Since 1974, the Missouri State Board of Education and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have selected a few individuals to be honored as Missouri Pioneers in Education, in recognition of their distinguished careers and contributions to public education, either at the state or local levels.
The Pioneer awards are presented by the president of the Missouri State Board of Education and the commissioner of education during DESE's annual conference for school administrators.
More than 200 individuals have been named to the select group of Pioneers since the inception of the award. This select group includes outstanding and long-serving school teachers and administrators, dedicated local board of education members, college and university deans and presidents, and former legislators and governors.
Nominations for the Pioneer awards are welcome and may be submitted at any time. Selection is made by staff of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the commissioner of education, based on the criteria of unique contributions to public education in the state and/or distinguished and far-reaching careers in education.