Open Your Eyes to National Board Certification

Terrace Park Elementary teacher, Elizabeth, wanted professional development that was accessible and rewarding.

Elizabeth Donnelly has been an educator at Terrace Park Elementary school in Edmonds School District for 20 years, before that, she taught for three years in Taiwan.

As a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, Donnelly has taken on leadership roles within her district and Washington Education Association-hosted cohorts. She continues to advocate for strong family engagement in education within her district and in her daily teaching.

Elizabeth Donnelly, National Board Certified Teacher

Why did you decide to become Nationally Board Certified?

I wanted some professional development that would be meaningful and more accessible. Two other colleagues at my school were doing it, so I thought I should go for it since we could support each other. I had heard so many great things about being certified that I had to do it.

What was the process like for you?

I felt all of the experiences, honestly. At times, it was stressful. I had two young kids. I didn’t do my reflections and writing until after I put my kids to bed. There were days of self-doubt. I had advice from colleagues saying “Don’t change grade levels, don’t take on more duties!” But with all the ups and downs, and the times I thought I didn’t know if I could finish, the cohort helped and the facilitator was encouraging.

I got lots of support, partly from my colleagues who helped me with technology related to the video portions of our certification partly from my district cohort.

What have you learned from this process, and what have you utilized in the classroom?

Listen to your kids! I mean really listening to them is so important. As much as I find TPEP stressful sometimes, our teacher evaluations and those standards aligned so well with NBCT and they had the same expected outcomes for students.

It’s about students having voice. It’s about building and maintaining a partnership with the students, the parents, and the community. It is about reflecting on my practice to best meet the needs of my students.

I learned when to scale back and not worry about what everyone else was doing. I continue to focus on my students’ needs.

What do you love about teaching in Washington?

I love the comradery and the commitment to students. Seeing the emails saying “we need to rally together and do this!” And then everyone immediately pulls together. The parents have this attitude, too, not just the teachers.

Elizabeth and her family.

What advice can you give other Washington educators?

It’s not “just another hoop.” Go for it. You can’t second guess yourself.

I still have moments when I feel unsure, but it’s a truly eye-opening and reflective experience.