Sanford Teacher Award FAQs

What are Sanford Programs?

Sanford Programs, formally launched in September 2014, were established through a generous gift by renowned philanthropist and businessman Mr. T. Denny Sanford to serve the global needs of the 21st century by providing innovative and inspirational education programs to teachers through Sanford Inspire and Sanford Harmony, and to nonprofit and for-profit leaders through the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Sanford Programs are designed with a commitment to making a difference in society. The Programs' mission is to create positive societal change through the development of nonprofit leaders and to create educators who teach inspirational programs serving worldwide needs.

What is the Sanford Teacher Award?

Sanford Programs wants to recognize and reward 51 of the nation's top inspiring teachers - one from each U.S. state and Washington, D.C. The Sanford Teacher Award includes $10,000 for the 51 finalists and one grand prize finalist will be awarded a total of $50,000! These are individual prizes awarded directly to the inspirational teachers!

Who is eligible for this award?

Nominees Must:

  • Be a legal resident of the United States
  • Be a licensed/credentialed teacher
  • Teach at a Pre-K-12 school (public, private, or charter) in the United States
  • Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas are eligible
  • Nominees must have a minimum of three years of teaching experience

What is the process for nominating an inspirational teacher for the Sanford Teacher Award?

Teachers, students, school principals, program directors, or anyone else who knows a teacher who they believe should be recognized can complete a nomination form. Teachers can also self- nominate. One nomination per teacher as multiple nominations will not be accepted. All nominations are confidential.

Who can be nominated?

You can nominate any licensed/credentialed teacher who currently teaches in a Pre-K-12 school (public, private, or charter) and has a minimum of three years of teaching experience. We are looking for teachers who incorporate the Inspirational Instruction Indicators (see below) in their teaching.

What is the deadline for all teacher nominations?

Friday, November 20, 2019

How do I nominate a teacher?

You will set up a free account and then receive a link to nominate the teacher. Please include evidence of the Inspirational Instruction Indicators (see below) in your nomination. The nomination is confidential. After you submit your nomination form, you have officially nominated your teacher!

What happens after the nomination has been submitted?

All nominees who have a current credential and have taught a minimum of three years will receive a follow-up email, in which the nominee will be invited to create a free account to complete the application process. The nominee will then receive a link to respond to short essay questions, sharing how they incorporate the Inspirational Instruction Indicators (see below) in their teaching.

What is the deadline for all teacher nominees to complete their essay responses?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

What are the Inspirational Instruction Indicators?

An inspiring teacher can be recognized by the following indicators:

Inspiration Indicator #1: Engages Students

Students engage in interesting learning opportunities. Teachers reflect on and continuously improve their practice.

Inspiring teachers expand on their current instructional practices to support students’ engagement in learning. Through reflection, inspiring teachers identify gaps in their own knowledge and adapt current knowledge to their students’ needs. Inspiring teachers reflect on ways to improve teaching practices through ongoing learning and development, including such strategies as coaching, professional development resources, and online learning tools. Inspiring teachers strive to continue to learn and grow their teaching practices, classroom culture, and relationships with students.

Inspiration Indicator #2: Builds Confidence

Students work hard, persevere, and are resilient in the face of challenge. Teachers build trust and rapport with students informed by an understanding of their students’ cultures, backgrounds, and interests.

Inspiring teachers are knowledgeable about their students. Teachers strive to connect with students’ backgrounds, needs, and interests. Inspiring teachers model positive behavior and work towards developing trust and rapport with all students. Inspiring teachers practice patience and understanding and interact in a respectful manner with all students. Students are able to connect with other students, and with the teacher, when there are opportunities to learn about others through students sharing about who they are. Integrating opportunities for self-expression and creative expression may also lend itself well to serving as a foundation for student resiliency and healing from trauma.

Inspiration Indicator #3: Creates an Inclusive Environment

Students feel a sense of belonging due to relationships with peers and staff. Teachers are caring and respectful.

Inspiring teachers recognize the uniqueness of each student and create a respectful and caring classroom environment in which all students can thrive and succeed in school. Differences are respected, accepted, and celebrated. Students feel that they matter to the teacher by how the teacher communicates to students and the ways in which the classroom’s physical environment is organized. Inspiring teachers are also knowledgeable about the school environment and school activities to increase the likelihood that both are inclusive and that all students may equally access and benefit from various opportunities provided by schools. Students feel safe because the teacher has established clear and fair rules in a well-managed classroom. Inspiring teachers encourage their students to have meaningful and healthy relationships with their peers and community members. Inspiring teachers encourage their students to participate and to explore and ask questions. Inspiring teachers emphasize that learning is about a partnership and working together to meet academic goals (with their peers and teacher).

Inspiration Indicator #4: Motivates Students to Succeed

Students set learning goals and direct their learning to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Teachers use assessments effectively to improve their understanding of students.

Inspiring teachers understand how to effectively apply assessments to gain a clear picture of student learning needs. One assessment may not be sufficient, and some assessments are better than others in providing useful feedback on student learning and engagement for specific ages and grade levels. Assessments are used systematically and strategically to identify student learning needs and progress towards goals.

Inspiration Indicator #5: Gives Students a Voice

Students are confident, curious, and have a voice. Teachers engage in a high support/high demand approach.

Students observe the interconnectedness of the learning opportunities, instructional practices, the environment, and assessments in reaching academic and personal goals. Inspiring Teachers care about the success of all of their students and work towards creating a learning environment that is rigorous; and, at the same time, inspiring teachers demonstrate care and support to facilitate student development. Inspiring teachers also provide the appropriate amount of challenge and support in their instruction. Students have a voice, a choice, and are able to take ownership of their learning. Inspiring teachers help develop students’ self-efficacy by strengthening their interpersonal skills.

How will the Sanford Teacher Award recipients be chosen?

The nominations forms and nominee essay responses will be reviewed by a selection committee based at National University in San Diego, California. A group of finalists will be determined and a confidential letter of support will be requested from the finalists’ site administrators. The committee will review the finalists’ nominations and application, along with the letters of support, to select the (51) award recipients of the Sanford Teacher Award. The committee will then determine the grand prize Sanford Teacher Award winner from the 51 finalists.

When will the Sanford Teacher Award recipients be notified?

The 51 Sanford Teacher Award finalists will be contacted by phone and/or email in January 2020. Due to the high volume of submissions, only those who are being considered for the award will be contacted. The grand prize winner will be announced in May 2020, as part of Teacher Appreciation Month.

How will the Sanford Teacher Award recipients be acknowledged?

The (50) award recipients will receive $10,000, with one grand prize winner receiving a total of $50,000. All winners will also be featured on the Sanford Programs website, including social media sites and newsletters.

Are there any rules governing how the $10,000 and/or $50,000 teacher award must be spent?

Monetary awards may be spent at the discretion of individual winners and schools. Winners are encouraged to consult school and district policy for any regulations or prohibitions on using the award.

Are there any expectations for Sanford Teacher Award winners beyond receiving the recognition?

Our Sanford Teacher Award winners are so inspiring! We hope our winners will continue to be part of our efforts to inspire other educators. We may invite winners to join in future professional development opportunities. All future commitments will be voluntary.

Can 2019 Sanford Teacher Award finalists win again?

While we love our previous Sanford Teacher Award winners, the 2020 Sanford Teacher Award is for new inspirational teachers.

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