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NBC Brings New Leadership Roles

Teacher Tom White Enjoys the Challenges

Tom White NEA member Tom White, a National Board Certified teacher, answers questions about the certification process and how it has affected his practice.

Tom White is a third and fourth grade teacher at Lynnwood Intermediate School in Lynnwood, Washington. He achieved National Board Certification in 2000 in middle childhood generalist and since then has become involved in the state National Board Certified Teacher community, adding to his growth as a professional educator. He currently facilitates a group of teachers seeking National Board Certification.

Here is how White described his experience with the National Board Certification process.


Why did you pursue National Board Certification?
I was at a place in my career where I was looking for an additional challenge, but I didn't want to go into administration. I saw National Board certification as a way to strengthen my skills as a teacher and deepen my understanding of what contributes to student learning.

What was the process like for you?   What was the most challenging aspect?  The most surprising?
It was intense. It took a lot more time than I thought it would take. While completing the portfolio, I was challenged to think more deeply than ever about what I do as a teacher, why I do it, and how it affects student learning. I was a competent teacher before I started, but I became a much more reflective teacher as a result of the process. The most surprising result of completing my certification was the extent to which I have become involved in teacher leadership activities. Since certifying, I have seen that my role as a teacher extends beyond the classroom. I have become involved in my local and state education association, assisted other National Board candidates, and most recently, accepted a position on the NCATE Board of Examiners.

Would you say that your teaching practice was affected by going through the National Board Certification process?   If so, how, exactly?
I have become far more reflective. I look at what I do in terms of how it affects student learning to a far greater degree than I did before certifying. I'm also more selective when choosing curriculum and learning activities, which I believe has led to greater student achievement.

What do you think the Association's role is with respect to NBC?
I am extremely proud that the Association has supported the National Board since it began nearly twenty years ago. I think the Association's support represents a strong commitment to meaningful professional development, effective teaching, and student learning. I think the Association needs to continue to support candidates who are pursuing certification and to recognize the efforts and commitment of those who complete the process. I also think the Association should recruit National Board Certified Teachers to positions of leadership at the local, state, and national level, drawing upon their classroom expertise and leadership skills.

What do you say to other teachers in Washington when they tell you they are considering National Board Certification?
I make sure they know what they're getting into! I also make sure they realize what an enormous lift the experience will be to their career and how much it will improve their ability to teach. I also strongly encourage them to seek support from a facilitated cohort group. The Washington Education Association has really taken the lead in our state, supporting candidates in a variety of ways.

Tom White is a third and fourth grade teacher at Lynnwood Intermediate School in Lynnwood, Washington. He regularly mentors new teachers in his building and also works with experienced teachers who seek his help. He is an outspoken advocate of education and the Association and enjoys leadership roles in both.

Other Profiles of National Board Certified Teachers

» NBC: An Opportunity to Give Back to the Community -- Read about NBC Teacher Julie Hutcheson-Downwind. (Minnesota) 

» A Great Adventure and the Chance of a Lifetime -- Find out more about NBC teacher Katherine Wright Knight. (Arkansas)

» More Meaningful Than Master's Degree Work -- Read about National Board Certified teacher Barbara Grogg. (Delaware)

» Certification Was Pivotal Point in Her Career -- Find out more about National Board Certified teacher Linda Edwards. (Colorado)

» Profiles in National Board Certification -- Meet Rhonda Hale -- Teacher, mentor, and local prez. (Kentucky)