Our Sanford Teacher Award winners were selected for demonstrating high levels of inspirational teaching practices by engaging students, building student confidence, giving students a voice, motivating students to succeed, and creating an inclusive environment.

We are honored to celebrate our winners who demonstrate outstanding teaching and inspiration by supporting the social emotional learning of their students. Our winners have a genuine, powerful effect on their communities, and we are proud to recognize their dedication and accomplishments.

The awards reflect the combined missions of Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire to provide whole-child education and promote positive peer relationships. We are grateful to all our nominees for displaying these characteristics in their classrooms each and every day.

Meet Our 2020 Sanford Teacher Award Winners!

Sanford Programs and National University System are excited to announce the Sanford Teacher Award winner from each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Click the map graphic below to meet the winners and read what members of their communities — including principals, colleagues, parents, and former students — have to say about their work as inspirational teachers.

Congratulations to all award winners!


Sarah Campbell

Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan High School

"Ms. Campbell leads our department with dedication and she's focused on engaging students both in the class and throughout the community."


Arlinda Davis

Birmingham, Alabama - Avondale Elementary School

"My life would not be today if it were not for Ms. Davis. I and so many other students call her "Mama Davis" because of the relationships she has built with us. She builds trust and rapport with students by being genuinely involved and concerned in every part of a child's life."


Jana Harrison

Hot Springs, Arkansas - Cutter Morning Star Elementary School

"Ms. Harrison is by far the BEST middle school science teacher and all around MENTOR to our 5th and 6th graders that I've had the pleasure of working with in my 44 year career!"


Vonyee Soulfire

Phoenix, Arizona - South Pointe Elementary School

"Ms. Soulfire focuses on the whole child and empowers students to build their self motivation and growth mindset."


Melissa Barclay

Los Angeles, California - 59th St. Elementary

"Ms. Barclay develops a safe rapport with her students. She is one of those teachers students will remember their whole lives."


Angie Gorham

Pueblo, Colorado - Vineland Middle School

"Ms. Gorham does everything I could ask for in a teacher and always helps those around her."


Michael Ginicola

Stratford, Connecticut - Nichols Elementary School

"Mr. Ginicola is a master of blended classrooms, integrating dance and movement, and providing professional development for all colleagues."


Alejandro Diasgranados

Washington, District of Columbia - Aiton Elementary School

"Mr. Diasgranados is an exceptionally inspiring teacher because of his dedication and commitment to go above and beyond for his students, using his own story as inspiration to show students that they can succeed."


Melissa Tracy

Wilmington, Delaware - Odyssey Charter School

"Ms. Tracy is a consummate teaching professional and one who inspires those around her to be better educators and citizens of the world. She is a leader in social justice and affording a quality, rigorous, and meaningful education for all students."


Judy Bremner

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Lauderdale Manors Early Learning Facility

"Ms. Bremner embraces her role of advocating and supporting students' continuous academic growth with enthusiastic pride and passion on a daily basis."


Keith Furstenberg

Canton, Georgia - Free Home Elementary School

"Innovative. Passionate. Creative. These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of Mr. Furstenberg. He knows each child’s name, has high expectations for his students and instills a confidence about learning within each child. He cares about the kids and they know it."


Kathryn Young

Makawao, Hawaii - Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School

"Ms. Young has the highest expectations for her students and always pushes them to do their best."


Allan Janss

Des Moines, Iowa - Brubaker Elementary

"Mr. Janss consistently uses tact and skill to develop a strong classroom community. He embraces challenges with an attitude and mindset that will overcome barriers often evident within a classroom with students with significant needs."


Christine Drick

Boise, Idaho - South Junior High

"Ms. Drick spends endless hours connecting with students so they know they are appreciated and safe and she treats every student as though they are special and the only one."


Heather McCarthy

Oak Lawn, Illinois - Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School

"Ms. McCarthy has consistently demonstrated a relentless effort to inspire our scholars through social justice topics and concepts to become practitioners of change. She is also a passionate advocate of global citizenship through literacy."


Kate Toebes

Indianapolis, Indiana - Lawrence Central High School

"Mrs. Toebes provides opportunities for our school community as a health coach, and tirelessly supports our students and staff as an educator."


Kristen Cook

Humboldt, Kansas - Humboldt Elementary School

"Ms. Cook is a leader in incorporating social-emotional learning into the classroom. She has high expectations of her students and helps them gain the confidence they need to meet those expectations."


Contessa Harris

RIchmond, Kentucky - Glenn Marshall Elementary School

"Mrs. Harris is a phenomenal teacher and she works tirelessly to make sure each of her students grows, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally."


Ronit Robinson

Baton Rouge, Lousiana - The Dufrocq School

"Ms. Robinson has touched the lives of many students in her class, and spends many volunteer hours after school working with students to make sure all succeed under her tutelage."


Jennifer Perrault

South Yarmouth, Massachusetts - St Pius X School

"Ms. Perrault is a constantly positive and creative educator. She inspires her students daily to think, to solve problems, to collaborate, and to take ownership of their learning."


Whitney Green

Laurel, Maryland - CMIT North Elementary School

"Ms. Green adovcates for every individual in our building -- each and every stakeholder alike -- students, staff, parents and community members. She greets each and every student as they enter the building and energizes their day."


Joseph Hennessey

Guilford, Maine - Piscataquis Community High School

"Our graduates frequently share that their senior English teacher Mr. Hennessey prepared them best for their next step in life."


Lauren Ortega

Detroit, Michigan - Detroit Prep

"Even in the most challenging situations and balancing multiple responsibilities, Ms. Ortega maintained her focus on creating a community of learning in her classroom, not only for the current year, but also for her students’ lives in the future."


Jordan McNiven

Minneapolis, Minnesota - Hiawatha Leadership Academy

"Mr. McNiven creates a classroom community where all students and teammates thrive; he honors the individuality of his students and works to build a strong collective team on the path through college."


Cynthia Prinster

Berkeley, Missouri - Holman Elementary School

"Ms. Prinster has changed the culture in her school through her efforts in student wellness, and she consistently creates opportunities that inspire students to learn and grow as responsible citizens."


Woodrow Price

Vicksburg, Mississippi - Warren Central Intermediate

"Mr. Price is an inspiration to all students. He actively engages his students in the classroom with his projects and encourage students to be leaders among their peers and communities."


Kimberlee Hellwinkel

Twin Bridges, Montana - Twin Bridges Public Schools

"Mrs. Hellwinkel is a dynamic and impactful instructor. Students know that she cares about them because she makes them feel safe and gives them the the confidence to pursue their education."


Maggie Murphy

Piney Creek, North Carolina - Piney Creek School

"Ms. Murphy teaches her students to be better people through global citizenship. All students in her class are taught that they have a voice that they can use to impact the world."


Trevor Todd

Wilmington, North Carolina - Castle Hayne Elementary

"Mr. Todd is a dedicated and a caring educator who fully embodies the Sanford Harmony program. He works hard to bring in culturally diverse and relevant instructional materials into his lessons."


Shawn Krinke

Hunter, North Dakota - Northern Cass Public School

"Mr. Krinke has worked hard to develop trust amongst his learners, and once he has established trust his ability to reach learners through books and readings is outstanding."


Sara Voinovich

Lincoln, Nebraska - Kahoa Elementary School

"No matter the need, Ms. Voinovich believes in her students and believes it is her responsibility to make sure they experience success and gain the skills necessary to be successful in life, including personalizing each student's learning plan."


Jim Hansen

Nashua, New Hampshire - New Searles Elementary School

"Mr. Hansen is committed to teaching kids to think in innovative ways, while empowering their creativity with out-of-the-box activities."


Kelly Wilbert

Toms River, New Jersey - East Dover Elementary

"Ms. Wilbert consistently finds ways to help her disabled students excel in language acquisition and their behavioral goals. Over the last two years, she has been a huge supporter of the school becoming fully inclusive. Her present and past students all know that she is willing to support them through any challenge is and that is why she is successful in the classroom."


Carrie Massey

Animas, New Mexico - Animas High School

"It is unbelievable to watch Ms. Massey engage with students and witness how motivated students are by her innovation and energy in our small rural community."


Darci Miller

Las Vegas, Nevada - C.P. Squires

"Ms. Miller is empowering our students to become well-rounded individuals who are conscientious and always thinking of others."


Melissa Morris

Brooklyn, New York - James Madison High School

"Ms. Morris has transformed our Title 1 community of 4,000 students to truly take a step back and look at each child and their needs. She is without a doubt a true educator who never stops thinking out of the box to help children become the next best them."


Jennifer Flaherty

Kent, Ohio - Theodore Roosevelt High School

"Ms. Flaherty is an incredible educator and consistently builds upon our professional development themes of empathy and connection, always looking at different areas where students can feel better about themselves."


Janessa Bointy

Edmond, Oklahoma - Sunset Elementary

"Ms. Bointy has supported the implementation of Sanford Harmony resources for each of our classroom teachers and continues to be a champion for families and children in our community."


Crystal Salmi

Warrenton, Oregon - Warrenton Grade School

"Ms. Salmi goes above and beyond for her students, cares about their social emotional needs, and she connects with her students and their families."


Sarah Beverly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Henry C. Lea Elementary School

"Ms. Beverly's students evolve in her class, becoming aware of the world around them, developing a deeper understanding of persuasive arguments, and growing as generous, thoughtful human beings."


Lynne Smith

Providence, Rhode Island - Nathanael Greene Middle School

"Ms. Smith is a team player and always has the student at the center, leading physical and mental health and wellness iniatives to ensure that our students are socially and emotionally safe."


Jo Warr

Florence, South Carolina - Southside Middle School

"Ms. Warr is a daily inspiration to her students by modeling for them that through perseverance and positivity, success is inevitable. She encourages and nurtures middle school students during a time in life when peer pressure and daily challenges are common."


Darla Kannas

Watertown, South Dakota - Roosevelt Elementary School

"Mrs. Kannas is a relentless learner and advocate for all students in her classroom. She partners with families to support children going through hardships and she has a burning desire to move students forward with academic achievement and social-emotional growth."


Melissa Collins

Memphis, Tennessee - John P. Freeman Optional School

"Dr. Collins is always student centered and leverages anything she can to expose her students to new opportunities and to be more aware of their backgrounds and hertigage."


Shaughn Thomas

Missouri City, Texas - Missouri City Middle School

"Mr. Thomas goes above and beyond to reach our students and make learning engaging and meaningful."


Deborah Sheffield

South Weber, Utah - South Weber Elementary

"Ms. Sheffield has made it her personal mission to ensure that ALL of our students are taught the necessary social and emotional skills to make our world a better place."


Jill Harrell

Henrico, Virginia - Gayton Elementary

"Ms. Harrell is a tremendously student-centered teacher who differentiates the needs of her students academically as well as socially and emotionally. She carefully develops a classroom culture that is inclusive and supportive to all students."


Lyn Porter

Williston, Vermont - Allen Brook School

"Ms. Porter works beyond her classroom walls to promote a healthy working environment for her colleagues."


Dana Henry

Federal Way, Washington - Lake Grove Elementary

"Ms. Henry teaches students the art of being courageous at accomplishing their goals."


Mary Wentland

Minocqua, Wisconsin - Lakeland Union High School

"In the classroom, Ms. Wentland has mastered the difficult skill of blending a safe, caring environment with rigorous academic activities for her students. Beyond the classroom, she shares her knowledge and abundant experience with other professional educators around the country. Mary Wentland is a true gem in the educational field."


Karla Hilliard

Martinsburg, West Virginia - Spring Mills High School

"Ms. Hillard inspires students to learn, to be successful, and to feel accepted and be challenged. She goes above and beyond for her students. There are not many teachers like her."


Kinley Taylor

Thermopolis, Wyoming - Ralph Witters Elementary

"When you have a conversation with Ms. Taylor about education, you can tell from her care and cutting-edge ideas that she is meant to be a teacher and above all else a Kindergarten teacher."

Like all the dedicated teachers around the country, Sanford Teacher Award winners have been working hard to adapt to difficult challenges and support their students with SEL and distance learning. Follow Sanford Inspire news for stories about these inspirational teachers and the creative and compassionate ways they bring positive change to their communities.

Coming soon - the announcement of the 2020 Sanford Teacher Award Grand Prize Winner who will win a total prize of $50,000!

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