Today is December 18, 2018.

it’s NBCT balloon day in Arizona! 

It’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor for my son. 

Do these events have anything in common?

I like to think they do.

National Board Certification is the “gold standard” for the teaching profession. Achieving certification requires a teacher to present evidence of a specific set of skills, knowledge, and dispositions through seven standards and five core propositions of accomplished teaching. This evidence is presented through a series of 4 components that require written and video presentations. The teacher presents this evidence to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The rank of Eagle is the pinnacle of achievement in the Boy Scouts of America. Achieving the Eagle rank requires a scout to provide evidence of a specific set of skills, knowledge, and dispositions through twelve scout laws and five qualities of an Eagle. This evidence is presented through earning merit badges, leadership responsibilities, and community service. The scout presents this evidence to a review board who scores it through the National Standards for Eagle Scouts.

As I pursued National Board certification, I received support from many sources. Teachers who were already NBCT’s shed light on my path. My family stepped in and helped with schedules, transportation, and the logistics of life. Many people cheered me on, listened to my frustration, excitement, and dried my tears.

In my son’s path to Eagle, he received support from many sources. Eagle scouts who had completed the journey shed light on his path. As his family, we stepped in to help with schedules, transportations, and the logistics of life. He had a village of people to cheer him on, listen to his frustrations, excitement and dry tears.

The journey to National Board certification started long before I registered with NBPTS. I earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. I sought further training to refine teaching skills and collaborated with colleagues and the community to improve student outcomes. I learned to reflect on lessons, strategies, classroom climate, childhood development, outside influences and how they impacted the learning that took place for my students. I was developing a specifics set of skills and knowledge along with a disposition to become a National Board Certified Teacher.

My son’s journey to Eagle started long before he joined the Boy Scouts of America. His grandfather was an Eagle Scout who lived the scout law and exhibited the qualities of an Eagle in his daily life. He passed that on to my son. I watched the qualities of honor, loyalty, courage, cheer, and service develop as my son welcomed his sister into our family, built friendships, served in the food pantry, packed meals for people in Honduras, worked as a member of an award-winning marching band and served and learned through active participation in his scout troop. He developed a specific set of skills and knowledge along with a disposition that has guided him on the path to earning the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America.

As an NBCT, I continue to learn and strengthen the profession of teaching. I am intentional about being part of communities of teachers who are solutions-minded, positive, and persevere to do what is best for the students in their classrooms. I lead professional development in my school, district, and state. I coach National Board candidates and pass on the light that was shed on my path by other NBCT’s.

Many Eagle Scouts are leaders in their communities and professions. They serve in civic organizations, support charities, and continue to improve the quality of their homes and communities. They are scoutmasters, merit badge counselors, and mentor future Eagle scouts.

So yes, National Board Certification and the Rank of Eagle do have a lot in common. Both require perseverance, focus, and support. Both are titles held by a select group of people and bring recognition of a specific set of knowledge, skills, and disposition to mind when attached to a person. Both are a pinnacle on a journey rather than an end in themselves.

I won’t be delivering balloons to NBCT’s today.

I will be putting the final touches on a Court of Honor to recognize the newest Eagle Scout in BSA Troop 66.

I consider both to be amazing accomplishments worthy of sharing a day.

To learn more about National Board Certification visit To learn more about Boy Scouts and the rank of Eagle visit


Susan Collins

I began my teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. I served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. I stepped out of working full time in the classroom for 9 years when my children were very young but never left teaching. I set up an early childhood music studio and taught music for children ages birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). I moved to in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where I teach k-5 general music.

I achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016 and began my relationship with the Arizona K12 Center for Professional Development. I have served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. I am passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education provided by passionate and qualified educators.

When I am not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, I am outdoors with my teenage children. I love hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. I can usually be found off the grid pondering my next writing piece!

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