National Board Certification Is an Attainable Goal

Hannah Allen is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence Mathematics. She attained this certification in one year while simultaneously finishing up her master’s in curriculum and instruction from Frostburg State University. She just completed her sixth year of teaching 6th grade mathematics and enriched mathematics at Northern Middle School in Washington County. She is a member of the Washington County Teachers Association.

Hannah Allen is a National Board Certified Teacher in Washington County. She achieved her NBC and master’s in the same year, boosting her salary by $17,000.

Ten years ago, I remember being so excited to graduate high school, to be finished with that chapter of my life, and to check that box and move on to the next: college. While college brought me some of my best memories and greatest friends, it was another chapter I couldn’t wait to be done. To be done with the stress and late nights working on what felt like sometimes tedious assignments. I was ready for the next chapter: actually teaching.

My first year was hard but I made it with support from my friends, family, and co-workers. A couple years into teaching, I decided I was ready to begin working on my master’s in curriculum and instruction. I chose to take this slow and only take one or two classes at a time, taking winter breaks off completely. I couldn’t wait to be done.

With the end in sight, and no thoughts for any new projects on my mind, the topic of National Board Certification snuck into my field of vision. I was sitting in a classroom-focused improvement process meeting and the topic of National Board Certification came up. I had heard colleagues discussing this certification before, but I really didn’t know that much about it.

Read “The Truth About the Blueprint,” including how the fee support program covers nearly 100% of the cost of NBC certification.

I learned at that meeting that it’s the most respected professional certification in education, and that by becoming a National Board Certified Teacher at my school, I could earn an extra $17,000 a year. I was sold…almost. I knew the process would be long and challenging. I like to think that I’m pretty confident, but this process had me intimidated. I can’t say for sure that I would have pursued it if my closest co-worker and I hadn’t agreed that we would do it together: all four components, one year, LET’S GO.

And so it began. In the fall of 2022, with four classes left to complete my master’s, I started the process of National Board Certification and right away, I couldn’t wait to be done. Many long nights, early mornings, and more than enough tears later, I hit submit on my three portfolios in
May and took my test component in June.

And now the waiting game began. I completed another course for my master’s over the summer and welcomed three new classes of 6th graders in the fall while also starting my Capstone. By December, I graduated with my master’s degree and learned that both my co-worker and I had both successfully earned our National Board Certification! I was done now, right? Most re-spected professional certification, right? Wrong. In five years, I have to get recertified. I get to prove that what I’m doing in the classroom is still of the highest quality and is impacting my students in positive ways. If there’s anything becoming a National Board Certified Teacher helped solidify for me, it’s that I’m not done. There will always be room to grow and challenges to tackle.

Oh, and just when you think you’ll have a free summer with no commitments or obligations, you might find yourself sitting on the couch with your dog, writing an article for an education column in a magazine (this one) while also thinking about the professional development you have for three
days next week focusing on the International Baccalaureate Programme at your school.

Why? Because you care, and you know that while it feels great to check boxes, accomplishing milestones large and small, the best thing you can do for your students and yourself is to continue to embrace new opportunities that will strengthen your teaching practice. There will always be room to grow and challenges to tackle, but you must be willing to face them.

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