A dozen Beaufort County School District teachers have earned National Board certification this year, bringing the district's total to 139.
Now, about 9 percent of the district's teachers have achieved what the S.C. Department of Education has called "the highest credential available in the teaching profession."
The process can take one to three years, requiring teachers to videotape themselves teaching, provide lesson plans and student work samples and write reflective essays.
"It's a bit arduous," said Amy Trask, media specialist at Lady's Island Elementary, one of the district's 12 recipients. "You have to do a lot of writing, and you have to reflect a lot on what you do."
Both Trask and Laura Gottardo, a social studies teacher at Bluffton High School who also earned the designation this year, described themselves as go-getters with a bit of a competitive edge.
Gottardo said the ability to teach in any state and the raise given to National Board-certified teachers was also a draw.
The school district pays nationally certified teachers an extra $1,334 a year, down one-third from previous bonuses due to budget cuts. The state also pays them a bonus of $5,000 or $7,500 a year, depending on when they began the certification process.
Statewide, 360 teachers earned the accreditation from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards this year, bringing the total to 8,142. That places South Carolina behind only North Carolina and Florida in the number of National Board Certified teachers.
During the two-part certification process, teachers reflect on their classroom practices and their preparation techniques. They also take tests that assess their knowledge and their ability to teach it.
Gottardo said the process helped her develop better lessons and caused her to reflect more on her profession.
"I think I am a better teacher," she said.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.