individuals that have tested positive for the coronavirus and of those who have died. My mind is racing even as I acknowledge that there isn’t precision in the numbers. I wonder when and how the pandemic will come to pass.

As scientists and researchers seek to predict the impact of COVID-19 on our global community, I am consumed with the gravity of our situation. I pause. I’m thinking of family, friends, and colleagues who have reached out to me in the past week as I chose to remain home because of my chronic asthma. I hadn’t been feeling well as I experienced a painfully, sore throat, coughing, and a low-grade fever. It was best to be cautious because, for me, the slightest cold and congestion often trigger the onset of an asthma attack.

And as I pause, I consider how my circle of colleagues have come to be my family and friends. I think of how I have built relationships with teaching colleagues, most specifically National Board Certified Teachers and National Board candidates, and how these relationships – these colleagues, these family, and friends – not only in Nevada, but in Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vermont, and Nairobi, Kenya, embrace me, challenge me, define me, and empower me.

These relationships seeded and nurtured within the frame that I use to ground teaching and learning as a classroom teacher, are rooted within the Five Core Propositions. Embodying each of the Five Core Propositions as an accomplished teacher, I have come to employ these foundational tenets of excellent teaching as a framework and guide for my many, diverse professional roles as a teacher leader, a colleague, and Board member, as well as for my personal roles as a friend, a daughter, a wife, and a mother. I have intentionally and purposefully built professional and personal relationships upon my knowledge of, engagement with, and commitment to my colleagues, friends, and family (Core Proposition One). I have relied upon and leaned into my learnings of human development and psychology to inform and further build my relationships and engagement within my professional and personal ecosystems (Core Proposition Two). Often, continuously, I have given thought to and reflected upon how my engagement with my family, friends, and colleagues has impacted the varied paths our relationships have taken (Core Propositions Three and Four). Resulting in the circle of trust that consists of National Board colleagues, certified teachers, and candidates, who are ‘my community’ (Core Proposition Five).

I could not have imagined the impact that the pursuit of National Board certification would have in my professional and personal lives – as distinct as I once believed these two identities were, they are intertwined as one. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. And teaching, learning, and leading as a National Board Certified Teacher has profoundly transformed how I show up as a teacher and a teacher leader; significantly influencing my personal identity as well.

And it is now, in this time of great crisis, that I acknowledge how the embodiment of the Five Core Propositions influences how I am processing and understanding the impact of COVID-19. And it is my community of National Board colleagues, friends, and family that are lifting me up, empowering me, and embracing me in these uncertain times. It is this community, my National Board community, that is the difference for me, giving me the courage to be confident in connecting, especially during this time of social distancing when we so desperately need to be connected to one another.

It is my hope that in the days, weeks, and months ahead, as we continue to navigate our national and global challenges, that others will pause, reflect, and connect with their #NBCTStrong community.

Tonia Holmes-Sutton, NBCT

Tonia Holmes-Sutton, Ed.D., NBCT, is a member of the NBPTS Board of Directors and is leading the way in education advocacy in Nevada. She is a twenty-year veteran teacher and leads as the State Director for Teach Plus Nevada. She is the 2020 Alumna of the Year at UNLV College of Education. Additionally, Holmes-Sutton served as a former Governor-appointed member on the Nevada State Board of Education. She presently serves as a Board Director for WestEd, a Board Trustee for the National Teachers Hall of Fame, a member of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority Board, and as a founding member of the National Network of Accomplished Minoritized Educators. Please follow Tonia on Twitter at @tholmessutton