[ Teaching & Learning ]

NYSUT salutes state’s 75 new NBCTs

By Sylvia Saunders



ith the COVID-19 shutdown, hybrid learning and quarantines for students and faculty, West Genesee Middle School teacher Ellen Miller almost gave up on her three-year quest to become a National Board Certified Teacher. Several times.

West Genesee TA members Ellen Miller, Alyssa Hammerschmidt, Susan Francesconi and Pam Ciarla
West Genesee School District

From left, West Genesee TA members Ellen Miller, Alyssa Hammerschmidt, Susan Francesconi and Pam Ciarla say working together helped them achieve National Board Certification.

But thanks to a support cohort through her regional teacher center, Miller and three other West Genesee colleagues made it through the rigorous process. They’re among New York’s 75 teachers who achieved National Board Certification in December 2022 and were honored April 19 in an online event hosted by NYSUT and the State Education Department.

“All of the extra, unexpected obstacles made what was already a very challenging endeavor seem absolutely impossible at times,” said Miller, a sixth-grade ELA and social studies teacher. “We all at some point wanted to quit, but we kept each other going!”

The group, led by professional learning facilitator Kimberly Smith, an NBCT herself, provided both professional and emotional support. The educators met monthly at West Genesee High School, sharing resources, helping each other with videotaping lessons and proofreading each other’s writing for the portfolio components of the national certification.

“We also met in between on our own, and in the summer, too,” Miller said, noting two others in the cohort are still finishing up this year. “COVID really messed things up so it took us an extra year — but we’re really proud of what we accomplished.”

New York is now home to 2,299 National Board Certified Teachers, with hundreds more educators still in the process, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Candidates typically spend 200–400 hours completing the extensive application including a portfolio, student work samples, videos and analysis of their teaching and student learning.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said the union strongly supports national board candidates by offering awareness programs, writing retreats, online discussion forums and professional learning through the union’s Education & Learning Trust and the statewide network of teacher centers. The union has also successfully advocated for local incentives, stipends and the state’s Albert Shanker Grant, which covers the costs for National Board Certification.

In collective bargaining agreements, nearly 300 school districts provide financial incentives including stipends and step increases. “We know the value NBCTs bring to our profession,” DiBrango said.

Want to know more about the prestigious credential? Teachers interested in pursuing National Board Certification can find resources online, including candidate support programs, NYSUT-funded writing institutes and a list of districts that offer incentives. Go to nysut.org/NBPTS.

It’s a celebration!

NYSUT and the State Education Department co-hosted a special livestream celebration of the state’s newest National Board Certified Teachers on April 19. Speakers included NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango; Education Commissioner Betty Rosa; Regents Board Chancellor Lester Young; Regent Roger Tilles; Peggy Brookins, president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and Katie Ferguson, a Schenectady teacher, NBCT and 2012 NYS Teacher of the Year. Catch the replay at nysut.org/NBCT.