06/11/2014 06:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Awards for Great Teachers


This post was originally published on the TNTP Blog.

At TNTP, we’re obsessed with great teaching. That’s why we founded the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, one of the largest monetary awards for practicing teachers in the nation, and the only one that exclusively honors teachers of low-income students. Through the Fishman Prize, we award four extraordinary teachers each year with $25,000 and a seat at a one-of-a-kind summer residency, during which they meet with education leaders nationwide and publish a collection of essays about their most essential teaching strategies. Meet this year’s winners and finalists here.

We believe it’s essential to recognize the work of our nation’s best teachers, to learn from their experiences, and to support them in their growth. We know we’re not alone. Many selective awards and fellowships across the country seek to celebrate great teaching and amplify the voices of practicing educators.

Unfortunately, information about these opportunities can sometimes be hard to find. To make things a little easier, here are 10 of our favorite awards and honors that are open to a wide range of teachers nationwide. These aren’t the only ones. But we hope you’ll share this list with excellent teachers you know—and email us if you see an award that we should consider adding.


1. America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals

Offered by: America Achieves
Award: One-year fellowship experience and stipend
Open to: PK-12 public school teachers and principals
Application process: Candidates may be nominated to apply, or may self-apply.
Deadline: For more information, contact America Achieves here.

America Achieves’ Fellowship for Teachers and Principals brings together 100 of the country’s most effective educators to provide their expertise in helping others improve student outcomes and in strengthening leadership and management at scale across the education system. By attending conferences and webinars, undertaking projects to create change for their students, schools, and communities, and speaking in public forums, Fellows share ideas, learn from thought leaders, develop skills, and advise policymakers on local, state and national education policies. The Fellowship also contributes to America Achieves’ work by helping to identify the most promising models in education and determining what’s needed to scale those models.

2. Fulbright Distinguished Awards for Teaching

Offered by: US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Award: Three or four months abroad to take classes at an international university, observe classes, participate in seminars at local schools, and complete a capstone project
Open to: US and international K-12 educators with at least five years of full-time teaching experience and a master’s degree (or currently enrolled in a master’s program)
Application Process: Candidates may self-apply.
Deadline: Applications typically open in late summer and close in early winter. To receive notifications for the next application cycle, sign up here

Founded in 2009, the Fulbright Distinguished Awards for Teaching Program offers educators of varying kinds (including guidance counselors, curriculum specialists, librarians and others) the unique opportunity to take part in an intensive professional development program for several months abroad. Throughout the school year, grantees embark on a journey that begins in Washington, D.C. and then sends them to one of eleven participating countries, where they work within their host countries’ local schools, study at a research center or university, and complete a capstone project that will enhance their learning and have practical applications to their teaching practices. Upon returning home, grantees share the knowledge and experience they gained while abroad with teachers and students in their home schools and communities. 

3. Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellowship

Offered by: Hope Street Group
Award: One-year fellowship experience with a $5,000 stipend
Open to: Classroom teachers and instructional coaches
Application Process: Candidates may self-apply.
Deadline: Applications typically open in early fall and close in late fall. To receive notifications on the next application cycle, email

Hope Street Group’s National Teacher Fellowship is a highly competitive opportunity for classroom teachers and instructional coaches from across the country who are passionate about contributing their ideas and expertise to help shape education reform. The program is designed to help participants learn new skills and provide them with the tools they need to advocate for local and national policy changes. Fellows are given opportunities to learn media skills and receive support in writing blog posts, op-eds and letters to the editor; meet directly with leading policymakers to share teacher views and to present educator-generated solutions; and receive invitations to national educator voice events.

4. Milken Educator Award

Offered by: Milken Family Foundation
Award: $25,000
Open to: Early to mid-career educators
Application Process: Candidates must be nominated by a panel appointed by their state’s department of education.
Deadline: Rolling 

For the past 27 years, the Milken Educator Awards have honored top K-12 educators around the country with $25,000 unrestricted awards. “Not an accolade for ‘lifetime achievement’ or the proverbial gold watch at the exit door, the award targets early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.” The Milken Educator Award recognizes several dozen educators a year, catching them by surprise when their names are announced at emotional all-school assemblies in front of cheering students, proud colleagues, distinguished officials and the media. Along with the monetary prize, recipients are invited to participate in professional development opportunities and to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of nearly 2,600 educators and leaders from across the country. 

5. National Board Certification

Offered by: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Award: Advanced certification
Open to: Educators with at least 3 years of teaching or school counseling experience
Application Process: Candidates may self-apply.
Deadline: Rolling 

More than 100,000 teachers have received this advanced teaching credential, awarded through an intensive, peer-reviewed process. Teachers seeking certification must analyze their teaching contexts and students’ needs, submit videos of their teaching, and provide student work samples that exhibit growth and acheivement. They must demonstrate a strong command of content, the ability to design appropriate experiences that advance student learning, the use of assessments to inform instructional decision making, and partnerships with colleagues, parents and the community. Teachers often describe the process of certification as a rewarding professional experience itself. Additionally, many school districts offer salary increases for National Board Certified teachers.

6. NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence

Offered by: National Education Association
Award: California Casualty awardees receive $2,500 to use in their classrooms. Horace Mann awardees receive $10,000. One NEA Member Benefits Award winner receives $25,000.
Open to: NEA members
Application Process: Candidates must be nominated by an NEA affiliate.
Deadline: Nominations typically open in the fall and close in late spring. More information is available here

Offered by the 3.2-million member National Education Association, the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize educators whose professional practice and advocacy for the profession are deemed exemplary. Dozens of educators are selected for the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence each year, which grant winners $2,500 each to spend on their classrooms. In addition, five nominees are selected for the $10,000 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence. These winners are then automatic finalists for the Foundation’s top honor, the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, a prize of $25,000. All awardees are honored at the annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, a special celebration of all who work in America’s public schools. 

7. Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Offered by: The National Science Foundation
Award: A certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip for two to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities in Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 award.
Open to: K-6th grade math and science (including computer science) teachers who have at least 5 years of teaching experience
Application Process: Candidates may be nominated to apply, or may self-apply.
Deadline: Nominations typically open in the fall and close in the spring. Applications typically close in late spring. 

It’s no secret that one of our nation’s major priorities in education has been to improve the teaching of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) were founded in 1983, and currently represent the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 math and science teachers. Up to 108 awards are given each year to teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. Since its inception, the award has recognized more than 4,200 teachers. 

8. Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching

Offered by: The National Museum of Mathematics
Award: $25,000 (winner) and $10,000 (runner-up)
Open to: Full-time 4th-12th grade math teachers
Application Process: Candidates may self-apply.
Deadline: Applications typically open in early spring and close later in the spring. 

Open to all math teachers across the country in grades 4-12, the annual Rosenthal Prize was designed by the National Museum of Mathematics to recognize and promote hands-on math teaching. Winners submit exceptional math activities that they use in the classroom to share with other math teachers around the country. Winning activities are innovative, engaging, hands-on, original and replicable. Only one winner and one runner-up are selected each year. 

9. Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship and Future of the Profession Fellowship

Offered by: Teach Plus
Award: One-and-a-half-year fellowship experience and a $2,400 stipend
Open to: Classroom teachers who have 2-10 years of teaching experience, currently teach at a public school where at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and are located in one of Teach Plus’ five sites or are members of the NEA (for the Future of the Profession Fellowship)
Application Process: Candidates may be nominated to apply, or may self-apply.
Deadline: Application deadlines differ between sites. More information is available here

Teach Plus’ Policy Fellowships seek highly effective K-12 classroom teachers united by their passion for teaching and the aspiration to modernize their profession so that more top-performing teachers will stay in the classroom. Through this program, Teach Plus demonstrates that teachers can influence education policy on a local and national scale. Throughout their cohort experience, Fellows meet in monthly sessions (in-person for site-based fellowships and virtually for the Future of the Profession Fellowship) that offer personal interaction with key education leaders; a challenging course of study in education policy, research and best practices from across the nation; and the opportunity to advocate for policies that will better serve students and retain excellent teachers. Originally a Boston-based program, the Fellowship currently engages about 150 Fellows in Chicago, Greater Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis and Washington, D.C., and more than 50 Future of the Profession Fellows, in partnership with the NEA, across the country.

10. Teaching Ambassador Fellowship

Offered by: US Department of Education
Award: One-year fellowship experience as either a Washington Fellow (paid full-time) or a Classroom Fellow (paid part-time)
Open to: PK-12 public school teachers with at least 5 years of teaching experience
Application Process: Candidates may self-apply.
Deadline: Applications typically open in early winter and close mid-winter. For email notifications on the next application cycle, sign up here

Initiated in 2007, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship was built on the belief that “teachers perform many vital leadership activities in classrooms and schools, but too often lack opportunities to contribute their knowledge to the development of education policy on a broader scale.” The Fellowship enables outstanding teachers to bring their classroom expertise to and expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education. Washington Fellows are selected to work for the Department of Education full-time in Washington, D.C., and Classroom Fellows are selected to work part-time from their home communities while they continue to teach. In assisting the Department, Fellows have the opportunity to learn about its programs, resources and policies, share this information with other educators, and provide their own and colleagues’ input into the Department’s work. 

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