The 2018 Lawrence W. O’Toole Teacher Leadership Awards nomination period is now open. Applications are due April 27th, and winners will be expected to attend an awards ceremony in Boston on Friday, November 2nd to receive their awards.
The O’Toole Award winners will be classroom teachers at public high schools in New England. Award recipients will meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate that they have made student-centered approaches to learning a systemic part of their classroom practice (i.e. these educators don’t just occasionally offer student-centered projects for their students, it is ingrained in their pedagogy/practice)
- Demonstrate that they have been a champion around student-centered learning in their school or district. Teachers should demonstrate how they have served as advocates or organizers for student-centered approaches to learning not only in their individual classrooms, but throughout a school, district or community (ex. Encouraging others to take on the practice, championing policy change for student-center practice, serving as a coach around SCL, publicly sharing and disseminating their experiences around SCL), and clearly articulate a plan for continued advocacy around student-centered learning if they were to win the grant
- Nominees must be public high school teachers teaching in one of the six New England states (New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut).
- The Foundation is especially interested in hearing how teachers are not only using student-centered approaches to learning to increase student achievement, but also to address entrenched inequity in education and in society, including racial inequity.
- Teachers of color and teachers working in diverse and under-served communities are encouraged to apply.
From now until Friday, April 27th, the public is invited to submit nominations for teachers by following these nomination instructions.
- Follow the nomination instructions to submit your nomination (click here for the instructions);
Please make sure you submit the following two forms with your nomination:
- A letter of support from a public school/district or 501c (3) educational organization who will serve as the recipient of the $15,000 grant (click here for the letter of support) and;
- A write up from the prospective teacher nominee outlining how they would utilize the funds to continue their advocacy of student-centered approaches to learning at scale (click here for the proposal).
The O’Toole Awards will honor New England public high school teachers who have served as advocates for and champions of student-centered learning, and who have advocated for student-centered approaches to learning not only in their classroom, but at scale. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation will award up to 12 grants of $15,000 each to advance a teacher’s advocacy for student-centered approaches to learning at scale. From now until Friday, April 27th, at 12:00 PM EST, we are accepting nominations for teachers who have met the eligibility criteria below to receive an O’Toole Award.
Award winners will be announced the week of May 21, 2018, and winners will be expected to attend an awards ceremony in Boston on Friday, November 2nd to receive their awards. The Foundation will cover travel costs for award recipients.
Who is eligible to receive this award?
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation will award up to 12 O’Toole Awards of $15,000 each to a school, district or eligible non-profit organization to carry out the proposed work of the nominee. A nominee must be a classroom teacher working in a public high school in New England (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut).
I’m a teacher. Can I nominate myself?
Yes, if you meet the criteria for this award, you are able to nominate yourself.
Are teachers from charter schools eligible?
Yes, teachers from public charter schools are eligible.
How are you defining public schools?
Teachers are eligible for this award if they work at a public school as constituted by their state education agency.
What constitutes a teacher?
In order to receive the O’Toole Award, the teacher must have been a classroom teacher within the 2017-2018 school year. Teacher aids, paraprofessionals, district administrators, principals, and central office staff are not eligible. If a classroom teacher has administrative duties such as serving as a department head or coaching other teachers, they are eligible as long as they serve a portion of their employment as a classroom teacher.
I see that in order to apply for the award, I need to find the support of an organization that can serve as a grantee. What happens if I cannot?
In order to receive an O’Toole award, you must submit with your application a letter of support from an organization, school or district that will serve as the grantee for the award money. This is required in order to receive the award. The grantee organization can be the school you are working in or an outside nonprofit organization. The Foundation funds public entities such as districts and public schools and 501(c)3 educational organizations that fall under the tax designation 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) and have an education focus, as evidenced in their articles of incorporation. Due to the Foundation’s tax status, private foundations (described in section 509 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code) and supporting organizations (described in section 509 (a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) are NOT eligible grantees.
When will the school/district/organization receive the funds?
Funds will be distributed early into the 2018-2019 school year. The award itself will be officially be presented at an awards ceremony at District Hall in Boston, MA on the evening of Friday, November 2nd. Attendance at this award ceremony is strongly encouraged. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation will cover your travel expenses for this trip.
If a teacher is nominated by more than one person, will that give them an advantage?
Applications will be reviewed for quality and alignment with criteria, and not quantity of nominations.
Are past O’Toole winners and O’Toole runners up eligible for the 2018 awards?
No, they are not eligible.
My school/district had a teacher win an O’Toole award last year. Are other teachers from my school/district eligible this year?
Yes, as long as the individual teacher has not won an award in the past, they are eligible.
Can I submit nominations from multiple teachers? What if they are teachers in the same school/district?
You may submit nominations for as many teachers that meet the eligibility requirements, and it’s okay if they are from the same school/district, but please note that it is highly unlikely that we will award more than one grant to an individual school/district.
Who is reviewing the nominations?
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, along with some experts around student-centered learning practice, are reviewing the applications. All final decisions on award selections will be made by Foundation program officers and its President and CEO.
What do you mean by advocating for student-centered approaches to learning at scale?
We are looking for teachers who have not only implemented student-centered approaches to learning in their classroom, but who have served as advocates for student-centered learning, or pushed for the implementation of student-centered learning beyond their own classroom. Examples of this may include a teacher who has served as an advocate to push for policies that are supportive of student-centered learning, or remove policy barriers to student-centered learning; a teacher who has organized professional development or coaching opportunities around student-centered learning for other teachers; a teacher who has publicly shared their experiences around student-centered learning through media channels, such as writing frequent blog posts, op-eds, etc., among other activities.
How do you constitute underserved communities?
NMEF is committed to equity and providing assistance to schools, districts and communities with high concentrations of students that are underserved (e.g., students with low-income backgrounds, historically underserved racial and ethnic groups, ELLs, students with special needs, etc.).
What do you mean by teachers having made student-centered learning a systemic part of their practice?
O’Toole Award winners will demonstrate that student-centered learning is an ongoing part of their pedagogy and practice, as opposed to one-off events that are student-centered. To learn more about what student-centered practice looks like, explore the Educator Competencies for Personalized, Learner-Centered Teaching.
Is it required for teachers to answer the question around how their work is addressing inequities in education?
If you have additional questions about eligibility, please contact Chiara Wegener at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about submitting your application, please contact Stephanie Cheney at email@example.com.