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Cathryn Taylor of Eastside Middle School Earns National Board Certification

Cathryn Taylor of Eastside Middle School

Candidates checking to see if they earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards knew the exact time of day to log onto their computer account to learn the results.

Saturday at midnight.

“I had every intention of staying up all night,” said Eastside Middle School Navigators team sixth and seventh grade mathematics teacher Cathryn Taylor. “However, I had to help coach an academic meet on Saturday morning and went to bed early.”

Taylor confided she was nervous about the results and even had a dream that she did not pass.

“When I woke up, I thought I had not passed because my dream felt so real,” she said. “I immediately logged into my computer to ‘double check’ and I saw the fireworks indicating that I had passed.”

Taylor is now National Board Certified in Mathematics/Early Adolescence.

“I am very thrilled and relieved,” she said. “I moved last week, so the chaos of moving kept me distracted leading up to the score release. After finding out, I went straight to the academic meet and didn’t have time for the news to set in. I think that the excitement hit me on Monday when I got to school and my coworkers celebrated my success.”  

Taylor’s fiancée actually contacted her at 1:00 a.m. so she could check her status but she decided against it.

“I knew the news (good or bad) would keep me up for the rest of the night,” she said. “I would either be too excited or too upset to go back to sleep. So, when I found out, I woke him up to celebrate at 5:30 a.m. Then I notified my colleagues who are already National Board Certified that helped me through this process. They helped answer questions and read through my components to provide feedback and guidance.”

Pursuing National Board Certification is a challenge requiring an enormous investment of time above and beyond a teacher’s regular duties.

Taylor said she chose to apply because it was a cheaper route to get her Rank 1 compared to getting a second Master’s degree and the pay raise is a huge incentive for pursuing National Boards.

This is Taylor’s seventh year at Eastside. She is originally from Calhoun, KY but has resided in Louisville, KY for 11 years.

She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Louisville as well as a Technology Endorsement from U of L. Taylor has had the opportunity to study/teach abroad in 7 different countries.

Taylor said the most challenging aspect of working on national certification was understanding what was expected.

“The directions for each component were very vague and could be interpreted multiple ways,” she said.

In addition, Taylor said it was a challenge to not have district provided support through this process.

“I had to pay for support and find people outside of the district to help me through this process,” she said.

Taylor said she was fortunate to have coworkers help her stay motivated.

“I also had a friend from a different district working on a component and helped me stay focused with scheduling mandatory ‘work days’ to help complete the work needed for National Boards,” she said. “She had district support and was able to provide me with information that I did not receive that helped me be successful.”

All National Board Certified teachers experience self-reflection through the many steps of the process and Taylor agreed it made her more introspective.

“I am more adamant about using data to drive my instruction and incorporating student input in grading, lessons, assessments, etc.,” she said.

She encourages colleagues to apply if they are willing to change and try new things in their classroom.

“I don’t think one can go through this process without changing your pedagogy because it really makes you research what is best for your students. My thinking on my own practice changed during this process and I believe that makes me a better teacher for my students,” she said.

The best advice Taylor said she received was to join the National Boards Facebook group so this would be the advice she would give candidates going through the process.

“The Facebook group is a community of teachers going through the process as well as those who have certified,” she affirmed. “I could easily find answers to my questions, bounce ideas around with other teachers, and provide advice for other candidates. This process can be very confusing and the Facebook group was the best resource for me.”

Taylor said she chose the career of education due to a lifelong love of school but, more importantly, she has always loved math.

“I knew I wanted a career related to math but wasn’t sure what route to take, so I took a variety of classes my freshman year of college,” she explained. “I really enjoyed my education class and that is how I decided to pursue teaching.”

She originally wanted to teach Calculus because, “I am crazy and think Calculus is so much fun, but when I stepped into a middle school classroom to observe, I knew this is the age range I needed to teach instead. Middle school is a tough time for kids and I wanted to be an advocate and mentor to middle schoolers like my teachers did for me when I was in school.”

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