Teachers from USD 248 Great Bend and USD 489 Hays are among the more than 3,900 teachers nationwide who achieved the highest professional credentials they can earn — they attained first-time certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2018.

Traci Miller, from USD 248, and Kristy Oborny, from USD 489, are now national board certified teachers.

Miller teaches second grade at Riley Elementary School in Great Bend and earned her certification in exceptional needs specialist/early childhood through young adulthood.

Oborny teaches fourth grade and is the librarian for O'Loughlin Elementary in Hays and earned her certification in literacy: reading-language arts/early and middle childhood.

National board certification is recognized nationwide as a model for identifying accomplished teaching practice. Teachers were notified in December if they achieved the certification.

“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 is demanding them to go through this process and each teacher can take from one to three years to complete the process.”

Before certification, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, a valid state teaching license and three years experience in the classroom. Miller is the lone national board certified teacher in USD 248 Great Bend. USD 489 Hays now has 12 with the addition of Oborny.

The national board process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award. Peters adds, “National Board certification is a different kind of honor. Teachers must submit extensive documentation of their instruction, including videos of their students at work in the classroom.”

The accomplishment of national board certification benefits the teachers, the schools they work in, and studies have shown NBCTs improve student learning. The program hosted at ESU, Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification, has an 80% initial certification rate over the past nine years. This is nearly twice the national initial certification rate of 40%.

The national board standards were created by teachers. The standards represent a consensus for 25 certificate areas in 16 disciplines, including art, English, mathematics, science, world languages, school education and physical education, from pre-kindergarten through high school and six student development levels from early childhood through adolescence.

Kansas currently has a total of 449 national board certified teachers. To date, more than 122,000 teachers in all 50 states are NBCTs.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was launched in 1987. A decade of research shows board-certified teachers positively impact student learning. The goal is to create standards for high-quality teaching and to professionalize teaching through licensure, following the lead of fields like medicine, engineering, and architecture. More information about ESU’s program can be found at www.emporia.edu/teach/great-plains/.