Glad to have done national certification

To the editor:

The National Board Certification for Teaching is a process that requires teachers to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for teaching in their content areas. Each teacher’s performance is individually examined by trained classroom educators and assessed by the highest standards in the profession.

After finishing up a large national curriculum project and being brief on the process from those colleagues, I chose to undertake the journey of National Board Certification. I was fortunate to have the administrative support of Saranac Lake High School (even though no teacher from Saranac Lake had pursued it before), the support of several colleagues including Gail Meyer, Linda Brousseau and Seth Putnam, support from the Union Graduate College group that was partially funded through CASADA, and my parents. Some financial support was available through the Albert Shanker Grant, helping to fund the cost of the actual certification.

If I had known the impact the process would have had on my teaching, I would have pursued it earlier. It was by far the most enlightening professional development I’ve ever done. The process forced me to critically look at everyday instructional decisions and evaluate their effectiveness on student learning. The National Board standards are quite rigorous and aligned to school standards. As a result of write analysis and reflection on student work and video of my classroom, I have transformed as an educator. It allowed me to balance the questioning of practices while integrating innovative approaches to the challenging chemistry content. The process has sharpened my focus on student learning. The honest approach of examining strengths and weakness has resulted in me being a much better educator for our students. A year later, I am still utilizing similar analysis and reflection practices, continually seeking to use items that will most benefit my current student population.

In the United States there are currently more than 97,000 National Board-certified teachers. In New York state there are currently more than 1,200 teachers, with 92 board-certified 7-12 science teachers. The 2011-12 cohort of New York state teachers resulted in 152 achieving the certification. Within the Adirondack part, there are four teachers, and north of Albany/Utica there are fewer than 10.

*Data reflects teachers’ place of employment as self-reported in the NBPTS database. For more information on state data, contact Rita Pin Ahrens at

Amanda Zullo

Saranac Lake