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American Board Focuses on Community Development

(March 14) – Recently, the American Board’s Chief Operating Officer, Albert Chen, sat down to explain the organization’s new motto: “Your Community. Your Teachers.” Below are his thoughts on how the American Board helps to build communities by recruiting quality teachers.

A mission statement is meant to reflect the specific, unique goals of an organization, and provide the means and the drive to achieve those goals. It needs to define the niche. So what is unique about the American Board that sets it apart from other certification programs?

In its early days, the American Board, then know as ABCTE’s mission statement was as follows:

“ABCTE recruits, prepares, certifies, and supports dedicated professionals to improve student achievement through quality teaching.”

The problem with this mission was that any teacher certification program could say the same thing; every program believes in student achievement through quality teaching. Not having a defined specific mission meant that, though the intents were good, there was no drive to achieve anything special. Having great teachers is not a mission, but simply a core belief.

So, when we stood back and looked at what we really did, we realized two things: We provide a route to licensure for career changers that takes advantage of their skills, experiences, professionalism, and maturity; and that this was still rather generic.

But, what really sets us apart is our 85% retention rate (versus the 50% national average). Our candidates are, on average, 39 years old. Most of them are already invested in the community; owning houses, having kids, etc. When they begin teaching, they will be more likely to remain in the community than someone who was brought in just for the job.

This is what led us to our current mission: We can build and rebuild communities one teacher at a time by finding teachers from within the community and giving them a route to teacher certification that is faster, cheaper, and easier than the traditional paths. Or, in short: “Your Teachers. Your Community.” The American Board is committed to building communities one teacher at a time. ┬áThis is a goal we can get behind, a mission we can achieve.