H-E-B is seeking teachers, principals, school districts, early childhood facilities, and school boards as nominees for the grocery chain’s annual Excellence in Education Awards, and there is only one week left to apply.
Honoring public school professionals whose leadership and dedication inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities, the awards offer a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
“Our CEO and Chairman, Charles Butt, is very passionate about education, and he is very aware that teachers have a very tough job in the classroom, not only in teaching students, but being there supporting them,” said Jill Reynolds, H-E-B’s public relations manager for the award.
The Excellence in Education Award is H-E-B’s way of recognizing great teachers and supporting public education in Texas.
“Charles feels like that’s one of the hardest jobs – to be a teacher – and he wanted a program put in place that really lets teachers know we appreciate them,” she said. “Teachers are well-known to not make a lot of money, and to let them know we really appreciate them, we put a monetary award in their pocket and also provide a matching grant to their school. … (Charles) started this program because he is very passionate about giving back to the community and recognizing and appreciating teachers for the work they do.”
Applicants may be wondering if they have what it takes to win the award.
The application asks nominees to provide written responses about education philosophy, learning experiences, and insights on issues facing educators in Texas.
A panel of judges in each category will review the applications and narrow the field to semi-finalists. From that pool, five regional judging panels composed of former winners, administrators, and university and community leaders not affiliated with H-E-B will select 40 teacher and principal finalists.
Reynolds said judges will be looking for teachers who are passionate about what they do and who go above and beyond to educate children in unique ways.
“We’re looking for their passion and what sets them apart from other teachers,” she said. “We started the nomination process over the summer. Anyone (can) nominate – any teacher, school district, or early childhood facility (can) go to the website and complete an application.”
Reynolds said while there have been as many as 1,000 applicants in the past, it’s too early to tell how many will apply this year.
The Excellence in Education Award will honor six teachers, including one elementary and one secondary educator, in one of three categories, depending on their years of service in their profession.
The Rising Star Award honors exceptionally promising teachers with less than 10 years of experience, while the Leadership Award honors teachers with 10 to 20 years in the classroom. Each winner will receive a $10,000 check for themselves and a $10,000 grant for their schools.
The Lifetime Achievement Award salutes teachers with more than 20 years of experience. These teachers will each receive $25,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools.
Whatever the teacher wins, the school will receive a matching award, Reynolds said.
Two principals – one in elementary and one in secondary school– will each receive $10,000 in cash for themselves and a $25,000 grant for their schools. The winning large school district will receive a $100,000 cash prize, and the winning small school district will receive $50,000. The winning Early Childhood Facility will receive $25,000, and a school board could be awarded up to $25,000.
Finalists and their schools will receive a cash prize of $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the category.
Three separate panels select eight school districts and five early childhood facilities as finalists, awarding $2,500 to $5,000 in cash prizes. Up to five school boards may also be recognized and awarded $5,000 toward the district they serve.
Additionally, one or more school boards may receive a special judge’s award totaling up to $25,000. Site visits are conducted to determine winners.
Teacher and principal finalists are invited to Austin May 1-2 for larger, statewide cash prizes totaling more than $400,000. A statewide panel of judges, not affiliated with H-E-B, conducts a personal interview with each finalist to select winners.
Last year, the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award amounted to more than $800,000 in cash prizes, gift cards, and grants. Since its inception in 2002, the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards program has awarded almost $7.5 million to Texas educators, schools, and districts.
For more information about the award and to apply, visit www.heb.com.
*Featured/top image: Lifetime Achievement Elementary category winner Connie Bagley of Crockett Elementary School in San Marcos, Texas, reacts to winning at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards at the Grand Sonesta Hotel in Houston, Texas, Saturday May 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.