Jimmel Williams wanted to become a better teacher. So he decided to get his certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He was one of 98 CMS educators who earned the honor this year. Ninety-one others renewed their certifications. See a list of all the educators here. Williams and the others were honored at a reception on Jan. 25.
Williams, an eighth-grade math teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts, was traveling across the country last summer doing training for other teachers as part of Success by Design when a teacher in Arizona approached him about the program. "They really encouraged me to go for it since I was training them," he said. "I wanted to do it in one year and not drag it out, so I really went for it!"
National Board certification is a rigorous voluntary certification for teachers, media specialists and school counselors. The process is based on Five Core Propositions that closely parallel the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards. Candidates demonstrate how they use data to personalize learning for their students. They may complete the certification process in one to three consecutive years. The process includes online testing, analysis of student work and videos of their instruction. Certified teachers receive a 12 percent salary differential and certified teachers receive a full cycle of renewal credit on their North Carolina teaching license.
"Many NBCTs report that the process is the most meaningful professional development in which they have ever participated," said Linda Yarbrough, professional development specialist. "The process encourages them to become more reflective practitioners."
Williams said the process was difficult at first and that he started printing everything out to make sure he was meeting all the requirements. He relied heavily on Yarbrough for her expertise. "I just made a decision that I was going to complete this process, no matter what it took," he said. "I waited seven months and four days to get my test results and I was overwhelmed. I am honored to know that I was able to accomplish it. It validates a lot of the things I do in the classroom. Teachers do a lot that you don't see. You just know, 'This teacher is excellent.' This process helps make you excellent."
His students benefited from the process as well. One student he worked with grew from a level one to a level four while another grew from a two to a four. "Being able to actually work with your students helps you to be effective," he said. "We don't have the time as teachers to be able to create something just for National Board."
Gabrielle Sledge, a counselor at Kennedy Middle, said that many professional development opportunities have not been tailored for school counselors but that the certification process definitely was. "This is the best PD that you can get," she said. "It forces you to look at what you are doing and how you know that it is effective."
Earning her certification was a three-year process for Sledge. She joined a study group and said that support helped her greatly. "I highly recommend finding a study group or partner," she said. "It's incredibly valuable. It's almost like you're back in school again. As counselors, we wear so many hats and have so many roles. The flow of the school day just controls us sometimes. This process was so valuable in that it brought me back to why I am here and what I am
supposed to be doing."
There were challenges along the way. Sledge recorded a lesson on her phone, only to find out that she'd recorded in portrait mode and needed to reshoot the lesson. She worked on creating a lesson for students about selecting college courses and tried it eight different times. "I added an art activity, played graduation music, I tried to do everything I could to make it interactive and useful," she said. "I became a more well-rounded counselor who can reach more students. If something didn't work, I would try it again."
In the middle of her certification process, Sledge had a baby. "I had him in my lap working on my documents at
4 a.m.," she said. "So now I have a Board-certified baby."
Kathleen Long, a teacher at Berryhill Elementary, is in her 13th year of teaching and decided to pursue her certification to improve herself and better serve her students. "I realized how much more I could be doing to benefit my students," said Long. "I recommend that anyone considering certification attend all the workshops, read and reread all the directions, take care of yourself and be patient with the process. Order Successful Strategies in Pursing National Board Certificationby Bobbi Faulkner."
The registration deadline for 2017-2018 candidates is Jan. 31. CMS has provided a candidate support program since 1998. Educators interested in learning more about National Board Certification may visit the CMS candidate wiki.
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