Professional Learning

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?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Cassidy Reinken

Cassidy Reinken, an art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys helping students solve problems and reach their potential.

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