FARMINGTON — Three area educators have earned national board certifications to help advance student learning in the classroom.

Educators from the Farmington Municipal School District and the Aztec Municipal School District earned National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The rigorous certification process takes hundreds of hours to complete.

As part of the most recent graduating class in November, James Jacobs, the Aztec school district's math coach, and Farmington High School's librarian teacher Kyla Johnson and algebra II teacher Jovita Mowrer were certified.

According to a press release from the New Mexico National Board Certified Teacher chapter, the state has 870 national board certified teachers, including nine in the Farmington school district, three in the Bloomfield School District and one each in the Aztec school district and the Central Consolidated School District.

Johnson said the accreditation process is a combination of portfolio submissions and online tests. The online tests include reviewing teachers' teaching styles by watching a video of them in the classroom and evaluating their students' work samples to check growth and achievement.

"I just felt like the next step professionally was the challenge of becoming national board certified," Johnson said. "It was a lot more intense than I expected."

Johnson became certified on her third attempt, and Mowrer and Jacobs were certified on their first attempts.

During the process of applying for the certification, Johnson said she learned a lot more about how to improve her teaching style.

"I saw so much growth the first year to the third year in terms of how I approach things with students in terms of my planning for classes and things like that," Johnson said. "When it comes to teaching information literacy, which is the meat of what school librarians do, I feel a lot more confident."

Jacobs said he appreciated having math teachers evaluate him as part of certification process. And, he said, the application process caused him to focus his teaching style more on what his students were learning.

"I feel that going through this process has been the best professional development that I have had in my almost 20-year teaching career, and I wish that I had undergone the process sooner," Jacobs said. "One of the reasons that I feel this way is that National Board Certification forced me to take a real in-depth look at my practices and identify my strengths and weaknesses."

Completing the process takes an estimated 200 to 400 hours per teacher and costs about $3,500 in expenses, according to the state's chapter of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Mowrer said the work required consumed her evenings, weekends and part of her summer. But, she said, it taught her to think about her teaching style.

"The whole process taught us to be more reflective about our teaching and who we are as teachers and what we do in the classroom," Mowrer said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.