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MN Accolades August 2021


Teacher Awards


Minnesota Teacher of the Year

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program, now in its 57th year, is the oldest and most prestigious recognition program in Minnesota to honor excellence in education. The program chooses one teacher to represent Minnesota's thousands of excellent educators.

Natalia Benjamin, a high school English learner and ethnic studies teacher at Century High School in Rochester, was named 2021 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. 

Eligible nominees must meet these criteria:

  • Teach in a public or nonpublic Pre-K through 12th-grade school or ECFE or Adult Basic Education program, working at least 50 percent of the time directly with students.

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree and a Minnesota teaching license.

  • Have completed five years of teaching by the nomination deadline.

  • Intend to teach for the full following school year after being named.

For more information, call Ashley Behrens at 651-292-4862 or 800-652-9073.

Nominations should be open in Fall 2021.


WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program

The WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program was created in 1998 by the WEM Foundation in support of teachers and their important role in helping all students achieve academically and seeks to bring recognition to the often "unsung heroes" who meet the challenges of teaching in a variety of settings. 

Synergy, in partnership with The Minnesota Service Cooperatives, administers the award program on behalf of the WEM Foundation. Educators, administrators and academic challenge coaches from Minnesota public or non-public schools and educational institutions are eligible.

2021 Program Dates

December 4, 2020 — Nomination Deadline
January 8, 2021 — Application Deadline
January 25, 2021 — Pre-Screen Panel Begins
February 26, 2021 — Blue Ribbon Panel
March/April 2021 — State Honorees Announced
May 2021 — Regional Honorees Announced
May 22, 2021 — WEM Awards Brunch

For More Information Contact - Leah Garry 507-389-5115



Music Educator of the Year Award 

Each year MMEA is proud to sponsor the Hall of Fame Awards and Music Educator of the Year Award to Minnesota music educators nominated by peers. The Hall of Fame Awards celebrates significant career contributions to music education in Minnesota. Music Educator of the Year for demonstrated excellence in music teaching and learning.

Your participation through nominating your colleagues and teachers is encouraged. Deadlines for nomination typically fall in June each year.  The deadline for 2021 has been extended to September 15. Nominations remain open throughout the summer.



ACTE Excellence Awards

The ACTE Excellence Awards recognize those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to CTE, programs that exemplify the highest standards and organizations that have conducted activities to promote and expand CTE programs. Award winners serve as inspirational leaders to ACTE: they embody the core values of serving their students and being committed to CTE. All ACTE Excellence Awards are presented at the ACTE Awards Gala.

There are eight (8) Excellence Awards.



National Board Certification

Every student deserves to be taught by an accomplished teacher. national board certification was designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide. It is the most respected professional certification available in K-12 education.



Minnesota Rural Educator (MREA) Awards

·         Educator of Excellence Awards

·         Innovation Award

·         Distinguished Service Award

Nominate an Educator

Nominations are due February 28. Honorees will be recognized at MREA’s Awards Ceremony & Banquet in November.

Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762-6574 or toll free at (833) MNVOICE.



Administrative Awards


Minnesota Superintendent of the Year Award

The Superintendent of the Year program pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead our state’s public schools. Any superintendent, chancellor, or top leader of a school system in Minnesota who plans to continue in the profession may be nominated.


The nomination deadline was Aug. 1, 2021.




Minnesota NAESP National Distinguished Principal® Award

The NAESP National Distinguished Principal® (NDP) Program was established in 1984 as an annual event to honor exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set the pace, character, and quality of the education children receive during their early school years.

The application and nomination forms for the 2022 NDP will be available this fall from NAESP.

Nomination forms will be due January 1, 2022 and the application will be due January 28, 2022.



Minnesota NAESP National Outstanding Assistant Principal AwardTM

Minnesota NAESP and MESPA are committed to preparing assistant principals to step into the principal role. We honor PreK-8 assistant principals who are doing a superb job in their roles. This program promotes educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade (PreK-8) schooling and calls attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal.

Nominate an assistant principal! Do you know an outstanding assistant principal? We will notify the nominee once the official NAESP application is available (fall 2021).

Applications due November 12, 2021: Applicants must submit a complete application, letters of reference, and a high-quality digital headshot. Application and additional details to come (fall 2021).



Minnesota Principals of the Year

Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals




School Awards

National Blue Ribbon School Recognition – Minnesota schools

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student group scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

The U.S. Department of Education usually announces the new National Blue Ribbon Schools in September of the year after a school's initial nomination. The recognition ceremony takes place in mid-fall.

Learn more about the National Blue Ribbon School Program



Green Ribbon Schools Program

The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to strive for 21st-century excellence by highlighting promising school sustainability practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. reduce environmental impact and costs;

  2. improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and

  3. provide effective environmental and sustainability education

Combined progress in ALL three of these areas, known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition.

Honored schools, school districts, and IHEs are announced each spring. The selectees are invited to a fall ceremony in Washington, D.C. where they receive a sustainable plaque; are the subject of media attention; and their efforts are celebrated.



MN School of Excellence Program

MESPA endorses schools whose principal, staff, students, and community -- working as a team -- demonstrate the desire to strengthen education by successfully undertaking the Minnesota School of Excellence program. This school improvement process is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. It involves a systematic program of self-study, development of a school improvement plan, and implementation of the plan based on demonstrated results.

Letter of Intent due October 29, 2021

Applications due June 1, 2022