On Thursday, April 22, the National Board Resource Center hosted its first-ever virtual recognition ceremony to honor and applaud all Illinois teachers who achieved or renewed their National Board certification in 2020, featuring a keynote address by Gov. J. B. Pritzker.

The ceremony was held to recognize the state of Illinois’ Class of 2020 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). The virtual ceremony included guest speakers and a presentation of all 164 newly named and 137 renewed NBCTs. Pritzker and Dr. Carmen Ayala, state superintendent of education, each provided a message for the virtual recognition ceremony. 

In his address, Pritzker praised the NBCTs being honored.

“Your tremendous achievement means you’re setting a higher standard for all teachers and providing expert instruction for our students,” Pritzker said. “It also further cements Illinois as a national leader in providing a quality education to our young learners.”

The governor went on to thank all NBCTs for their perseverance during these difficult times.

“Throughout this pandemic, it’s our teachers who have continued to go above and beyond,” he said. “And, those incredible efforts most certainly deserve our recognition. I take great pride in the fact that we have such devoted, creative, and passionate educators from every corner of our state.”

Ayala, a former teacher herself, mentioned how extraordinary the past year has been for educators.

“And, somehow, in the midst of this uniquely challenging time, all of you opted to double-down on your commitment to teaching by completing the requirements for National Board Certification,” Ayala said. “You demonstrate how a teaching career can truly represent the pinnacle of innovation, leadership, and intellectual growth. You are the best of our field, and I encourage you to be ambassadors of the profession to your students and other people in your lives.”

Ayala also thanked the families and loved ones of Illinois teachers, acknowledging that the time, energy, and focus required for this achievement represent a team effort on some level. She went on to say how happy she is for the students of Illinois who need, more than ever, compassionate role models with a thirst for knowledge.

Among others who sent messages of encouragement and congratulations were House Leader Jim Durkin; Sen. Jason Barickman; Rep. Will Davis; Rep. Katie Stewart; President of the Illinois Education Association Kathi Griffin; and President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers Dan Montgomery.

“We know how much hard work and self-reflection are needed to become a National Board Certified Teacher, and that’s why it’s such a respected program and well-earned certification,” Griffin’s message said. “The students of NBCTs benefit from all that their teachers learn. Schools and the IEA turn to NBCTs to lead teams and projects because we know that a NBCT is a skilled, dedicated practitioner highly trained and willing to go the extra mile for their students and the education profession.  Congratulations to all the newly minted NBCTs on your certification!”

Davis reflected on a personal connection with NBCTs in his message.

“I would like to congratulate the educators who have achieved the status of a National Board Certified Teacher,” Davis’ message read. “I applaud your commitment to your profession and your dedication to achieve this high standard. I am confident that our children will undoubtedly benefit from your knowledge and expertise. I owe a tremendous thank you to my first grade teacher, Mrs. Ann Stole, NBCT.”