But, with these two teachers, that accomplishment alone is not the entire story.
Not only did they support and encourage each other through the long study hours and demanding application and portfolio process, they also continued a friendship that began over 20 years ago when they both started their teaching careers.
"We were both teaching in Winston-Salem when Joyce and her husband, boyfriend then, set me and my husband up on a blind date," Queen said.
"My husband Richard and Joanna's husband Dwight have been friends since childhood," Joyce said. "They grew up together and have played baseball together for 30 years. They were such good friends that when Richard and I wanted to go out on a date, Dwight was usually with Richard. One night I told Richard we had to find Dwight a girlfriend."
"So, Dwight and I went on a blind date," Queen said. "The first date, we hardly spoke to each other. Richard would ask me questions he thought Dwight might like the answers to and Rachel asked him questions too. When I got home that night I remember telling my mother the date was a real dud.
"Then, five weeks later, after much encouraging from Rachel, Dwight and I went on a second date," she said. "Story is that Dwight told Richard he was going to take it real slow, but two weeks after that second date, he presented me with a diamond engagement ring. We've been married for 20 years."
The two have been teased many times over the years about their teamwork, especially when their first children were born three weeks apart. Both of the women said their teamwork failed with their second children, who were born one year apart.
"But, one of each of our children are on the Hunter Safety team together that won the nationals," Joyce said.
Queen has two children, Katie, 19 and Drew, 16. Joyce's two children are Hannah, 19 and Catherine, 15. Hannah and Drew are the two students on the winning hunter's safety team.
"Our family's have been a great source of support for us through the accreditation period," both women said. "Without their patience and understanding and their eating many meals of takeout, the process of earning the national board certification would never have succeeded."
National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. It complements, but does not replace, a state’s teacher license. It is valid for 10 years, and renewal candidates must begin the renewal process during their eighth or ninth years as NBCTs.
National Board Certification is achieved upon successful completion of a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do. National Board Certification is available nationwide for most preK–12 teachers.
"As part of the certification process, you must complete 10 assessments that are reviewed by trained teachers in their certificate areas," Joyce said. "The assessments include four portfolio entries that feature teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge. Two of those entries must be videos that are 15 minute long lessons to a group of students."
"The process is called a three-year process, but certification can be reached in the first year," Queen said. "We both received ours in our second year."
"They tell you that only about 40 percent of those working for the certification actually get it in the first year," Joyce said. "But when you don't get it the first time, it's a real disappointment.
"Since we didn't get ours the first time, we had to reapply and do only the sections where we had the lowest points," she said. "I had to complete one section, but chose to do two to help with my overall score which has to be 275 for certification."
"I had to do two sections, but chose to do three just in case," Queen said. "It is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done. We both have our master's degree, but earning the certification is extremely hard."
"It's like taking 16 hours of credit in college courses while working a full-time job teaching students that you have to give 100 percent plus to and maintaining your life and being a part of your family. I turned my entire dining room into a study for the duration of the process."
"I turned our play room into my study hall and hardly got any sleep," Queen said. "Occasionally, I would see food and water being placed at my elbow by my husband in support of me. I'm the choir director at our church and the members of the choir gracefully supported me through the process."
An application for the certification is made in August with the required steps being completed and sent in the National Board prior to March 31 of the following year.
"There have been so many people here at Forbush Elementary that have given us their support during this process," Joyce said. "We have two other teachers, Tonya Moss, who teaches first grade, and April Norman, who teaches fourth grade, who have earned their national board certification prior to this year. They were a great help along with our principal who showed up on many Saturday's to open the building so we could study. Many of the members of my church jokingly asked me if I was living at the school. Our assistant principal has also been a great help. Our teacher's aides and volunteer parents helped to coordinate when we were filming our videos by helping to keep the students focused and quiet and the entire school team held announcements and disruptions of class time so we could do our videos."
"The board suggests that two or more teachers in the same school do different subject lessons as to not be alike and although we could help each other study, we could not help each other fulfill the requirements of the portfolio."
"And that's another subject," Queen said. "The portfolio is something you agonize and stress over. There are very specific instructions with tabs, stickers, how pages must be turned, font size, and on and on that has to be met. If any of the things required about the portfolio itself are not met it can be rejected before it's even graded."
"It took an entire week just to put the portfolio together," Joyce said. "And then when you mail it in its specific box, you have to insure it for the cost of applying for the certification, which is $2,500. Both Joanna and I were very lucky and received a scholarship from the state that paid our application fee of $2,500. It's my understanding that the fee itself is why many teachers have to wait to apply for their certification."
National Board Certification has several different classifications of certification available. Both Joyce and Queen applied for Middle Child School Generalist certification which required that they be proficient in all subjects not just the subjects in which they taught.
"In 22 years of teaching, I've never taught history," Queen said. "Rachel and I did a history time line and studied it over and over to become familiar with that subject. I teach fifth and sixth grade science and Rachel teaches fifth grade language arts and sixth grade math. When you don't teach a particular subject, you certainly have to brush up on the skills for a generalist certification."
"The testing process for the certification is a closed room, with security measures taken to ensure fair testing. The test consists of six, 30 minute sessions in front of a computer where through pages you are asked to answer questions and prepare lessons for certain scenarios that have to come off the top of your head," Joyce said.
"At the end of the thirty minutes, whether you've completed that particular section or not, the computer screen goes blank and moves you on to the next section," Queen said. "You are not allowed to have any resources whatsoever, including no access to the Internet for information. You have to know it from years of teaching and learning to succeed."
Both teachers attended NCAE workshops to help by offering the knowledge and experience of the requirements by certified teachers. Joyce was selected to attend a NCCAT (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching) conference where selected teachers spent 'every waking hour intensely working' on preparing for the process.
"I was able to bring back a lot of materials from the conference that helped both of us in the process," Joyce said.
"One thing about our doing this together and through our school is that our class of sixth graders has appeared in every video that has been submitted for us and the other teachers here at Forbush who have earned their certification," Queen said. "They are a great group of students and have helped us immensely."
"We were so lucky to have each other's support," they both said. "The process is grueling and to have someone who knows you well and has been your support system throughout your life and career is a great thing."
Both Joyce and Queen were recognized by the Yadkin County School Board during their January meeting for earning their certification.