nbct elmquist schreiner webAfter a rigorous, performance-based, peer-review process, Park Center Senior High educators Kristi Elmquist and Sara Schreiner recently achieved the status of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), the highest national credential for teachers in the United States.

Offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Elmquist and Schreiner join 459 other Minnesota teachers who are currently certified as NBCTs. In Osseo Area Schools, three additional staff members currently hold this status: Melissa Engel, sixth-grade teacher at Maple Grove Middle School; Donna Ohlgren, library media specialist at Rush Creek Elementary; and Pamela Kohlhepp, special education teacher at Cedar Island Elementary. Teachers wishing to maintain their status as NBCTs must complete specific recertification requirements every five years.

Elmquist, a social studies teacher, and Schreiner, a Spanish teacher, began the three-year initial certification process in September 2014. During that time, they devoted more than 15 hours of work per month outside of the classroom to complete written assignments, portfolio reflections, outreach to students and families, and more.

“This [NBCT certification] was an incredible process that allowed me to reflect on my teaching,” Schreiner said. “I have learned so much, specifically about why I do what I do. It’s truly some of the best professional development I’ve ever done.”

Throughout the past 27 years, Schreiner has come full circle. Her career in education began at Park Center in 1991 during her student teaching assignment. After holding jobs in the private sector and at other schools, she’s happy to be back where it all began.

“The biggest takeaway from this certification process for me is that teaching is a craft and it is a journey—there’s always growth,” added Schreiner. “There’s no finish line. There’s always something to improve upon.”

For Elmquist, the opportunities for self-reflection were some of the most impactful parts of the NBCT process.

"One question that was revisited over and over in this process was 'Why do you make the instructional decisions that you do?'" she said. "That really impacts me daily because I don't really do anything now without a clear purpose tied to student learning. I am way more reflective about my lessons and feel like I have the tools to adjust and adapt to improve what I do."

Established in 1987, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an independent, nonprofit organization that aims to advance accomplished teaching for all students.

“I’m so proud to celebrate our new National Board Certified Teachers,” said Peggy Brookins, NBCT, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. “This accomplishment is reason to celebrate the impact Board-certified teachers have on millions of students nationwide and on the teaching profession at-large.”

PHOTO: Park Center Senior High's Kristi Elmquist (left) and Sara Schreiner (right) earned the distinction of National Board Certified Teachers in December. Says Schreiner: "It's truly some of the best professional development I've ever done."