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WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program

Awards to Minnesota Teachers and Administrators to Recognize Excellence in Teaching and Inspiring Academic Success

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WEM Foundation

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Awards of $1,500 and awards of $15,000 to Minnesota teachers and school administrators to recognize excellence and commitment to student academic success. The deadline to nominate is December 8, 2017. Funding is intended to bring recognition to the often "unsung heroes" who meet the challenges of teaching in a variety of settings.

The WEM Outstanding Educator Award program honors educators in five areas:

The Teacher Achievement Awards
This award recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement. Candidates demonstrate exceptional command of their subject area; keep course content current by integrating new technology, research and innovations; support active, hands-on and continuous learning for all students; and effectively use differentiated instruction. They facilitate parental and community involvement in the classroom, incorporate student-developed goals and plans for achievement, display leadership and perform professional service outside of the classroom, and have commendable professional educational accomplishments.

The Academic Challenge Coach Awards
This award recognizes exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges approved by the Minnesota Academic League Council. Candidates demonstrate passion for students and the activity, encourage participation of students of all backgrounds and learning abilities, create a safe and harassment-free environment, and involve students in planning and decision-making. They uphold the ethical integrity of competition and model appropriate contest behavior at all times.

The Athletic Coach Awards
This award recognizes an exemplary coach of student teams that participate and compete in athletic sports endorsed by the Minnesota State High School League. Candidates display a passion for students and the sport, encourage participation of students of all backgrounds and abilities, create a safe and harassment-free environment, and demonstrate good sportsmanship. They uphold the ethical integrity of competition and model appropriate behavior at all times.

The Ethics in Education Awards
This award recognizes exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum. Candidates expose students to basic ethical principles to deepen student understanding, engage students in moral problem solving, stimulate dialogue, generate student moral action, and incorporate a well-designed and well-defined comprehensive standard of ethical behavior. They provide a bias-free assessment of students; foster autonomy and higher-level learning experiences; encourage families, staff and community members to partner in character-building efforts; and demonstrate leadership to enhance or restore values and ethics to school curriculum.

Excellence in Education Award
This award was created to celebrate and recognize superior contributions of educators whose leadership and dedication inspire a spirit of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities outside the traditional education system and classroom. Candidates for this award should exemplify the highest educational standards and methods by field practitioners. Qualities include, but are not limited to: professionalism and collegiality and the expertise to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities; dedication, knowledge and skill in a demonstrated distinguished educational practice; established high standards for themselves and their students, creating an environment conducive to learning; a commitment to students and their learning and has the respect and admiration of students, parents, community members and peers. (This award is not given every year and is awarded as a “lifetime achievement award.”)

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 144144

Estimated Size of Grant:

State honorees will receive a crystal apple and an unrestricted $15,000 gift at the awards brunch in the spring.

Regional honorees will receive an unrestricted $1,500 gift, trophy and the opportunity to compete in the state competition the following year.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Educators, administrators and academic challenge coaches from Minnesota public or non-public schools and educational institutions are eligible.

Nominees must have a current Minnesota teacher’s license for K-12 education. A Minnesota teaching license is not required for the Academic Challenge Coach category. A Minnesota teaching license is required for the Athletic Coach category.

Individuals with a current teaching license who are teaching in some capacity, whether full-time or part-time, may be nominated and are eligible to apply.

Administrators are eligible for an Ethics in Education award.

Pre-Application Information:


Judging Criteria:

Nominated educators are required to complete an application packet to become eligible for the Teacher Achievement, Ethics in Education and/or Academic Challenge Coach Awards. See Supporting Documents below.

The Excellence in Education Award follows a different process than the other three awards and is a "lifetime achievement award." It is not presented every year.

Semi-finalists are automatically eligible for the following year’s program. After one year’s time, prior semi-finalists must be nominated again to be eligible to apply. Those who have won a state award are no longer eligible to apply.

Synergy staff verifies credentials of the honorees and coordinates awards announcements by the end of May. Following the notification of the state honorees, regional honorees are notified by mid-June.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Synergy prefers you submit your application via email to

Applications will also be accepted by mail to:

Synergy & Leadership Exchange
2075 Lookout Drive
North Mankato, MN 56003

Phone: 507-389-2461
Fax: 507-389-1772

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota