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The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote both excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. The NEA Foundation (NEAF or the Foundation) and National Education Association (NEA) present the awards jointly.


All Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees receive expenses-paid travel to Washington, DC, for The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, to be held in February of 2025. Five awardees are selected for the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and receive $10,000 each plus expenses-paid travel to the Gala for themselves and a guest. The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient, selected from the five Horace Mann awardees, receives $25,000 in cash and a commemorative gift.

The nomination deadline this year is Friday, March 1, 2024.

Nomination packets are submitted directly to CTA for nomination selection. Nomination packets are then read and screened by a committee to verify that required criteria has been met. Nomination packets that have met criteria are then forwarded to an interview committee for each nominee to be interviewed.

The interview committee will select one nominee to recommend to the CTA Board for approval as the CTA nominee to the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. CTA nominates and submits a single nominee’s name and qualifications to the NEA Foundation, consistent with the criteria described below.

The nomination deadline this year is Friday, March 1, 2024.

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 may each submit one nomination per year.

Only nominations submitted and endorsed by one of these affiliates will be considered. Should a nominee’s NEA membership be discontinued between the date of their nomination and the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, hosted by The NEA Foundation, the nomination must be rescinded. In that instance, however, the state affiliate, Federal Education Association, or direct affiliate will have the opportunity to submit a new nomination.

NEAF—like NEA—does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. NEAF encourages NEA state leaders to consider awardees who reflect the diversity among NEA members and who teach in schools representing the diversity of the student population.

Applications for the national awards are judged according to five criteria. Panelists rate state awardees on each criterion using the point value indicated below.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE: The nominee demonstrates expertise, creativity, and innovation in providing rich learning opportunities for students. The nominee uses a variety of strategies to effectively address students’ different learning styles and needs. (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 is a strong, effective spokesperson for students, educators and the profession. (15 points)

COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION AND JUSTICE: The nominee works to provide a safe, supportive 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, through interactions with students. (10 points)

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: The nominee actively engages families to support student learning and success. The nominee is intentional in engaging the community to enhance student learning and success. (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 effective ways. The nominee’s participation in and commitment to professional development has a visible impact on his or her students, institution and community. (5 points)

Nomination packages must include the five items listed below. Formatting instructions are noted in italics for each section.


The data sheet requests contact information for the state, federal, or direct affiliate; the nominee; and the nominee’s local affiliate. Two pages maximum, the form must be typed.


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. If this approach is used, the state president should attach an additional page with one sentence certifying the nomination. Three pages maximum, double-spaced, 12-point or larger type.


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. Two pages maximum.


The nominee’s statement must be written by the nominee, as a first-person narrative. The statement should include specific examples to illustrate all five of the award criteria. The questions below do not need to be copied verbatim in the text. However, state nominees are strongly encouraged to include headings or keywords related to the criteria to aid the panelists in their reading. No more than 6 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font.


  • How have you grown as an educator throughout your career? Cite examples of ways you have developed your skills and/or adapted your practice over time. What strategies or methods do you use to support student learning and student success?
  • Share a story about how your work has made a difference for a student or a group of students.


  • 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? Please include examples and, if possible, links to videos of you speaking.


  • How do you address issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in your interactions with students? What is the result of such efforts? How does your approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice affect your work? Please include examples.


  • How have you been intentional in engaging families and community members to support student learning and success? How do you build relationships with parents and community members? Please include examples.


  • 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 students, school and community? Please include examples.


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, if possible, and the salutation should address the NEA Foundation’s national selection panel. Up to three letters, two pages maximum each, double-spacing preferred. Letters must be submitted with all other materials.


A JPEG photo (at least 72 pixels per inch and 400KB) of the state nominee should be uploaded as part of the online application. By submitting this photo and application, the nominee consents to the unlimited use by The NEA Foundation and/or the National Education Association (NEA) of his/her image in any form, including but not limited to, digital media, film, audio recording or still photography, in connection with any Foundation and/or NEA publicity or communications effort. These efforts may include, among other things, publications, videos, and websites.

The nominee agrees that the Foundation and/or NEA may have unlimited use of any program information or text from communications that they submit, in connection with any Foundation and/or NEA publicity or communications efforts, as described above.

The NEA Foundation and/or NEA shall be under no obligation to use the nominee’s materials in any way. The nominee further agrees that neither the Foundation nor the NEA will compensate them financially or otherwise for the consents granted above.




Each NEA affiliate determines its own best process for selecting its Awards for Teaching Excellence nominee and submits a single awardee’s name and qualifications to the Foundation, consistent with the criteria described below. A state affiliate cannot nominate the same educator more than once.

Please note that since state Teachers of the Year are chosen through a process designed by the State Superintendent and may not be union members, most state affiliates have developed their own process by which to identify their Awards for Teaching Excellence nominee.



A national selection panel chooses the five recipients of the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence from among the affiliate awardees. The President and CEO of The NEA Foundation and the NEA President appoint these panelists.

The Horace Mann awardees will interview with the national selection panel in August 2024 and based on these interviews, the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient will be chosen.

A) Data Sheet— 2 pages maximum

B) Nomination Letter — 3 pages maximum

C) Resume — 2 pages maximum

D) Nominee’s Statement — 6 pages maximum

E) Endorsement Letters — 6 pages maximum (3 letters, 2 pages each)

F) Digital Photo— 72 pixels per inch and 400KB

*A total of 19 pages maximum and 1 digital photo

  • Do not staple or permanently bind the materials.
  • Paper clips are acceptable.
  • Do not use covers or other decorative packaging. Include only the materials requested in these guidelines.
  • Mail one complete nomination package to:
    California Teachers Association
    Attn: CTA Human Rights Department
    P.O. Box 921
    Burlingame, CA 94011-0921

Deadline: Friday, March 1, 2024


Email CTA Human Rights Department at

Visit NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence to learn more about the program.