Breaking Traditions Awards

Breaking Traditions Winners 2019

The Breaking Traditions Awards are sponsored by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in order to recognize outstanding non-traditional career and technical students and the adults who support them.

Promote your nontraditional programs and recognize your outstanding students!

  • Simplified Application
  • Scholarship Opportunities 
  • Statewide Recognition
  • All nominators will receive award certificates that can be displayed to promote their school and program.

For each nontraditional career-technical program, every school may submit:

  • One Secondary Student (12th grade only); and
  • One Post-Secondary or Adult Student

Use the state Perkins Nontraditional Careers List to determine which occupations qualify for Breaking Traditions award. This is the same list used for Perkins accountability reports.

Award Winners

2022 Winners

  • State Award Secondary Female Winner: Emily Worman- Grand River Technical School, Building Trades
  • State Secondary Male Winner: Kevin Crooks- Kirksville Area Technical Center, Pathways to the Teaching Profession
  • State Post-Secondary Female Winner: Sariah Reed-Ozark Technical Community College, Drafting/Design Technology and Welding Technology
  • State Post-Secondary Male Winner: Robert Smith-  Jefferson College, Radiologic Technology
  • Daphne Spirit Award State Winner: Olivia Schiffer- Power Equipment Technology, Lewis and Clark Career Center
  • Daphne Post-Secondary Spirit Award: Paul Vestal II- Nursing, Mineral Area College

Past Award Winners: 2021 | 202020192016 | 201520142013 | 2012 

Daphna Jones Spirit Award

Determination and hard work are important skills for students, especially nontraditional students. One student who epitomized these qualities is Daphna Jones. Daphna, an architectural drafting student at Jefferson College and a 2004 Breaking Traditions state award winner, died on October 4, 2004. Daphna attended school despite suffering a stroke in February of 2002 and a heart attack in the summer of 2003. She was a single mother who worked full time and still found time to pursue her degree.

In class, Daphna worked with persistence, willpower and tenacity. She ranked in the top five percent of her class and served as a mentor and role model for the other students. Despite her health problems, Daphna did not ask for special treatment or help. The pursuit of her dream of being able to build things to give back to her community was why she continued attending classes despite the setbacks. All her life, she loved building things and it was her ultimate goal to use her talents to help others. While attending Jefferson College, Daphna had very high medical expenses. This forced her to sell her home and her car, but she continued to work toward her dream. Daphna was rewarded for her hard work with a Breaking Traditions state award. The recognition served as more motivation for her to succeed and boosted morale for both her and her family.

Despite all her struggles, Daphna had a delightful personality. Her instructors, counselors and fellow students agreed that she was very likeable. She showed incredible courage and was always willing to help anyone who needed it. In honor of Daphna, an award was added to the Breaking Traditions contest. It is called the Daphna Jones Spirit Award. This award will be presented to a person who exemplifies the unbreakable spirit of Daphna, someone who has overcome undue hardships, braved harsh obstacles, stood courageously against troubles, and has had the tenacity to surpass all the odds. All Breaking Traditions applicants will be considered for the award. No special application is necessary.

Breaking Traditions Winner Recognition

Winners in the Breaking Traditions awards contest will be notified the first week in March. Winners will receive the following recognition.

Student State Winners

  • Award Trophy And Certificate
  • Statewide Publicity

Educator State Winners

  • Award trophy
  • Statewide publicity

Student Spirit Winners

  • Award trophy and certificate
  • Statewide publicity

Employer State Winner:

  • Award trophy
  • Statewide publicity

Student Regional Winners

  • Certificate
  • Regional publicity

Nominators of State and Spirit Winners:

  • Certificate  

Student Honorable Mention Winners:

  • Award certificate
  • Local publicity


Nomination Information

Nominations for 2021 are closed. Questions may be sent to

The Breaking Traditions Awards are an annual recognition of outstanding nontraditional career education students and the educators and employers who support them. The competition names state and regional winners. State winners are eligible for scholarships.

Who can be nominated?

  • Secondary students (12th grade only)
  • Postsecondary students
  • Adult students
  • Educators (career and technical)
  • Employers (nontraditional employment)

Who cannot be nominated?

  • Students participating in short “exploratory” career and technical courses.
  • Previous state winners.
  • High school juniors (11th grade students).

Nomination guidelines

  • Each school may submit one secondary student and one postsecondary/adult student nominee per career-technical education program.
  • For example, an institution may have as many as 20 different career-technical education programs, resulting in the nominations of 40 students – two per program, one secondary and one postsecondary. 
  • Use the state Perkins nontraditional careers list when determining whether a student qualifies for the Breaking Traditions award. You can find the list on the Breaking Traditions website and the DESE website. This is the same list used for Perkins accountability reports.
  • Students may not nominate themselves.  Only school officials can nominate students for the awards.
  • If a nominator does not wish to choose between two students in the same career-technical program, have both students fill out the awards materials.  Then have the appropriate school official(s) choose a winner.

Enrollment requirements

  • Students must attend a state-funded public high school, area career-technical school, career center, public community college or two-year college.
  • Students must currently be enrolled in a state approved, preparatory, career-technical education program that is nontraditional for his/her gender.

What does nontraditional mean?

  • Nontraditional students are defined as those studying for careers that are traditionally chosen by the opposite gender.  The phrase does not refer to older students returning to school.
  • A nontraditional female student is enrolled in a career-technical program that has a male population of 75 percent or more.
  • A nontraditional male student is enrolled in a career-technical program that has a female population of 75 percent or more.
  • The list of careers and programs that are considered “nontraditional” for both genders is available on this website and the DESE website. This is the same list used for Perkins accountability reports.
  • Your Career Advisor may also provide assistance.  Their contact information is included on this website.

Nomination Forms