School division celebrates National Board Certified Teachers

Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) currently has 126 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), making the school division the fourth highest in the Commonwealth of Virginia with educators who have this distinction – an accomplishment worthy of recognition.

For that reason, the Office of Professional Growth and Innovation (PGI) hosted a back-to-school networking reception Sept. 27 to provide NBCTs an opportunity to network with their colleagues across the division and take part in an annual group photo – something that has become a tradition. Representatives from the departments of School Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Planning, Innovation and Accountability (PIA) and Human Resources attended as well to show their support and appreciation for the division’s NBCTs.

Currently, 83 teachers are going through the certification process, which is the highest mark of professional accomplishment and most respected certification in the teaching profession.

Offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Board Certification is a voluntary certification that takes from one to five years to complete and is based on rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. As a symbol of professional teaching excellence, receiving this advanced certification attests that an instructional staff member has been judged by his or her peers to be an accomplished educator.

Sarah Payne, professional learning specialist with PGI, shares that teachers who seek certification are not alone in the process.

“They receive support from the school division through Saturday workshops, overview sessions about the process and mentoring from current NBCTs,” she shared. “In addition, this year I partnered with the Virginia Beach Education Association and received a $5,000 grant from the National Education Association (NEA) to train Virginia Beach teachers who are now serving as trainers for candidates in our division.”

Payne also hopes to once again secure grant funding to send additional teachers to intensive training in Maryland this spring.

Those who have earned the certification say it’s well worth it.

Gwen Mawhinney, third-grade teacher at Salem Elementary School who has taught 18 years in VBCPS and earned her certification in 2016, says that she did it for one reason.

“To make myself better for my kids so I would look at what I was doing with them,” she said.

Reid Baker, who taught for 10 years as an English teacher and is now in his second year as a technology education teacher at Lynnhaven Middle School, also agreed and added that there was an additional important reason.

“When you do something for so long you get really comfortable and sometimes you feel like you plateau,” he shared. “[NBCT] really allows you to get out of your comfort zone and really try some new things that you might have never tried before.”

Congratulations to all of our 126 NBCTs and the 83 who are currently on their journey to earn the profession’s highest distinction.

Candidates can sign up for the process at any time. To learn more about the process and supports, contact Payne at or at 757-263-6972.

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