Going beyond the state’s requirements.
That’s how Maggie Hernandez, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Calhoun County ISD, described the accomplishment of two instructors who earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
The accomplishments of Fjola Briscoe and Brittney Rothmann were acknowledged by the CCISD school board during its Jan. 17 meeting. They are the only National Board certified teachers in the district.
The certification is recognized as the gold standard, and the board believes higher standards for teachers mean better learning for students. It was established in 1987 and is an independent, non-profit organization working to advance accomplished teaching for all students, according to its website, www.nbpts.org.
“National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education, providing numerous benefits to teachers, students, and schools. The certification process consists of approximately 200 hours of gathering evidence and reflecting on the individual’s teaching practices,” said Hernandez.
Rothmann said it was a huge accomplishment to join the ranks as one of the very few National Board Certified teachers.
“Approximately three percent of teachers nationwide are National Board Certified. There were only 89 new NBCTs in the entire state of Texas this year, and only 0.32 percent of all teachers in Texas have obtained this certification,” she said. “To be a National Board Certified teacher is incredibly special to me. I am so proud to represent HJM Elementary and Calhoun County ISD as one of the few who have obtained this level of achievement.”
Briscoe echoed Rothmann’s sentiment. “Only myself and one other teacher in CCISD hold this certification,” she said. “I am very proud of all the efforts our cohort put forth during this process, and I am proud of myself for reaching this personal goal and accomplishment. It was a grueling time for all of us who attempted the National Board Certification, but with Angela Tullos as our glue, we were able to submit all four components in less than a year.”
HOW IT STARTED
A few years ago, CCISD provided information on the Teacher Incentive Allotment and the National Board Certification, as well as information on a National Board cohort, according to Briscoe.
“Being that at the time I was a reading interventionist/dyslexia teacher, I did not qualify for TIA, and therefore I went forward with pursuing National Board Certification through the CCISD cohort led by Angela Tullos,” she said. “Myself and a handful of others started our National Board Certification journey in the fall semester of 2021, and it gave me the ability to demonstrate my professional knowledge and hone my knowledge in literacy.”
Rothmann decided to pursue the certification as well when the cohort was offered.
“This has actually been a personal goal of mine for a long time. I first learned about National Board Certification over 10 years ago when I was teaching in Virginia. A couple of my colleagues were in the process of obtaining certification, and I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t right for me to pursue it then,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to seek this certification because I felt it would make me a more reflective teacher and improve my classroom performance.”
CCISD helped with the fees for the four components of the certification, said Hernandez.
The four components are 1: Content Knowledge Test; 2: Differentiation in Instruction; 3: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment; and 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner.
It took around a year for the teachers to complete the requirements before the exam.
“I joined the cohort in August of 2021, and after careful analysis of the requirements, I started working on the component writings and recording myself teaching before Christmas,” said Briscoe.
Rothmann started the process in May 2021.
“Although candidates can take up to four years to certify, our cohort group completed all four components in one year. I decided in May of 2021 that I was going to pursue certification the following school year. I spent the summer reading, planning, and preparing. We formed our cohort in the fall, and that is when we began the serious work of digging into each component and collecting evidence,” Rothmann said.
It was a challenge for both Briscoe and Rothmann.
“I created my electronic organizational system in January of 2022, and I worked during the evenings and weekends to compile and write my components. The most challenging component was 38 pages made up of written commentary, data, and evidence,” said Briscoe. “I submitted my portfolio in mid-May of 2022 and then focused on Component 1, which is the proctored literacy test. I went to Rosenberg and took my exam on June 1, 2022. It was then time for the long waiting game, as results were not coming out until Dec. 10, 2022.”
Rothmann said without the support of her family, her husband, friends and colleagues, and her cohort, she found it difficult to continue.
“I will admit that it was very difficult at times to keep going. I actually considered quitting when I lost my dad unexpectedly last February. I had gotten a little behind in my writing, and my heart just wasn’t in it at that moment,” she said. “My family, specifically my mom and my husband, encouraged me to continue and complete the process. I made a detailed plan and stuck to it. It took many nights and weekends of nonstop work, but I followed through and completed everything.””
National Board Certified teachers are actually a win for everyone.
Rothmann said the process reminded her of what she does daily in the classroom and that it matters.
“It has strengthened my instructional skills and made me a more reflective practitioner. I have also earned a Recognized designation through the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program, which will provide a monetary award,” she said. “But my students have a teacher that has demonstrated accomplished teaching at the highest level.”
Briscoe said the certification is a benefit as she works to support the teachers at Seadrift School.
“When teachers are National Board Certified on a campus, it benefits the students greatly because it directly impacts the teacher’s instructional practices. These shifts include adjusting lesson plans and meeting the needs of individual students, using data in new ways to assess student progress and learning goals, and deepening their content knowledge,” she said.
“Teachers by nature are lifelong learners. I continually learn new things, and I try to apply what I’ve learned every single day,” said Rothmann. “A huge part of this process is understanding the Architecture of Accomplished Teaching. It’s all about knowing your students, knowing where to begin, setting appropriate goals, implementing an effective instructional sequence to achieve those goals, evaluating learning, reflecting on the outcome, and then setting new goals to move students forward,” she explained.
Both Rothmann and Briscoe encourage other teachers to go through the process.
“I work with and know so many talented teachers that already demonstrate accomplished teaching every day. I would love to see more teachers in our district pursue this certification and be recognized for the amazing work they already do,” said Rothmann.
“I believe CCISD has a strong cohort foundation to support teachers in their journey. It may seem like an overwhelming amount of work, but with the proper pacing and guidance, it is obtainable for those interested,” said Briscoe. “I want to truly thank CCISD for the ability to complete this career milestone and the financial funding as well to make this goal possible.”