Getting Started in North Dakota
When Janae and her family moved to Williston, North Dakota, they didn’t have a huge support system in place. They were new in town and didn’t have other family near. Janae knew she wanted to be available for her young boys more often than just nights and weekends. She made the decision to become a paraprofessional at her boys’ school. As most schools are these days, her local school was desperate for paraprofessionals, so securing the position was not difficult.
The paraprofessional schedule aligned with her boys’ school schedule and she enjoyed their afternoons together. Furthermore, Janae learned she had a real love for the classroom. It didn’t take long for her to realize she was meant to become a full time teacher in North Dakota.
Earning Her Teacher Certification
To become fully certified, Janae considered a Master’s in Education. Interestingly, she had just completed her Bachelor’s degree online during the COVID-19 shutdown. Because she just finished one degree, she knew she didn’t want to accrue a significant amount of debt. Still, she knew she would need her certification in order to run her own classroom. That’s when Janae learned about American Board’s teacher certification program.
She suspected American Board’s program was right for her because of its low cost and flexible schedule. She was already working full time as a paraprofessional at the time she enrolled with American Board. Between her work schedule and time with her boys, American Board’s flexibility was important to her. Janae says “university-based certification programs all required online evening courses. That wouldn’t work for me. I needed my evenings free to be around my kids, especially while they are young and want to be around me! American Board is so flexible and I really loved that. I could download the needed materials and study on work breaks.”
Additionally, Janae realized the fastest university program required a time commitment of 2 years. She says, “I just didn’t want to wait that long; I was ready to start teaching.” So Janae set herself a lofty goal. She enrolled in American Board’s program and decided she’d plan to complete the program in just a few months.
Continue reading below to learn how she did…!
Becoming a North Dakota Teacher: Tips
Janae enrolled in American Board’s North Dakota certification program just before Thanksgiving in 2020. Incredibly, she was fully certified by spring of 2021. So how did she do it? Janae explains “I set a goal of allowing myself two months to study per test. With two required tests, I planned to be done in 4 months.”
Not only did Janae complete the program within her timeline, she did so with remarkable test scores. When asked about her study habits, Janae explained “my plan was to read through all required material once, and then take the practice exam. That showed me what areas to focus on when going back through the material. I was very serious about my schedule, keeping study time confined to my breaks at work. I basically took weekends off from studying to be with family. That meant I had to make the most of the time when I was studying, so I really focused.”
Janae continued, “one piece of advice I have for new American Board candidates is to really think about the questions being asked. Particularly for the multiple choice portions of the exams, you have to understand why the answer works instead of just memorizing information. You should think about questions, figure out why they are being asked, and how they would impact your teaching.” Lastly, Janae explains, “when it comes to the PTK writing exam, practice, practice, practice. Don’t just assume you’ll pass.”
Janae secured a teaching position as soon as she earned her certificate. She pursued an elementary education certificate because of the high number of elementary schools in her surrounding neighborhoods, assuming this would increase her odds of finding an open position.
Once Janae accepted her new role as full-time elementary teacher, she was eager to get started. Her employing principal was able to pair her with an experienced colleague to meet the state’s mentor and clinical experience requirements. She is now teaching 6th grade and is a positive influence on her many students.
Janae concludes, “overall this was such a great experience. I feel so grateful because, truly, this has changed our lives. I’m older and I’ve got kids, and it has been the biggest blessing to start a new career without debt.”
American Board’s program is state-approved in North Dakota, and teachers across the state have used the program to launch their careers.