Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools honored 250 educators Jan. 23 for achieving National Board Certification (NBC). The ceremony was held at Vance High for 114 newly certified teachers and 136 who earned recertification.
Certification is a rigorous, voluntary process for teachers, school counselors and media specialists and is funded by the educator. Initial certification may be completed in one to three consecutive school years, while renewals must be completed in one school year. Through assessments, teaching portfolios and written exercises, candidates reflect on their strengths, as well as areas for future growth.
"You go to the national site for your score, and you see fireworks pop up if you passed," said LaShae Tietsort, a teacher and multi-classroom leader at Quail Hollow Middle. "I saw the fireworks and didn't care about the score – I screamed out loud."
Tietsort, in her 14th year of teaching, was pursuing certification for the first time and completed the process over two years. She said it was challenging work, and she saw its benefit as she went along.
"I wanted to push myself professionally, and times are different now in the classroom than what they were," she said. "I wanted to get back in, get my feet wet and build on what I already knew."
North Carolina is ranked first in the nation with 22,653 educators who have achieved NBC, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. CMS is ranked fourth nationally with 2,241 certified educators. Certified teachers in North Carolina receive a 12 percent salary increase.
Christina Roth earned her recertification after first achieving NBC as a third-grade teacher at Walter G. Byers School. An educator for 20 years, she works with gifted students at Oaklawn Language Academy and Hickory Grove Elementary.
"It ranks up there with one of my best professional experiences," Roth said. "You're looking for growth and new things you've done. The whole process helps you see themes and your interests where you can go further. It's a unique way of assessing our own abilities as teachers."
For the fourth year, Roth is spending the first Saturday of the month at Spaugh Administrative Center as part of the district's candidate support program. The program was started in 1998 to help educators reach their goals through peer study groups, work sessions and feedback on candidates' work.
"I never thought I'd want to teach adults, but it's great to see them excited about it," Roth said. "My process was so positive – it was the most exhilarating experience – and I want everyone to go through this process. It's difficult, but the support system in place now is top-notch. It's a great accolade and opens a door that allows you to see what you're capable of."
Roth said the work is self-driven and requires a lot of organization and time management. She said it is helpful to go through the process with a colleague and hold each other accountable.
Tietsort said teachers who are hesitant should do their research, become familiar with the expectations and go for it.
"I'm grateful for CMS," Tietsort said. "We get a lot of support, and I utilized it. Even if you don't pass the first time, do it again. The process makes you a good teacher."