The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Announces New Board Members

ARLINGTON, Va. – November 19, 2020 – The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), announced today the election of five prominent educators to its Board of Directors, including accomplished educators from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and New York.

“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome our newly elected Board members. They bring a wide range of experience and insight and I’m confident that they will help us advance our mission,” said Peggy Brookins, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), president and CEO of the National Board.

Joining the NBPTS Board of Directors are:

  • Melissa Collins NBCT an elementary school teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis. A 2020 National Teacher Hall of Fame inductee, Collins won the Sanford Teacher Award, the Global Teacher Prize Finalist (Top 50), the Queen Smith Award, the Stephen Sondheim Award, the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the National Science Teaching Association Sylvia Shugrue Award, and the West Tennessee Teacher of the Year.
  • Sharif El-Mekki is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development. He formerly founded The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice, and served as a nationally recognized principal and U.S. Department of Education Principal Ambassador Fellow. 
  • Kareem Neal is the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year. He has taught students with cognitive delays for 23 years in Phoenix, Arizona and is a 2019-2021 Understood Teacher Fellow. He is also vice president of the Phoenix Union High School District’s Black Alliance.
  • Juliana Urtubey, NBCT is the 2020-2021 Nevada State Teacher of the Year. She teaches at  Booker Elementary School in Las Vegas and is a Nevada Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow, an Understood Teacher Fellow and mentor, a Nevada Department of Education Superintendent Teacher Advisory Cabinet member, and a learning facilitator with the Nevada National Board Professional Learning Institute.
  • José Luis Vilson, NBCT is a veteran educator, writer, speaker, and activist in New York City, NY. He is the author of This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education. He has spoken about education, math, and race for a number of organizations and publications, including the New York Times, The Guardian, TED, El Diario / La Prensa and The Atlantic. He’s a National Board Certified teacher, a Math for America Master Teacher, and the executive director of EduColor, an organization dedicated to race and social justice issues in education. He is currently doing his doctoral studies at Teachers College, Columbia University with a focus on sociology and education.

These new directors were elected during the National Board’s November board meeting to join other education and business professionals who serve three-year terms on the NBPTS Board — including former Commissioner of the Kentucky Board of Education, Terry Holliday, who serves as chair. The majority of NBPTS board members are NBCTs.

Also announced at the meeting, 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. 

“We know that National Board Certified Teachers have a measurable impact on student learning. To achieve our mission, the NBPTS Board of Directors and staff work tirelessly to increase the number of National Board Certified Teachers across the nation and to drive policy to help ensure that all students have the best possible teacher. I’m excited to welcome our new board members who join a board that has a great range of experience and serve as a powerful force to help the National Board elevate the teaching profession,” said Terry Holliday, Board Chair.

Members retiring from the Board of Directors include: Melissa Albright, NBCT, teacher at Wilson’s Creek 5/6 Intermediate School in Springfield, Missouri who has served since 2014; Catherine Anderson, NBCT, faculty member at the St. Mary’s of Minnesota Master of Arts in Education Wisconsin program and guest teacher with the Eau Claire Area School District who has served since 2011; and Susanne Silk, NBCT, teacher at Western Technology Center in Sayre, Oklahoma who has served since 2011.

Nationwide, more than 125,000 teachers have achieved National Board Certification, demonstrating that they have met the profession’s highest standards for accomplished practice. National Board Certification is available in 25 certificate areas, from Pre-K through 12th grade.

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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: maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards, and 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.