Great Falls teachers 'take one'


With support from MEA-MFT and its Montana Professional Teaching Foundation, 18 Great Falls teachers are pioneering a new approach to National Board Certification. The approach is called “Take One.”

National Board Certification (NBC) is the highest level of certification a U.S. teacher can achieve. The NBC process typically involves four rigorous modules. But in the “Take One’ experiment, these Great Falls teachers will tackle just one module at a time.

“The idea is to give people a taste of the NBC process and get them interested in becoming fully certified,” said MEA-MFT Public Policy Director Marco Ferro.

The 18 teachers meet every other Saturday, facilitated by MEA-MFT member Char Bunker. Bunker is one of six MEA-MFT members who serve as facilitators, helping teachers navigate the complex NBC process.

Teachers in the Take One project can bank their scores on the one module for up to two years if they want to use these scores toward full National Board Certification.

“We’ve targeted schools with a high number of low income students,” Ferro continued.

“The National Board wants to increase the number of Board Certified teachers who serve low-income students. That’s because research shows student achievement rises dramatically when you pair Board Certified teachers with low income students. It’s a good match.”

The whole idea behind National Board Certification is to focus professional development on teachers’ practice, Ferro explained. “National Board standards are developed by practicing teachers, for practicing teachers,” he said. “The National Board itself is made up primarily of practicing teachers.”

MEA-MFT’s two
national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) played key roles in creating the National Board.

Many MEA-MFT local k-12 teacher unions have bargained stipends for National Board Certified teachers, up to $2,000 per year for the life of the certification. And thanks to MEA-MFT’s lobbying efforts, the State of Montana also pays a one-time-only stipend of $3,000 for NBC teachers.

“A big part of MEA-MFT’s mission is to promote great teaching,” said Ferro. “That includes quality, sustainable professional development for teachers—not fly-by-night, one-shot-only, drive-by professional development.”

To learn more, visit the National Board site at Or contact Marco Ferro at

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