National Board Fellows Revealed; Plan to Advance Accomplished Teaching

ARLINGTON, Va. — June 4, 2018 – The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has announced the inaugural class of National Board Fellows for 2018-19. Five fellows were selected from a highly impressive group of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) from across the country: Melissa Chandler of Maryland, Melissa Collins of Tennessee, Jaime Festa-Daigle of Arizona, Rodrigo Rodriguez-Tovar of Texas, and Amy Steger of New York.

“Our 350 applicants made it clear that Board certification is a powerful force in schools across the country and NBCTs are dedicated to accomplished teaching and ensuring every child gets a quality education. Our five fellows stand out as extraordinary educators, committed to education leadership and serving as a guiding light to our work at the National Board,” said Peggy Brookins, NBCT, President & CEO of the National Board.

Each fellow will have a high-impact role supporting National Board’s work to cultivate accomplished teaching throughout the United States. The fellows will build leadership skills while working on teams to strengthen a range of National Board programs including communications, awareness, and educator engagement.

Meet the fellows:

Melissa Chandler, NBCT has been an instrumental music educator for 15 years at the elementary and high school levels. She currently teaches at Youth’s Benefit Elementary School in Fallston, Maryland and has taken on a number of mentorship and leadership opportunities throughout her career. Chandler looks forward to expanding candidate support networks in order to engage greater numbers of educators through the Board-certification process.

Melissa Collins, NBCT has been an elementary school teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis, Tennessee for 19 years. Collins is an advocate for global learning, STEM education, and high standards and has experience mentoring her fellow teachers through the National Board process. A 2014 finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year, she looks forward to highlighting the importance of teachers driving their own professional development through the National Board Certification process.

Jaime Festa-Daigle, NBCT was Assistant Principal at Lake Havasu, Arizona High School for five years before becoming the Director of Personnel for Lake Havasu Unified School District. An Arizona Master Teacher, Festa-Daigle is part of the board of directors for both the Arizona Rural Schools Association and AZK12. She looks forward to growing accomplished teaching across the country and in rural areas, something she has prior experience in as an advocate for rural schools at the local, state, and national level.

Rodrigo Rodriguez-Tovar, NBCT is a Bilingual Literacy Coach for the Austin, Texas Independent School District and the 2017 National Bilingual Teacher of the Year. An English language learner himself, Rodriguez-Tovar now advocates for ELL students and works to support new educators in his district through the local Teacher Induction Program and is a facilitator for National Board Certification and early career educators. He is committed to sharing valuable competencies with other educators in his role as National Board Fellow to strengthen and improve the teaching profession with the goal of providing students with high-quality instruction by an accomplished teacher.

Amy Steger, NBCT is a special education teacher and NYS School Building Leader. Steger was instrumental in establishing and facilitating a professional learning community for teachers across the Eden Central School District in New York. Already holding a Masters in Differentiated Instruction, Steger is currently pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership at the University of New York at Buffalo and is ready to help elevate the teaching profession in her role as a National Board Fellow.

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About the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (

The founding mission of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by: (1) maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; (2) providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; and (3) advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers. Recognized as the “gold standard” in teacher certification, the National Board believes higher standards for teachers means better learning for students.