Reich College of Education makes five-peat in National Board rankings


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.

Hollie Moore, Associate News Editor

App State’s Reich College of Education ranked first in the nation to produce National Board Certified teachers for the fifth consecutive year.

App State stays at No. 1 in the Top 50 alma maters as well as being included with the No. 1 NBCT state. North Carolina continues to have the most National Board Certified teachers, presenting 23,090 educators with the certification since 1987. This year, 121 alumni earned the certification, adding to the 2,178 alumni already certified.

Melba Spooner, dean of RCOE expressed pride and excitement in the RCOE’s National Board Certified alumni.

Karen Walker, an App State alumna and RCOE faculty member works with new teachers in the surrounding communities as a support coach. The National Commission of Teaching and America’s Future found that nearly half of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years; Walker supports teachers to keep them teaching. (Jesse Barber)

“The recognition is important because it affirms all the work and dedication and contributions of faculty, staff, alumni, and students,” Spooner wrote in a statement.

An NBCT credential comes from an accomplishment of five propositions: teachers committing to students and their subjects, monitoring students’ learning, learning from their experience and being constructive members of the learning community. 

“The certification is reflective practice,” said Sue Drake, an App State alumna with a thrice-renewed National Board Certification. “You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to know what you aren’t good at and know what you messed up on with a plan to make it better.”

App State implemented an opportunity for prospective NBCT teachers to connect with board-certified alumni. The program, NBCTApps, is organized on campus through RCOE.

 Betsy Rosenbalm, director of Public School Partnership, connecting App State with P-12 public schools in Northwest North Carolina, and NBCTApps explains that RCOE’s program produces teacher leaders who are encouraged to succeed.

 “When you are part of a winning team, you want to be a winner,” says Rosenbalm.

Terry Chvala, an App State almuna with a twice-renewed National Board Certification, says some teachers view mentoring peers as “giving back,” but she looks at NBCTApps differently. 

“I see it more as my civic duty to match the goal of the national board to get at least one certified teacher in every classroom. Why shouldn’t I be on that mission with them?” Chvala said.

Jim Brooks, an App State alumnus with a doctoral degree in education, has taught at West Wilkes High School for 36 years. He teaches English, Latin and the student yearbook class. Brooks is on the teacher certification board and helps bring up candidates for national board certification. (Jesse Barber)

RCOE also provides a student-teaching program to assist teachers in getting the experience they need for the classroom.

“When I student taught, it was magical to me because the moment I walked in, I knew I was in the right profession,” Chvala said. “They taught me the realities that a textbook never did. The theory to practice was seamless to me.”

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, who is in charge of the NBCTs, has added challenges to attaining the certification. North Carolina previously paid for the program, but now leaves the payment to each individual. Secondly, the NBPTS changed the certification to be active from 10 years to five years.

Spooner explained that this certification requires a teacher to analyze their own instructional practice, which tends to lead to a “strengths-based focus and positive classroom environment for learners.”

“Teachers who receive this certification tend to be very effective, engaging and impactful both in their classrooms and their schools,” Spooner wrote.

Challenges have also arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing teachers to find ways to work and teach differently

“During this year that has presented extraordinary challenges, our alumni have demonstrated their commitment to teaching excellence with resilience and distinction,” Spooner wrote.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed Melba Spooner’s quotes. The error has been corrected.