How I Became a Missouri Educator (and changed lives, including mine)
Missouri educator Haley Brueck is both an alumna of, and enthusiastic local representative for, the American Board. She has worked with the program for several years and continues to spread awareness to teachers-to-be across the state. She shares her experience in education below.
Twenty years ago and five years into my journalism career, I received a call from a former high school teacher.
“You ever think about teaching journalism?”
I hadn’t, but the timing of the call couldn’t be more perfect. I was about to start a family, I was not exactly satisfied with my current employment, and I wanted more time to golf.
The former teacher continued, “I’m leaving my position as a broadcast journalism teacher and think you’d be great.” I had a journalism degree from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), so I asked, “How does that allow me to teach?” The simple answer: It doesn’t. But in Florida, I could teach under a temporary certificate as I completed a 2-year teaching certification program. I did just that and received a vocational teaching certificate. I loved teaching. I decided to earn my Master’s in Education and then my National Board Certification – the gold standard in teacher certification.
But when I moved to St. Louis, Missouri to teach journalism and a college/career prep class, my Master’s of Education degree, my vocational education certificate, and my National Board certification were not sufficient.
I suddenly found myself in need of a Missouri state teaching certification or I’d be released from my current position as a Missouri educator. I researched my options and found the American Board – a Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) approved route to certification. All I needed to be eligible for the program was a bachelor’s degree with an overall GPA minimum of 2.5 (changing to 2.75 on August 31, 2017) in all courses taken from all institutions.
When you look at the other routes to certification it is by far the fastest and least expensive option as certification can be achieved in less than a year for under $2,000.
I now have my Missouri teaching certification from DESE and moonlight working for the American Board to help others find this excellent path to a career in education. It really is the best option for career-changers like me.
Missouri offers certification in the following subject areas:
- Elementary Education (1-6)
- Biology (9-12)
- Chemistry (9-12)
- English/Language Arts (5-9, 9-12)
- General Science (5-9, 9-12)
- Mathematics (5-9, 9-12)
- Physics (9-12)
- History (5-9, 9-12)
What if you want to teach a course that’s not listed above like Special Education or Speech & Debate? You can earn your American Board Certification in one of the above approved areas, then test into another subject area through the state. But, you need your American Board Certification first.
How simple is American Board certification? American Board provides you with the entire curriculum (including lessons, activities, and practice quizzes and tests) needed in order for you to pass the two exams necessary to receive your American Board Certification in Missouri. One exam is specific to the area you want to teach and the other is the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam, which prepares you to be an educator no matter which subject or grade level you teach.
Once you pass the two exams, you earn your American Board Certification. To apply for your Missouri Educator Certificate you will also need documentation of 60 hours in a public school or accredited nonpublic school classroom as a substitute and/or paraprofessional (90 hours for an elementary certificate). You will then apply to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for the Missouri Initial Professional Certificate (IPC). This is the professional certification school districts require you to have in order to interview and hire you. The following are the DESE requirements needed to apply for the IPC:
- Your original college transcripts
- A copy of your American Board certificate
- A copy of your American Board exam score reports for both the subject area and PTK exams
- Verification of your 60/90 contact hours in the classroom on the American Board Experience Log
- A criminal background/fingerprint check
- $100 Processing fee
The IPC is the certification everyone earns in Missouri after completing their teacher education certification program; it’s not specific to American Board. The IPC is a four-year license and during those four years educators participate in a two-year mentoring program, attend 30 hours of professional development, and get evaluated annually – much like all other educators. Upon successful completion of IPC requirements and after four years of teaching, you can then apply for the Career Continuous Certificate which is your renewable professional teaching certificate.
My advice? Change lives (including yours). Become a teacher.