Kristal Doolin

Kristal Doolin

A few weeks ago I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I submitted my Profile of Professional Growth for National Board Certification renewal. There are many teachers out there, whether you are a first time candidate or certified teacher, seeking the required 10 year renewal, who understand the sense of satisfaction I felt.  Now I wait for that all-important email message this fall notifying me that I have either been recertified or denied recertification.

The last time I waited for that e-mail was in 2003.  I had taken on the challenge of National Board Certification because I wanted meaningful professional development that would specifically address my teaching in my classroom.  Moreover, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself,” and I agree.  So, I wanted to be a model of the growth I expected from my students.

I still remember the elation I felt when I opened that e-mail. If you can imagine it – I was five months pregnant and checked my e-mail – like we all do – while on planning. When I opened the message there happened to be a guy from the technology department in my room working on student computers. I screamed and, of course, scared him to death. Without even explaining to him, I grabbed my phone and called my husband. I wanted him to know first.

After telling him though, I wasn’t satisfied and went down my hallway telling anyone I could find. Most had no clue what I was going on about because the National Board process wasn’t well known then like it is now. At the time of my certification there were only 537 National Board Certified teachers in the state. I didn’t care. I knew the mountain I had climbed, and I was finally at the top. Everyone needed to know!

Only those who have endured this process understand not only the intensity of the required analysis of your teaching but the power of it. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my National Board Experience changed me as a teacher, and my gains have translated to my students. I believe I was a reflective teacher before, but my reflection and decision making moved to a whole new plane after this process. For me this has led to success in the classroom, leadership roles, and I believe my position today as 2013 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

If you haven’t considered National Board Certification, I encourage you to take those first steps. I’m sure you have heard that it is difficult, but learning about the process and programs that are out there to support you before beginning can make a difference.  The great part is that the difficulty ends upon completion of the process, but the rewards continue –especially for your students.

Kristal Doolin, a language arts teacher at Corbin Middle School in the Corbin Independent school district, was named the 2013 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 17, 2012. During her year-long reign, Doolin will write a monthly column for Kentucky Teacher that chronicles her experience as a classroom teacher. The column runs the second Thursday of each month.