Teacher Recognition Ceremony
JESNA, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life encourage the recognition of all teachers in each community. It is a meaningful experience for teachers to be recognized by the parents, students, administrators, colleagues, and community members who know their important contributions to the community first-hand. We encourage you to plan your teacher recognition ceremony not only for your Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award winner, but also for all Jewish educators in your community.
Frequently Asked Questions - Teacher Recognition Ceremonies
Where should we hold our ceremony?
Each community has different feelings about what works. For example:
- At the central agency or federation. Most members of the community are comfortable with this common space. In addition, utilizing this space saves the cost of renting a room.
- Each year the event rotates to a different synagogue or school. Many communities will hold their ceremonies in the home school or synagogue of the Educator of the Year.
- In a hotel ballroom or hall. This is a neutral, special location and allows for flexibility with respect to different programs and different size groups.
Who should be invited to attend the ceremony?
The answer to this question depends on the size of the space and the number of people in your community. However, it is always best to invite as many people as possible to give teachers the widest recognition. Be sure to invite all teachers and principals, agency executives and board members, and any guests of the teacher being honored. If possible, open the event to the entire Jewish community, including parents, students, and synagogue lay and professional leadership.
What is a good structure for the ceremony?
The structure depends mainly on community preference, size, and budget, but some structures work better than others. Whether held at an annual agency meeting, a luncheon, dinner, banquet, or reception, the following are key components of a recognition ceremony:
- A d’var Torah offered by a local rabbi or community leader
- Speeches by colleagues and/or students of the award-winning teacher
- A keynote address by the award-winning teacher
- Presentation of certificates/gifts/award money (donors often make the most appropriate presenters)
In addition, some communities have conducted successful workshops or professional development seminars following the ceremony so that many teachers attend the ceremony and so that all benefit.
- Don’t be afraid to try new ideas when creating a plan for your ceremony. Communities have done everything from picnics to afternoon tea with great success because of the uniqueness of the ceremony. The keys to a good ceremony are focusing on honoring the Awards Winner and having fun!
How many teachers should be honored at the ceremony?
This varies depending on the size of the community. Most communities have an "Educator of the Year" award and also honor retiring teachers. Some communities present creative teaching awards and recognize teachers who have reached “Chai” (18 years teaching) or double “Chai” (36 years teaching). Some communities honor one teacher from each school, while some single out one teacher of excellence from among the whole community. Teachers who have participated in significant continuing education or professional development opportunities are often recognized.
Your community may honor as many teachers as it wishes. Please note, however, that 2011 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards nominations from local communities (excepting the Greater New York and Los Angeles Metropolitan areas) are limited to one (1) outstanding educator. Consideration of nominees will proceed on a first-come, first-reviewed basis to a maximum of 55 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards winners.
How should we honor teachers? What if my community has limited funds with which to present teachers with gifts?
Many communities will present the Educator of the Year with a significant cash prize either for his or her own personal use, a trip to Israel. or professional development. Gifts of Judaica, books, or some kind of plaque are all meaningful ways to honor teachers who have reached a milestone year. A small cash prize to buy materials or a trip to an in-state educational conference is an appropriate and affordable way to honor creative teachers. Each teacher being honored should receive a certificate and a copy of that certificate should be sent to his/her school.
In order to assist communities with gifts for recognition, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, and JESNA will provide communities with an engraved plaque, a Face Book with information on all of the year's winners. Another relatively inexpensive way to honor all teachers is to provide them with corsages or boutonnieres to wear during the ceremony.
It is important to make this ceremony personal for the teachers being honored. Have people who know the teacher give speeches and present the award, inscribe books, engrave Judaica, present a slide show of the teacher. Ask students to write letters to their teacher and present the book at the ceremony.
Role of the Community
Central Agency for Jewish Education/Federation Executives
The community administers the local Awards process. Each community (for the purpose of these Awards, a community is defined as the area served by a federation) will provide at least $1,000 towards each Award.
Central agency and federation executives are responsible for disseminating the Awards materials to their local educational institutions. These materials can now be found on this website. JESNA recommends that you publicize the Awards throughout your community. If you need assistance with publicity materials, please contact JESNA.
Agency executives should create a local deadline for the Awards applications. Once the applications have been submitted, please form a selection committee to decide on your community's nominee(s). Nominations from local communities (excepting the Greater New York and Los Angeles Metropolitan areas) are limited to one (1) outstanding educator. Consideration of nominees will proceed on a first-come, first-reviewed basis to a maximum of 55 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards winners.
In order to aid in the local selection process, nominators are asked to identify a teacher of excellence in one of the following categories:
- Day school teacher (grades K-8)
- Day school teacher (grades 9-12)
- Congregational school teacher (K-8)
- Congregational school teacher (9-12)
- Early childhood educator
School Principals and Administrators
It is the job of school administrators to select one classroom teacher from their school to nominate for these Awards. Principals and administrators are asked to select the teacher who they feel most exemplifies a teacher of excellence. The teacher must be from one of the five approved categories. You may form a selection committee of people to help you or make the decision yourself. The next step is to complete Part A of the application and have the nominated teacher complete Part B. In addition, you will need to have a supporting nominator complete Part C. Once you and/or your committee have chosen someone to nominate from your school, you must forward Parts A, B and C back to your central agency for Jewish education/federation contact by the date which they have chosen. These materials can be found on this website.
For more information, please call your local central agency for Jewish education. If your community does not have a central agency, please call your local federation. Click here to see a directory of central agencies. Click here to see a directory of federations in each community.