Nominate An Educator

Each year, we invite all NEA state, federal, and direct affiliates to nominate one outstanding educator for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. All current members of an NEA local affiliate or bargaining unit are eligible, including teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff. These prestigious awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in both teaching and advocacy for the profession. They also honor public education and the dedicated members of the National Education Association.

The nominating site for the 2018 awards is now closed.  Applications for the 2019 class are due on May 1, 2018.

How to nominate

Please note all educators must be nominated by an NEA affiliate. If you are an individual who would like to nominate an outstanding educator, please contact the appropriate NEA state or direct affiliate


Preview the application.


Awards FAQs

The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the association. The awards are jointly presented by the NEA Foundation and the NEA.

NEA affiliates have several options for completing the application:


  • Have someone in your office complete the application administratively; or


  • Give your link and password to your state awardee and share the task. For example, you could fill in all fields related to your affiliate and only ask the awardee to complete the narrative and his or her personal information. This would also allow you to review the awardee’s information before your submission to the Foundation. (Please note that if you choose this process, you may want to change your online password each year for security purposes.)


When the application is complete, click “submit” to send it to the Foundation.

The Foundation will notify all affiliate presidents and their awardees of their status by the end of August.

  • You (and your awardee) can start an application, save it, and log back in later to edit or finish.


  • You can cut and paste into the electronic application from a Word document or Adobe file.


  • Letters of recommendation can be uploaded as one file or individually.


  • Signatures on letters are no longer required.

What are the selection criteria?

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

15 points

The awardee demonstrates instructional expertise, creativity, and innovation.  The awardee uses a variety of pedagogical techniques and effectively addresses students’ different learning styles and needs.  The awardee is an instructional leader at the local, state, and/or national level. 

Advocacy for the profession

15 points

The awardee 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 awardee is an active member of other professional organizations and engages in activities that advance the profession and public education. The awardee speaks out on behalf of public education, educators, and students.

Community engagement

5 points

The awardee frequently interacts with parents and other community members on substantive education issues.  The awardee brings community resources to the classroom and conducts service learning projects with his or her students in the community.

Professional development

10 points

The awardee continually engages in experiences to improve his or her practice and to gain new skills and knowledge. The awardee shares this new learning with colleagues in a variety of venues.  The awardee’s participation in and commitment to professional development has a visible impact on his or her institution, students, and community.

Attention to diversity

5 points

The awardee works to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of all students, regardless of differences. The awardee 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.

Each affiliate determines its own best process for selecting its awardee, and submits a single awardee’s name and qualifications to the NEA Foundation, consistent with the criteria described below. The state selection process can be based on the process used at the national level or any alternative that reflects due diligence. State leadership may also consider nominating the recipient of another local, district, state, and national award—including subject specific awards, advocacy awards, or national awards like the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching, provided that the awardee is a NEA member.

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

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