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 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
  • Have a minimum of three years of teaching experience
  • Be a United States resident

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: Reflects on Teacher Practice to Maximize Student Engagement

Teachers continuously reflect and improve upon their practice. Outcome: Students learn in engaging opportunities.

Inspiring teachers:

  • Expand on their current instructional practices to support students’ engagement in learning.
  • Reflect on ways to improve teaching practices through ongoing learning and professional development.
  • Access additional resources as needed, such as coaching, professional development and online learning tools.
  • Strive to continue to learn and grow their teaching practices, classroom culture, and relationships with students.

Inspiration Indicator #2: Builds Student Confidence and Student Resiliency

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

Inspiring teachers:

  • Are knowledgeable about their students and strive to connect with students’ backgrounds, needs, and interests.
  • Model positive behavior and work towards developing trust and rapport with all students.
  • Ensure students connect with other students, teachers and other adults on campus.
  • Integrate opportunities for self-expression and creative expression, serving as a foundation for student resiliency and building the skills to face life challenges.

Inspiration Indicator #3: Creates an Inclusive, Respectful Learning Environment

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

Inspiring teachers:

  • Recognize the uniqueness of each student and create a respectful and caring classroom environment where all students can thrive and succeed in school.
  • Are knowledgeable and supportive about how all students may equally access and benefit from various opportunities provided by schools.
  • Establish clear and fair rules in a well-managed, well-organized classroom, where students feel safe and supported.
  • Encourage their students to have meaningful and healthy relationships with their peers and community members.

Inspiration Indicator #4: Maximizes Assessment Results for Student Growth and Motivates Students to Succeed

Teachers use assessments effectively to improve their understanding of students. Outcome: Students establish their own learning goals and reach for their own dreams and aspirations.

Inspiring teachers:

  • Promote and empower students to monitor their own progress in reaching their goals.
  • Effectively use multiple assessments to gain a clear picture of student learning needs to plan instruction.
  • Share data with students and families to support progress towards academic goals.
  • Motivate students to achieve their personal goals and dream big.

Inspiration Indicator #5: Sets High Expectations while Promoting Student Choice and Student Voice

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

Inspiring teachers:

  • Ensure students observe the interconnectedness of the learning opportunities, instructional practices, the environment, and assessments in reaching academic and personal goals.
  • Work towards creating a challenging, rigorous learning environment with high expectations for all.
  • Allow opportunities for students to have a voice, a choice, and to take ownership of their own learning.
  • 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 early 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. If you were nominated last year, but you were not a finalist, you are welcome to apply again.

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