John Meixner, Regional Superintendent of Schools
Fulton | Hancock | McDonough | Schuyler

ISBE seeking nominations for Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel Awards

ISBE seeking nominations for Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel Awards

SPRINGFIELD – The nomination window opened today for the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) Illinois Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel awards programs. These annual awards recognize the incredible work of teachers, administrators, school support personnel, teams, and community volunteers who have made significant contributions to Illinois' students. ISBE is encouraging every Illinoisan to consider nominating someone in education who has had a major impact on their life.

These awards take on extra significance this year. Teachers have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of their students, including navigating remote learning and the daily pressures of teaching during a global pandemic. School support personnel, such as school nurses, counselors, custodians, and nutrition professionals, have been essential to promoting the well-being of Illinois’ students, physically and mentally. The Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel awards recognize these extraordinary efforts.

“Illinois teachers have long done the heroic work of championing our young people, showing them how to believe in themselves and their abilities,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve gone above and beyond time and time again, from hand-delivering homework packets to inventing creative Zoom lessons to guiding their students through the loss of a loved one. And our teachers have done all this while navigating the uncertainties of the last year for themselves, too. More than ever, this is the year to nominate someone in your school community for the work they’ve done to make a difference in our children’s lives. Our teachers may be superheroes, but they’re human, too. Let’s offer them a big thank you every way we can.” 

“I am amazed every single day by our incredible educators,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “During this pandemic, our educators have overcome tremendous challenges for students. Working in education is the most fulfilling and rewarding career – but that doesn’t mean educators don’t need to hear ‘thank you.’ We encourage everyone to think about someone in their school community who is making a positive impact on students and thank them by nominating them for an award.”

"Taking the leap of faith and deciding to go through with the application process was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life,” said Justin Johnson, the 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year. “I have met so many amazing people and there are so many doors that have been opened for me to advocate for my students and other teachers. I will never forget the feeling of being announced as 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year".

ISBE is seeking nominations for:

  • 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year (public and nonpublic school teachers with five or more years of experience) -- ISBE will recognize 10 Regional Teachers of the Year, then select the 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year from among these finalists.

    From the nominees for 2020 Illinois Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Early Career Educators, ISBE also will name the:
    • Bilingual Teacher of the Year
    • Early Childhood Teacher of the Year
    • Special Education Teacher of the Year
    • Outstanding Early Career Educator (teachers with one-four years of experience)
    • Those Who Excel Administrator Award
    • Those Who Excel Team Award
    • Those Who Excel Community Volunteer Award
    • Those Who Excel Student Support Personnel Award (school nurse, psychologist, social worker, school counselor, or speech/language therapist)
    • Those Who Excel Educational Service Personnel Award (aides/paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians, administrative assistants, bus drivers, and resource officers)

ISBE typically honors all of Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel awardees at a red carpet banquet in the fall. This past year, ISBE surprised the Regional Teachers of the Year and other Teachers of the Year on Zoom and celebrated all of the award winners with plaques and yard signs.

ISBE will accept nominations for Teacher of the Year through April 23. When a teacher is nominated, they will receive a link to complete the application. The deadline to submit applications for both Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel is May 21. ISBE will name awardees in late summer. 

Learn more about the Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel program requirements and submit a nomination at

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