Teacher of the Year Program

Teacher of the Year Process

Only Regional Teachers of the Year are eligible to apply for Missouri State Teacher of the Year. For more information on the application/nomination process for Regional Teacher of the Year, please read the “Overview” below and visit the Regional Teacher of the Year page.

Dates and Deadlines

  • December 1, 2023: Regional Teacher of the Year Nomination period opens: Nominate a Teacher
  • April 14, 2024: Nomination period closes
  • May 6, 2024: Regional Teacher of the Year application opens.
  • May 6, 2024: Regional Teacher of the Year Clinic is held
  • June 14, 2024: Regional Teacher of the Year application period closes. 
  • June 15 - July 15, 2024: Regional Teachers of the Year selected and Teacher of the Year application period begins
  • Teacher of the Year Professional Biography and Application Questions
  • Teacher of the Year Rubric (Application Review Form)
  • July 28, 2024: Missouri State Teacher of the Year application period closes. 
  • August - September 2024: Semifinalists, Finalists and Missouri State Teacher of the Year selected
  • October 21st 2024: Teacher of the Year Banquet


The major purpose of the Teacher of the Year program is to recognize the contributions of the classroom teacher. Teacher quality and effectiveness is the most important school-based factor impacting student learning. No one person has a greater impact on the education of a child than does the teacher who creates the learning environment where children flourish and grow. The mission of the Missouri Teacher of the Year Program is to honor, promote and celebrate excellence in the teaching profession.

Beginning with the 2015-16 year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education established a Regional Teacher of the Year recognition level to the Missouri Teacher of the Year Program. Through this addition, Missouri is able to recognize excellence in teaching at the school, district, regional and statewide levels. 

There will be two distinct routes that ultimately lead to the Missouri State Teacher of the Year Program. In some Missouri school districts, there is a building/district process that recognizes a district level Teacher of the Year. Other districts do not have a structured process in place for this recognition. Because one of the goals of the Missouri Teacher of the Year Program is to recognize highly effective teachers across the state, we want to acknowledge this difference and provide opportunities for all public and charter schools to participate. 

Routes to Missouri State Teacher of the Year

Route 1

Route 1 - 1. District Teacher of year chosen 2. District Teacher of Year submits app to regional teacher of year 3. Regional teachers of year submit app for MO State Teacher of the Year

For districts or charter schools that have a process in place to select a District Teacher of the Year, the addition of the Regional Teacher of the Year application and recognition will add an intermediary step in the process to the Missouri State Teacher of the Year recognition program.

Route 2

Route 2 Teacher of the Year Process

For districts or charter schools that do not have a process in place to select a Teacher of the Year, a nomination process will serve as the recognition at the building/district level. Teachers, administrators, community members, parents or even students will be able to submit a nomination form for a highly effective teacher; verification of the teacher’s eligibility will be obtained; and the teacher will be invited to submit a Regional Teacher of the Year Application. (Multiple Regional Teacher of the Year Applications from the same district/school will go through a pre-screening process prior to the regional recognition process. Each district/charter school is allowed one entry in the regional recognition process. Cuts will be made at the state level prior to transferring the Regional Applications to the Regional Service Centers.) 

The statewide competition is part of the National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target and is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with the University of Phoenix Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs.

Eligibility for Missouri State Teacher of the Year

  • Each teacher nominated must hold a valid Missouri Teaching Certificate and employed full-time at an approved/accredited school district.
  • The teacher must have plans to remain teaching in the classroom during and after their year as Missouri’s Teacher of the Year
  • The teacher must have demonstrated practice in effectively promoting student performance regardless of student background and ability.
  • The teacher must be highly respected by students, parents, colleagues, and the community.
  • The teacher must be an effective public spokesperson (articulate, poised, self-confident, etc.)
  • The teacher must be selected as Regional Teacher of the Year.
  • (Supervisory and Administrative responsibilities should be secondary to teaching. Principals and Assistant Principals are not eligible.)
  • If the teacher is a counselor or library media specialist, they must spend the majority of the school day (over 50%) in direct instruction to students.


A Highly Effective Teacher. . .

  • understands the central concepts, structures and tools of inquiry of the discipline(s) she/he teaches and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful and engaging for all students.
  • understands how students learn, develop and differ in their approaches to learning. The teacher provides learning opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners and support the intellectual, social and personal development of all students.
  • recognizes the importance of long-range planning and curriculum development. The teacher develops, implements and evaluates curriculum based upon standards and student needs.
  • uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students’ critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills including instructional resources.
  • uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages active engagement in learning, positive social interaction and self-motivation.
  • models effective verbal, nonverbal and media communication techniques with students and parents to foster active inquiry, collaboration and supportive interaction in the classroom
  • understands and uses formative and summative assessment strategies to assess the learner’s progress, uses assessment data to plan ongoing instruction, monitors the performance of each student, and devises instruction to enable students to grow and develop.

A Teacher Leader . . .

  • is a reflective practitioner who continually assesses the effects of choices and actions on others.
  • actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally in order to improve learning for all students.
  • engages in a variety of leadership roles.
  • has excellent communication skills.

A Collaborative Partner.....

  • has effective working relationships with students, parents, school colleagues and community members.
  • articulates about state and national educational issues.

Selection Process

A committee appointed by the department selects a winner according to criteria established at the national level. The selection committee includes, but not limited to: a school administrator, a representative from Missouri PTA, a school public relations specialist, a representative from the corporate sponsor, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, representative from each of the three teacher organizations, and the current and past Teacher of the Year. The selection committee meets during the summer to review candidates’ materials and choose the finalists. The committee interviews the finalists to select a winner.

The Teacher of the Year represents Missouri’s 70,689 teachers and automatically becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year honors. Only 46 individuals have been named to the select group of Missouri Teachers of the Year since the state began participating in the national awards program in 1957.

The Missouri State Board of Education honors the Teacher of the Year, state finalists and Regional Teachers of the Year at a banquet in Jefferson City. The Teacher of the Year awards are presented by the president of the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education. The Teacher of the Year and finalists also receive cash awards and other prizes.


The Missouri Teacher of the Year serves as a spokesperson and representative for all Missouri’s teachers. The following list is comprised of some of the duties that go along with the title:

  • serve as an advocate for students
  • working with state policy makers, business and community leaders, and others who shape public opinion to promote accurate perceptions of the realities of today’s classrooms
  • work with pre-service teachers
  • work at college/university career fairs to recruit young people to the teaching profession
  • speak with high school juniors and seniors advocating for the education profession
  • using his/her voice to help shape education policy at the local and state level
  • serving on state advisory committees
  • serve as conference and workshop presenters
  • serve as consultants
  • attend a variety of state education meetings
  • attend the National Teacher of the Year Conference
  • attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama
  • attend the Presidential Ceremony in Washington, DC to honor all state Teachers of the Year

The school district employing the 2024-2025 Teacher of the Year will receive reimbursement for substitute costs and the teacher will be reimbursed for travel expenses, mileage, and other meeting/conference related expenses.


Districts participating in the Teacher of the Year Program have found the program to have a positive impact on the entire community. Recognizing outstanding teachers: a) establishes a culture that rewards excellence in teaching; b) validates the work of teachers; c) provides teachers with a platform to speak about educational issues; d) gives students a sense of pride in their teachers; e) showcases teachers as positive role models; f) encourages students to think about teaching as a career; g) gives the community a sense of pride in its teachers; and h) helps to get the public involved and invested in the schools.

State-level honors for the Teacher of the Year include:

  • Cash award provided by Mr. William Wilder (Bill) Shaw
  • Recognition banquet sponsored by the Missouri State Board of Education
  • Recognition ceremonies with the governor and legislature
  • Reception sponsored by AFT, MNEA, and MSTA

National activities include:

  • Meeting with other state Teachers of the Year and state coordinators (expenses paid)
  • Attending International Space Camp (expenses paid)
  • Meeting in the White House Rose Garden when the National Teacher of the Year is announced.

Benefits of Adding the Regional Level:

  • Allows for greater participation by districts and charter schools
  • Promotes a positive image of education through greater public awareness
  • Identifies a pool of highly effective teachers in each region of the state
  • Rewards and honors effective teachers and teaching
  • Identifies effective teachers that could provide services regionally

For more information, contact Curtis Terry, Director of Educator Development (573-751-1941).