Some may be surprised: teachers work to aim higher for the interest of students and themselves. Some may do so by showing more videos in class, playing interactive games in class, or taking the time to learn and understand the core knowledge of teaching.

Having a National Board Teaching Certification is the highest license a teacher can acquire. This certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond the teaching license standards. 

Five Godwin teachers have the certification: English teacher Lynn Farley, science teacher Joshua McKeon, English teacher Miriam Ashworth, Godwin Innovative Learning Coach Eric Hoefler, and art teacher Dana Morris. 

Christie Maddox

Three teachers are currently working on getting the certification: math teacher Jacob Earle, history teacher Jessica Harvey, and English teacher and yearbook sponsor Christie Maddox.

Joshua McKeon

The average amount of time to get the certification is around two years.

“I was able to finish in one year, but teachers are given one to three years for Henrico County to assist [them]. Anything beyond that [teachers] get a little less support,” said McKeon.

On the other hand, Maddox has decided to take her time on it. 

“I started this past summer, in August… and I’m currently on what I would say is the long-term plan. I’m doing the slow and steady process of working on two components this year and my plan is to do two components next year…so it’ll be about two years,” said Maddox.

Even though it takes a while to complete, there are many reasons why teachers would like to be certified.

“I’ve always really loved teaching, so I was excited to develop and just be a better teacher in general,” said McKeon.

Maddox explained that she also wanted to improve and do the best she could for her students, as well as consider her own ways of teaching.

There are many reasons why teachers would decide to get the certification, such as a financial benefit. Yet both teachers stated that the more important benefit is how it’s the best way to grow as a teacher.

“The students are going to have a stronger teacher…The benefits for me personally [are]being able to reflect and grow as a teacher,” said Maddox.

The procedure is a long and arduous one, with four different components to complete. McKeon described it as having a test and a project to complete.

“It [has] a multiple choice and writing component, but then the three other components are…you have to record yourself [while teaching], you have to write about [how you teach], and you have to design an entire lesson plan,” said Mckeon.

Like some tests and quizzes, teachers can redo components as well if they aren’t satisfied or if they didn’t get the score they wanted after turning it in.

The process can also be overwhelming at times.

“There’s just a lot of information…and it isn’t until you start writing your actual essay or your component that all of the pieces start to kind of fall together, so at times it felt really daunting, you couldn’t really figure out where to start,” said Maddox.

To help teachers stay on track and not get overwhelmed, part of the process is to work with different teachers and have meetings to discuss progress.

“So other Henrico teachers, we all meet once a month to get help, to discuss what the process really is, how to break down the components and look at what we’re looking for, and those meetings are really helpful,” said Maddox.

Teachers must submit all of their work to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and a group of teachers will examine and evaluate the submitted work and determine if the teacher can get the certification.

After all of their hard work, teachers use what they have learned from the process in the classroom. 

“[Because of the certification] I feel very much in stride with teaching, very confident with what I’m doing, and I think that reflects in the students too…I do feel like the environment overall is strong, and a lot of that is because National Board helps you be very intentional about what you’re doing,” said McKeon.

The process gives teachers the background knowledge as to how and why they are naturally good at teaching. It gives them a deeper understanding of teaching as a whole. 

“It’s making me a better and stronger teacher, so then subsequently that will be benefiting [students] as well…it’s some professional development on my end, but then as a reflective teacher, I will then be able to be better for my students,” said Maddox.

Teachers are like students. They want to learn and grow as teachers, learn the best process for teaching, understand what the students enjoy, and how to make the class more interesting and successful.

“I am just a believer that teachers are always people who need to continue to grow on their own. We’re educated for a reason. We enjoy learning, and so this is just a part of my continued learning,” said Maddox.

Teachers are guides in a student’s educational path. They want to be as successful as possible, and how high they want to go is their decision, just like a student’s decision on being successful in school.

“Your teachers are here ‘cause they like education, they believe in the system. Of course, if you do anything in life, you want to be good at it,” said McKeon.

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