The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. They also honor public education and the dedicated members of the NEA. The awards are presented jointly by the NEA Foundation and the National Education Association (NEA) with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Educators’ Corporation, and California Casualty.
All affiliate awardees receive expenses-paid travel to The NEA Foundation’s Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, DC. Five awardees are selected for The Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and receive $10,000 each plus expenses paid travel for themselves and a guest. The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient, selected from the five, receives $25,000 in cash and a personalized commemorative gift.
All current members of an NEA local affiliate or bargaining unit are eligible, including teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff. NEA state affiliates, the Federal Education Association, and direct affiliates (UDC and UHPA) may each submit one nomination per year. Only nominations submitted and endorsed by one of these affiliates will be considered.
Nominations are judged according to five criteria. Panelists rate nominees on each criterion using the point value indicated below.
- Professional Practice: The nominee demonstrates instructional expertise, creativity, and innovation. The nominee uses a variety of pedagogical techniques and effectively addresses students’ different learning styles and needs. The nominee is an instructional leader at the local, state, and/or national level. (15 points)
- Advocacy for the Profession: The nominee is a current, active member of the local, state, and/or national education association, and has assumed leadership roles at one or more of these levels. The nominee is an active member of other professional organizations and engages in activities that advance the profession and public education. The nominee speaks out on behalf of public education, educators, and students. (15 points)
- Community Engagement: The nominee frequently interacts with parents and other community members on substantive education issues. The nominee brings community resources to the classroom and conducts service learning projects with his or her students in the community. (5 points)
- Leadership in Professional Development: The nominee continually engages in experiences to improve his or her practice and to gain new skills and knowledge. The nominee shares this new learning with colleagues in a variety of venues. The nominee’s participation in and commitment to professional development has a visible impact on his or her institution, students, and community. (10 points)
- Attention to Diversity: The nominee works to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of all students, regardless of differences. The nominee recognizes and explicitly addresses the full array of values, cultures, and experiences represented in our diverse modern society, both through curriculum and instruction and in other interactions with students. (5 points)
Contents of Nomination
Nomination packages must include all of the items listed below, in the specified order. Nomination Formatting instructions are noted for each section.
A. Data Sheet- The data sheet requests contact information for the state, federal, or direct affiliate; the nominee; and the nominee’s local affiliate. The data sheet can be downloaded here. One page maximum. The form must be typed.
B. Nomination Letter - The nomination letter from the state, federal, or direct affiliate president explains why the nominee deserves the award. Alternatively, a local president can write the official nomination letter outlining the nominee’s qualifications and the state president can attach an additional page with one sentence certifying the nomination. Three pages maximum, double-spaced, 12-point or larger type. Must be on the Local Chapter affiliate letterhead and signed by the Local Chapter affiliate president.
C. Resume - The resume provides a brief, factual overview of the nominee’s career, including positions held, degrees attained, honors received, etc. The resume may also describe personal achievements or activities that are not noted elsewhere. One page maximum, double-spaced, 12-point or larger type. Use narrative, bulleted lists, or both.
D. Nominee's Statement -The nominee’s statement must be written by the nominee, as a first-person narrative. The statement includes specific examples to illustrate all five of the award criteria. The questions below do not need to be copied verbatim in the text. However, nominees are strongly encouraged to include headings or keywords related to the criteria to aid the panelists in their reading. 3400 words maximum, (No more than five pages maximum) double-spaced, 12-point or larger type.
- What are the most successful innovations that you have introduced in your classroom or school? What strategies or methods do you use to ensure that all students achieve at a high level? How do you act as an instructional leader?
- How has your involvement in the National Education Association or NEA affiliate(s) contributed to your success as an educator? How would you persuade a new colleague to join or become more active in the association? In what other ways do you serve as an advocate for the profession and for public education?
- What community resources do you bring to the classroom to enhance your lessons and student achievement? What service learning projects have you conducted with your students to benefit the community?
- What experiences or activities have been most beneficial to your professional knowledge, skills, and practice? How have you contributed to the professional development of your colleagues? How has your professional growth made a difference for your school or university, your students, and your community? Include examples.
- How do you address issues of diversity in your curriculum and instruction and in other interactions with students? What is the result of such efforts? How does your approach to diversity affect your work?
- If you have not already done so, tell a story about how your approach to teaching made a difference for a student or a group of students.
- What advice would you give to someone entering the profession on how to attain teaching excellence?
E. Letterof Endorsement- Letters of endorsement are written by the nominee’s local affiliate president, colleagues, current or former students, parents, or community members. Letters should be signed, and the salutation should address the state affiliate selection committee or the national selection panel for The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence.