What it Really Takes to Become a National Board Certified Art Teacher


When I started my journey towards national board certification in the fall of 2012, I had no idea how much my personal and professional life would change throughout the process. Personally, my husband and I purchased a new home, which we unexpectedly needed to remodel and found out we were expecting our second child. Professionally, I was teaching middle school art, teaching after school art classes, writing and editing my written National Board entries, studying for the National Board assessments, and writing for AOE. This was all in additional to trying to be the best mom and wife I could be. Looking back, I think, “It wasn’t that bad.”

But then I think, sometimes the journey was that bad. It was difficult, the most difficult professional development I’ve participated in. (It was also the most relevant and rewarding.)  I spent hours away from my family writing and studying. I attended support classes. I met with colleagues also seeking certification. I woke up at 4:30am, drove four hours to Chicago to study at the Art Institute of Chicago for six hours and then drove home, two Saturdays in a row. I spent my weekends writing and editing at school. I must have edited my written entries over 30 times. Just when I thought I was finished, I found something I wanted, or needed, to change.

Finally, I submitted my written entries on May 31st, 2013 and took my assessments on June 7th, 2013. Afterwards, I began another part of my journey, the wait. As scores are generally released around Thanksgiving, but could be released anytime up until December 31st, I naturally became a little anxious and excited as the holiday approached. I learned that the scores would be released on Saturday, November 23rd. Finally, the wait was almost over.

I remember Friday, November 22nd like it was yesterday. I attempted to log onto the webpage multiple times just to see if they had released the scores early. No luck. I contemplating staying up until midnight, but I knew my sleep was very important, especially with a newborn at home.

I slept surprisingly well until 4:00 am. I immediately grabbed my cell phone and logged into the NBCT webpage. I was about to click on the “scores tab” when my NBCT home screen announced, “Congratulations, you’re a National Board Certified Teacher.” I held back my urge to shriek with excitement.  Instead, I gasped out loud which woke my husband, who in a panicked voice asked me what was wrong. I replied, “I PASSED!” After getting the news, I was too excited to sleep, so I immediately contacted the people closest to me to thank them for giving me unconditional love and support and continually encouraging me and keeping me sane.

Even though the journey was that bad at times, it was worth every second. Not just because I passed, but because I’m a better teacher because of the journey.

I showed extreme dedication to my profession. I reflected on student learning until I was blue in the face. I focused on what I wanted my students to learn, how I would know if they learned it, what I would do if they didn’t, and what I would do when they did. I created deeper connections with my students. I personalized learning. I documented and passed. I retaught. I designed lessons to push my students. I cried. I smiled. I laughed. I learned. I changed my teaching philosophy. I found my voice in education. I gained confidence. I became a better teacher.

Most of all, I increased student engagement and learning more than I ever had before. I did all of this, regardless of my passing score.
I took a chance and signed up for a challenge.

I highly encourage you to take a chance and sign up for the challenge of National Board Certification. At times it might feel that bad, but in the end, all the good outweighs the bad.

If you would like to learn more about National Board Certification click here, please visit the National Board Certification Website.

You can even find specific information about financial support available in your state.

I would love to answer any questions you have about National Board Certification. What questions do you have about the process?

Have you ever felt similarly about something in your professional life?

Cassidy Reinken


This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • We are very proud of you, Cassidy, and your accomplishments! Thank you for sharing the process with us. It’s very inspiring and we are lucky to have you on the AOE team!

    • thecolorwheel

      Thank you for all your support Jessica. I’m honored to be a part of the AOE team!

  • artprojectgirl

    Congratulations!!! You are amazing! I have no idea how you do it! But, from what I’ve read on AOE I had no doubts that you would do it! I had to give up a lot while getting my masters and having a baby, including, pairing down my friendships, writing on my blog, writing for AOE and my after school green team club. You deserve this amazing honor and all of the great things that will come from it. And the fact that you were able to juggle every other responsibility (from someone who’s been there) is amazing!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, it truly means a lot. Aren’t the sacrifices we make for our children completely worth it? Congrats on your masters and baby!

  • Julz Suder

    Just what I needed to read tonight as I am editing my entries (again). What a process!

  • Jessica Bonilla

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your expierence. It came at a good time for me as my National Board packet is due in 13 days and I’m so stressed about it. I releated you in this article as it was the most stressful year but most rewarding. Thanks for the tips. Congratulations!

    • You’re welcome Jessica! It’s nice to know we’re not alone.
      Just curious, what do you mean by your packet is due? Are you submitting electronically?

  • CMcDill

    Hey! I would love to get your input on some things as I try and finish up some of my phases for my national boards. Is there anyway I could have your email address?
    Thanks so much!

    • thecolorwheel
      • CMcDill

        I’ve emailed you some information but haven’t heard back. I wanted to make sure you received it ok?

        • Hi! Yes, I received it, have been working on a response to you. Takes some time to go over your questions. Keep your eye out for a response soon.

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  • Anne Gardner

    Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience! :) Anne

  • Jeremy Dumkrieger

    Question? What is the point of this? National Certification? Teaching anywhere in the country? What else?

    • Stephanie Richison

      Teachers want to get nationally certified so they can make more money.

  • carrie

    I am just beginning this process to be National Board certified. I am wondering about what lesson to use or would be the best type to use for literacy? Do you have any advice for directions to go when it comes to video taping an inquiry based literacy activity?

  • Christy Matthews

    I am currently completing my National Boards. I completed all 4 components last year but this past December I got my score report telling me I missed it by 11 points. I just finished retaking Component 3 and I have been studying and take my Component 1 test again tomorrow. It is very stressful but has been very rewarding. I feel proud of myself and what I have accomplished already. I was devastated when I did not passed but then I took a deep breath and decided to try again. I know this time around I will pass (at least I hope so) and if for some reason I don’t I know that I did my best and that is reward enough.