EMPORIA — Monica Dreiling recently found out she achieved the highest credential available to American educators as a National Board Certified Teacher through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Dreiling is a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Hays USD 489.

A decade ago, Dreiling went through the challenging year-long process of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. A year ago, she chose to attempt to renew her certificate as the life of her original 10-year certificate was to expire.

Dreiling was among the 23 educators from across the state who went through the challenging process of renewing their certificates in 2016-17. In late October, they were informed their work had measured up again.

Emporia State’s Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification maintains a 100-percent renewal rate with candidates achieving recertification on their first attempt. This is the 12th consecutive year the center’s renewal rate has reached 100 percent.

There are 25 certificate areas educators can work for — ranging in content from art to career and technical education to world languages — and available at different grade levels including early childhood, middle childhood, early adolescence and young adulthood. Dreiling earned her certification in exceptional needs specialist/early childhood through young adulthood.

“This process of board certification is similar to how a doctor becomes certified in a special area,” said Alvin Peters, director of Emporia State University’s program which assists teachers working toward national certification. “This is voluntary — no state, school district or program requires they go through this process.”

While state licensing systems set the basic requirements to teach in each state, NBCTs have demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices. National certification takes from one to three years to complete.

The process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award.

“National Board certification is a different kind of honor,” Peters said. “Teachers must submit extensive documentation of their instruction, including videos of their students at work in the classroom.”