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Fernanda Pierre, 8th Grade Algebra Teacher
Spring Branch Independent School District, Houston, TX

Deciding to Pursue National Board Certification

After teaching in the classroom for six years, Fernanda Pierre felt like her professional development had plateaued. She had already earned a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree and was on the fence about going back to school for her doctorate degree. She struggled to find mentors and coaches within her district that had the specific expertise to raise her abilities as a Math Instructor, but she knew she wanted more.

Fernanda had been very active in the Teach For America Alumni Group and was invited to attend an introductory meeting about National Board Certification by another alumni member. She had heard of National Board Certification, but there were no teachers in her district who were National Board Certified and, curious about the process, she decided to attend. It was at that meeting where Fernanda connected with a National Board Certified Teacher in Houston, learned about BloomBoard’s National Board Pre-Candidacy Support Program, and decided to begin her journey. 

Enlisting in Pre-Candidacy Support

During the meeting, Fernanda learned all about the financial incentives of earning National Board Certification (in Texas, the state provides districts an additional $3-9k per year, per National Board Certified teacher, 90% of which must go to teacher salary) and the recognition it brings. She also learned about the rigorous process it entails, including the fact that only 40 percent of candidates pass on their first attempt. This is what drew her to BloomBoard’s Pre-Candidacy Support Program. As part of the pre-candidacy program, Fernanda would get a dedicated National Board certified coach to help guide and support her along the way. That was not only comforting to her, but the main reason she enrolled. 

In addition to coaching, BloomBoard’s Pre-Candidacy Support Program included a set of competency-based micro-credentials designed to prepare first-time candidates with the skills needed to successfully earn their National Board Certification. Fernanda loved the micro-credential model, especially the fact that she would be getting feedback all along her journey, and was eager to get started on her path to National Board Certification. 

Beginning Her Journey

Fernanda’s original plan was to complete the Pre-Candidacy Support Program over the next year, but when COVID-19 hit, she found that she had extra time on her hands. Although she was teaching remotely, she still found ways to implement her learnings and collect the evidence she needed to complete her pre-candidacy micro-credentials. 

“It didn’t feel like busywork, it felt purposeful and I could see the alignment between the micro-credentials and the components of National Board Certification.” 

– Fernanda Pierre

Instead of taking a year to complete, Fernanda was able to earn all six pre-candidacy micro-credentials in six months. She found that the process was challenging, but she appreciated that the assignments were not redundant, and everything was self-paced. Most importantly, over time, she started seeing improvement in herself. 

“I feel like I could do 95% of the National Board certification process on my own now – this was not how I started though; this is a testament to the intentionality behind BloomBoard’s National Board Pre-candidacy Support Program.”

Fernanda has already reviewed all four components of the National Board Certification process and with the support and guidance of her coach, successfully completed Component 1. Her plan is to complete the remaining three components by next summer and become the first National Board Certified teacher in her district and pay it forward by helping other teachers earn their certification.