José M. Torres
  Erin Roche
  Carol O’Connell

José M. Torres, Ph.D., Area Instruction Officer (AIO)

José is the Area Instruction Officer for Area 14 in the Chicago Public Schools. He previously worked in districts in Maryland and California that supported National Board Certification.

“I am betting on National Board Certification to improve dramatically the achievement levels of my Area. We have set an ambitious goal.”

I believe that National Board Certification (NBC) raises the level of professionalism among teachers and, as a result, students will be exposed to more powerful learning opportunities.

This year, thanks to The Chicago Public Education Fund, we co-sponsored a reception to garner interest. We had approximately 60 staff members from 15 schools at the reception. This resulted in more than 30 teachers signing up to pursue National Board Certification this year. As a comparison, we currently have only five National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTS) in Area 14.

  Fast Facts:
Area 14 consists of 26 schools and 14,500 students
Area 14 currently has five NBCTs
Notable accomplishment: at an event to garner interest for NBC, 30 teachers of the 60 staff members that attended signed up to become candidates

I believe that every member of this community shares the responsibility for successful schools. The work to become an NBCT is hard, but a team of people going through the same experience will help. There are cohorts to join that make this process a more fulfilling experience.

If I had to pick one word to describe National Board Certification it would be powerful!

To speak to José, e-mail him at

back to top »
Erin Roche, Principal & National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT)
Erin is the Principal at Ravenswood Elementary

“The National Board Certification Program is extremely rigorous. Not one candidate can get away with being sloppy, which is why National Board Certification is such a prestigious honor.”

National Board Certification (NBC) probes new and important questions about teaching and the practice of teaching, asking teachers, for example, “How do I know that my students are really learning?” It really is an enlightening experience.

It is about assessment and understanding how to gauge what students are absorbing. One of the tools National Board Certification uses to teach candidates is videotaping the classroom. Watching a video of oneself teaching is a motivational method to change bad habits and assess one’s skills.

  Fast Facts:
Principal of Ravenswood for three years.
Ravenswood has three NBCTs, including himself
Biggest reward of NBC: Appreciating the student learning process

Through National Board Certification, I began to truly appreciate the process of writing about and reflecting on my teaching techniques. And now as a principal, I understand and appreciate the level of commitment to students and the teaching profession that National Board Certification can help fuel in my staff. National Board Certified Teachers are a tremendous asset to my team and in helping me lead my school. I want more of them.

To speak to Erin about his NBC experience, e-mail him at

back to top »
Carol O’Connell, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT)
Carol O’Connell is a Lead Literacy teacher at Talcott Fine Art & Museum Academy

“If I had to choose one word to describe the process of National Board Certification, it would be enlightenment.”

Just as summer vacation was about to begin in 1999, I received (along with thousands of other CPS teachers as well as teachers across the state of Illinois) a package containing information about a program referred to as National Board Certification (NBC). A close colleague/teaching partner was quite intrigued and suggested we complete the application and pursue it. I, on the other hand, was a bit skeptical. Who, or what, was National Board? How would they evaluate me as a teacher? What would it mean to be National Board Certified? Needless to say, I did not complete the paperwork; my colleague did, and in November 2000, she achieved National Board Certification. Now, I was intrigued. I made the decision to pursue certification after witnessing her achievement.The National Board Certification process has made me more analytical in regards to my teaching. Much more thought goes into analyzing assessments, planning lessons, and choosing appropriate resources and activities.

  Fast Facts:
14 years teaching; 11 years in CPS
I made the decision to pursue NBC after witnessing a friend’s achievement
Biggest reward of NBC: Watching students challenge other students to think more critically

Also, I probe my students even more in order to figure out how they think – and use that information to inform instruction. I am helping my students to do the same – so they too can monitor their own learning. For example, one reluctant reader, Ryan, came to understand that reading involved thinking, which involved talking (first with himself, then with others) – which he loved to do. It was Ryan’s thinking and talking about text that helped his classmates to think more critically. He loved to challenge himself and others when discussing text.

The National Board Certification process really helped me dig deeper into my practice. I believe it has been to the benefit of Ryan and my other students, as much as it has been a benefit to me.

To contact Carol about her NBC experience, e-mail/call her at or (773) 534-7130.

back to top »
Useful Links

Latest News and Events:

2007 National Board Certification Teacher Celebration By invitation only
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
5:00pm to 7:00pm
The Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park »

The Fund makes investment in first-of-its-kind joint master’s degree/NBC program »

Chicago Tribune: "City's master teachers list grows by 171" »

Southwest News-Herald: "Education Reform, Says Daley; Visits Carroll-Rosenwald School to Honor Certified Teachers »

CPS: "All-Time High of 171 CPS Teachers Earn National Board Certification" »

The Fund: "Chicago Neighborhood Schools Bolstered by New National Board Certified Teachers" »

Research on National Board Certification

Chicago »

National »

Facts & Info
NBC standards and portfolio instructions »

NBCTs in CPS »

APapers Writing Service »