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The Road to the Pin

Earning My CETL

Some moments happen in the lives that cause us to pause and say, “ I am pretty darn proud of myself!”  One of those moments was when I received my CoSN Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) lapel pin in the mail. I stood in my office, admiring the small metal blue and silver pin packaged in a velvet pouch, and understood the significance of earning the certification.

What is CETL?


The Education Technology Leader Certification program is offered by the Consortium of School Networks (CoSN) as a way to identify education technology leaders “who have mastered the framework skills and knowledge needed to bring 21st-century skills to schools.”. These skills include leadership and vision, understanding the educational environment, and managing technologies and support resources. The requirements are rigorous and ensure that when school districts hire a CETL technology director, they are hiring edtech leaders to lead and support edtech initiatives. These leaders are responsible for ensuring that students have the skills necessary for a global community.

The Path


I have gone down many roads over the last….years. Some have been easy walking paths, while other paths had boulders and mud. One thing that has always had my attention was technology.  

As an accountant, I excitedly embraced the new-fangled contraptions called computers. Using these devices, I could file tax returns, audit inventory, and create electronic balance sheets and profit and loss statements in less billable hours than had been previously possible.  As a Math teacher, Moodle and interactive whiteboards allowed my curriculum to come alive with collaboration, student-focus learning, and anytime, anywhere access to education. As a school building administrator, bringing blended learning and 1:1 programs to the district changed the face and delivery of education for our students and educators.

So when I was hired as a Director of Academic Technology in my school district, I knew that educators and students deserved a highly skilled person that could guide, lead, inform, predict and support both informational and instructional technology. This required me to strap on a pair of Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX hiking shoes and ascend the mountain called CETL. I had collected pebbles of experiences, knowledge, and skills on my journey down these many paths, and now it was time to collect some more.

The Mountain

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I will admit that I was a little intimidated by the list of 400 highly qualified CETLs in the CoSN CETL directory. What did I need to do to achieve this honor?  So as any tech geek would do, I “googled” programs, courses, and online resources. I discovered and enrolled in a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) program offered by the Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators Association (METAA), an affiliate of CoSN.

This demanding 14-week online program followed the CoSN Framework of Essential Skills. Through discussion boards, reflections, and readings, I gained the knowledge and the confidence that earned me the CTO certification. However, I still wanted to plant my flag on the top of the Education Tech Leaders mountain. This peak was in sight but not yet reachable.

CoSN’s mission statement states that “CoSN empowers educational leaders to leverage technology to create and grow engaging learning environments.”  They certainly modeled this mission by offering CETL candidates an online CETL course thru Canvas. This was just the support and fuel I needed to finish my journey. I benefited from the online discussions with other candidates and took practice exams that focused on my areas of strength and improvement areas. I was ready!

Ready, Set, Go!

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Besides an application process, CETL candidates must pass a two-part exam.  By far, one of the most rigorous exams that I have ever taken. I had to put on my big girl pants and demonstrate that I knew my “stuff” through multiple-choice questions and essay topics based on real-life scenarios.  But like any good hiker/leader, I was prepared! I was actually smiling, yes smiling, as I solved each scenario. It was probably the first time on the whole journey that I knew that I would be listed in the CETL Directory.

The Summit


So in April 2018, I received the email that made it all worthwhile. “Congratulations!  You have been successful in attaining CETL Certification! “

AND here is the pin to prove it!


Btw, I am thinking of making my pin into a necklace:)  Know any good jewelers?

April 2018 

Published inProfessional Learning


  1. Steve Ouellette Steve Ouellette

    Congratulations Eileen. I just finished the METTA CTO course and found it quite helpful. I’d be curious to learn more about what you did afterwards to prepare. I’m hoping to use the summer to get ready for the CTEL test in the Fall. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @OuelletteSteve.

  2. Congratulations Eileen, and welcome to the ranks of CETL!
    Thanks for documenting your journey on your blog and providing encouragement for those who seek to scale the peak after you. Know that this is a defining moment (like your first 14er for example!) but that in many ways it is just the beginning of a larger journey. Happy trails!

    Pete Just CETL
    CTO/COO @ MSD of Wayne Township (#WeAreWayne)
    CoSN Chair Elect

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