May 2012 Issue
April 16, 2012

Are you ready to improve your practice?

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: From left, Watervliet TA's Todd Birmingham and Greater Capital Region Teacher Center Director Carol Forman-Pemberton talk about how pursuing national board certification helps teachers develop leadership skills and take on new roles. Photo by Andrew Watson.

To encourage more educators to take the plunge, NYSUT is sponsoring a series of panel discussions and showing excerpts of Mitchell 20, a moving documentary about a group of Arizona teachers who commit to the National Board Certification process to improve their practice through reflection and collaboration.

Panelists at a showing at NYSUT headquarters in March urged those interested to follow the Mitchell 20 model and approach the certification process with the support of colleagues.

"We've found it's much better if you have a partner or small group in your building, or perhaps colleagues from your subject area," said Schenectady Federation of Teachers' Dan Brudos. He said his district, which is second in the state for the number of NBCTs, is extremely supportive by providing three writing days a year, technological support and a stipend for those who achieve.

Panelists suggested working on ways districts can weave NBCT activities into new professional development requirements under APPR (Annual Professsional Performance Review). They also highly recommended pursuing the NBCT's "Take One!" course as a strong professional development opportunity that gives teachers a taste of what the national board process is like.

"Working collaboratively with the National Board Council of NYS Network, we are using these panel discussions and clips from Mitchell 20 to inspire more applicants," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "We want to increase New York's cadre of more than 1,300 NBCTs."

NYSUT also co-sponsors national board awareness sessions and writing institutes. For more information, go to

The following national board panel discussions/Mitchell 20 screenings are scheduled throughout the state in May. Seating is limited.

May 10: 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Syracuse Regional Office. Call 315-431-4040 or email

May 16: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Mid-Hudson Regional Office in Kingston. Call 845-339-4450 or email or

May 21: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Utica Regional Office. Contact 315-768-0131 or email