Partnership to expand Tupelo teacher awards

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – At least 20 of Tupelo’s top teachers will be honored with a $1,000 bonus next fall.
The Association for Excellence in Education announced Wednesday it will provide $10,000 to expand the CREATE Foundation’s Teachers of Distinction program.
Since 1999, that program has recognized 141 teachers and 30 assistant teachers who have improved student academic performance, inspired students, demonstrated excellence beyond required duties, shown a commitment to improving their craft or served as ambassadors for the school district.
Winning teachers receive $1,000 gifts, and assistant teachers are presented $500. AEE, which raises money to support Tupelo schools, will co-sponsor the event with CREATE.
“We think it will be a really important boost to the program,” said CREATE President Mike Clayborne.
Last year, 12 teachers and two assistant teachers were named Teachers of Distinction. AEE’s gift will allow at least 20 teachers and two to three assistant teachers to be chosen this year. Also, past winners now will be eligible to win again after five years. Previously, educators were only allowed to win once.
“Partnerships like these allow us to recognize our quality teachers and help us to retain them,” said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden.
Students, parents, teachers, administrators or community members can nominate teachers for the award. Nominations can be made online at, and forms also are available at all Tupelo schools. Nominations are due May 31, and an outside committee chooses the winners.
AEE has long awarded grants to fund classroom projects, and last year the organization created the Achieving Excellence in Education awards, which also provided a $1,000 bonus to high-performing educators. Eighteen teachers and one principal received the initial rewards.
AEE President Brent Waldrop said the organization determined it would be better to combine that award with the Teacher of Distinction.
“We are both trying to accomplish the same goals,” he said.
This year, AEE also will award $67,000 in grants to teachers. Those will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on April 25 at Carver Elementary School.

Click video to hear audio