By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Two dozen of Tupelo’s best educators will receive a hefty cash prize this spring.
The Association for Excellence in Education announced on Tuesday the creation of the “Achieving Excellence in Education Award,” which will provide a $1,000 cash prize to 24 teachers and one principal in the Tupelo Public School District.
Teachers must apply for these merit-based incentives and will be judged by a volunteer community committee and by the AEE board based upon six criteria. Awards will be presented during the teacher banquet at the end of the school year.
AEE President Brent Waldrop said the award will recognize Tupelo’s great teachers and show them the community supports them. It also will help the school district recruit and retain the best teachers, he said.
“We are extremely excited about this, and we feel like our teachers need to be rewarded for doing a good job,” he said.
All teachers and principals will be eligible to apply. They must submit a resume, outline their educational accomplishments, describe ways they have partnered with parents and the community and write an essay about how they have achieved excellence in the education of their students. Applicants must also submit a three- to five-minute DVD video of their best practices in the classroom.
“I commend AEE for taking this step and recognizing excellence in our teaching staff,” Interim Superintendent David Meadows said.
In addition to the new award, the nonprofit AEE organization will continue to award grants to fund classroom projects as it has done since the early 1990s.
Waldrop said the organization currently has about $85,000 in its budget. He said it will begin fundraising in January to solicit corporate and individual contributions to fund the new award program. The goal is to raise the $25,000 needed so all of the current funds can be used toward the grant program. Last year, the organization awarded about $80,000 in grants.
The deadline for teachers to apply for the Excellence awards is March 9. Winners will be able to use that money however they choose.