App State ranks first for the third year in a row of National Board Certified alumni


Paola Bula

Reich College of Education, where future student teachers take their classes. Student teaching has changed at the university, as future teachers now watch videos instead of interacting with children.

Emily Broyles, Reporter

App State was founded as a teaching college in 1899. It’s still recognized as one of the top alma maters in the nation for education 120 years later.

For the third consecutive year, App State has ranked first in the U.S. for the number of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certified alumni, topping the list with 2,090 certified Mountaineers. Eight other North Carolina universities were among the Top 50 Alma Maters, making North Carolina the top state in the certification.

The National Board Certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond a state license, according to the National Education Association. A person must be a teacher for at least three years to undergo certification, which then takes an extra one to three years. A financial incentive is also included.

“Our involvement really is just in preparing the best quality educators that we can,” Reich College of Education communications liaison Heather Brandon said. “We’re trying to get them out into classrooms early and often.”

After declaring their major, education majors apply to RCOE. RCOE provides professional development opportunities throughout a student’s study, along with a beginning teacher support program and partnerships with surrounding public schools that give the student resources while in the field.

“They’re going to go out and be great advocates for education in their communities, help sustain education and hopefully inspire the next generation of Appalachian educators,” Brandon said about current education majors.

Brandon Moore, a senior secondary English education major and member of Appalachian Community of Education Scholars, hopes to fulfill not only the National Board Certification, but to inspire the next generation of students and educators.

“I care a lot about our youth of our country and just seeing them become the best that they can be and to our society,” Moore said.

Moore said he finds himself inspired by App State alum’s top-tier performance in the teaching field, along with having the resource of National Board certified professors.

“Just being able to know that Appalachian State has a role in producing teachers who even go on to take that extra step to become certified in National Board is just amazing,” Moore said. “As a future educator myself, I think that it’s very encouraging for me.”

Moore said mentorship in RCOE creates familiarity between students and professors, which instills confidence after graduation.

“If you’re working on your National Boards and you need help, you can come back, even if you’re teaching across the state,” Moore said. “Everybody on campus is just excited to see everybody else succeed.”

Lisa Gross, program director for elementary education, said students in the field are engaged constantly in the classroom­—learning and teaching. She said she believes this contributes to the number of NBCTs that have graduated from App State.

“They’re motivated. They want to be in the classrooms,” Gross said. “I think one of the advantages of our program in the college is that our students do spend extensive time in the field.”

Gross, who prepares students for student teaching, knows many former students who have taken the step for a National Board Certification and enjoys watching them embark on their teaching journeys.

“It’s just exciting to see the full cycle,” Gross said. “That’s the whole purpose of our job in this college, is to have that support for them and hope they’re successful.”