Summer classes offer insight into National Board Certification

Ocean Lakes Elementary fifth-grade teacher Erin Williams always had National Board Certification in the back of her mind but never thought she was up to the challenge.

“Honestly, the students I had this year taught me a lot about perseverance, commitment and the ability to overcome challenges,” said the 13-year teaching veteran. “If I have high expectations for them, why can’t I do the same for myself?” she asked.

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Larkspur Middle School teacher Amy Fentress also had students in mind.

“We do have struggling students in our schools and, oftentimes, I feel that there is more that I could be doing. I needed to do something to become a better teacher—just be the best teacher I can be.”

Even second-year teacher Debbie Sholar, who previously was a specialist for 12 years, was also interested in the National Board Certificated Teacher process—again, to help students.

“Strengthening my teaching skills and meeting new people who can help me become a better teacher is the reason why I’m here today.”

Sholar was referring to the first of several “National Board Certification Overview: Are You Thinking about Starting the Process” classes offered this summer by the Office of Professional Growth and Innovation (PGI).

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Taught by someone who was in their same seat only seven years ago, the class covers eligibility requirements; areas of certification and why one’s future professional plans matter; the four components that one must pass and how they are scored; costs; deadlines; financial incentives offered by the state and Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS); resources; and Saturday workshops.

“Going through the process made me realize that this was professional development for me,” said Professional Learning Specialist Sarah Payne, who was not only teaching the class, but is also the division’s resource throughout the year for teachers going through or interested in the process.

“Regardless of whether I passed or not, it was about my teaching practices and how I teach students,” she shared. “It pushed me to reflect on what I was doing and why.”

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National Board Certification is a voluntary, rigorous process created by teachers for what teachers should know and be able to do. Certification may take anywhere from three to five years to complete but can be achieved in one. The process consists of four components that involve a computer-based assessment of content knowledge, reflection on student work samples, video and analysis of one’s teaching practice and documented impact as a teaching professional.

This past year, eight VBCPS teachers achieved certification bringing the division’s current total to 140. Across the country, more than 100,000 teachers have earned this professional mark of distinction.

National Board Certification is a pathway in the new VBCPS teacher career lattice. As a credential in the mastery component, Board certification serves as an opportunity for teachers to satisfy and contribute to personal professional growth.

Learn more about the process by visiting the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards website or PGI’s intranet site. Or, browse My Learning Plan for upcoming sessions offered by PGI.

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One thought on “Summer classes offer insight into National Board Certification

  1. I applaud all teachers that decide to undertake this rigorous certification process. Earning the NBCT gives teachers a recognizable “badge of excellence” among their colleagues across the United States. Through the work and support of PGI, VBCPS teachers are well-positioned to accept this challenge if they so choose.

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