The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers, identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.
Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent millions of educators, selects four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year based on a set of criteria.
The National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952 as a means of recognizing outstanding teachers. The Nebraska Teacher of the Year Program has been in place since 1972 and affords an opportunity to honor dedicated teachers for excellence in classroom teaching. The Nebraska Department of Education coordinates events surrounding Teacher of the Year activities, working with the Nebraska State Education Association, Nebraska Association of School Boards, Nebraska Council of School Administrators, and Nebraska Parent-Teacher Association.
The Nebraska Awards of Excellence Program, which features selection of the Nebraska Teacher of the Year, serves to recognize the contributions of the classroom teacher. The Nebraska Teacher of the Year candidate has the respect and admiration of their colleagues and:
- Is an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence;
- Collaborates with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success;
- Deliberately connects the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large;
- Demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning; and,
- Expresses themselves in an engaging and articulate way.
The Nebraska Application Review Committee examines all Part A and Part B applications submitted and selects up to five finalists (Award of Excellence Teachers). Each of the Award of Excellence Teacher will be interviewed to determine the Nebraska Teacher of the Year, who will be eligible for consideration as the National Teacher of the Year. Only completed applications will be considered.
Certified teachers, who plan to continue in an active teacher status in any state-approved or accredited school pre-kindergarten through grade 12, may be nominated. Supervisory and administrative responsibilities are secondary considerations.
Whether nominated by someone else or applying directly for the honor, each candidate must personally complete the application form. All answers must be in the teacher’s own words.
Those individuals interested in nominating a teacher will complete and submit the nomination form. The teacher will then receive the Teacher of the Year application to be completed and submitted. Candidates do not need to be nominated to complete the application.
The Application Review Panel and the Interview Panel want to see one the candidates teaching strategies and how he or she effectively communicates with students. Candidates are asked to submit an unedited YouTube video of a single lesson, not to exceed 15 minutes, of instruction. If the instruction is longer than 15 minutes, the video must include either the beginning or end of the lesson. The video is not expected to be of professional quality, it is important that the Application Review Panel and the Interview Panel can clearly see and hear the applicant, the students, and what is happening in the lesson. The Classroom video is postponed for 2022. A two-minute Public Speaking video will be submitted with the application.
March 2021 Application packets available.
August 11, 2021 (CDT) Postmarked or Submitted deadline for receipt of applications.
August 23, 2021 Finalists will be selected and notified.
August/September 2021 Finalists will be interviewed in Lincoln.
September 2021 Announcement of Finalists.
November 2021 Awards Recognition Event
(2020 Awards Recognition Event postponed – Date to be Announced)
The Nebraska Teacher of the Year’s duties will be extensive. The selected candidate will maintain a regular teaching schedule while also fulfilling the duties of the Teacher of the Year position. Some highlights of the Nebraska Teacher of the Year may include:
Participating in the National Teacher of the Year Program as a representative of Nebraska (a year of professional learning through the National Teacher of the Year Program with a cohort of State Teachers of the Year from the 50 states, U.S. extra-state jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity);
Speaking at various engagements across the state – Administrators’ Days conference, Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association (NRCSA) conference; Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) Delegate Assembly and others;
Participating in workshops and local school programs across the state;
Participating in the Council of Chief State School Officer (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program Induction at a location to be determined at this time (this conference is approximately one week);
Participating in the National Teacher of the Year Washington Recognition Week (this event is held in Washington, DC and includes a Recognition Ceremony for the National Teacher of the Year (this event is approximately one week);
Participating in International Space Camp in Huntsville, AL (this event is approximately one week);
Participating in the ECS National Forum on Education Policy at a location to be determined at this time (this event is approximately three days); and
Participating in the National Teacher of the Year Program Next Steps Conference in Princeton, NJ (this event is approximately one week).
For additional information, please contact:
Lora Sypal, Teacher of the Year Coordinator
Nebraska Department of Education
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509-4987
Telephone: (402) 471-5059