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The CEC Teacher of the Year Award


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CEC is grateful to Let's Go Learn for its generous support of the Teacher of the Year Program


The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a professional association of educators dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and empowering education professionals who work with individuals with disabilities by:

  • Advocating for education professionals and for individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents
  • Advancing professional practice and scholarly research
  • Promoting diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility
  • Building networks, partnerships, and communities
October 23, 2023
Award type:
Presented by:
CEC National

Award Details:

The CEC Teacher of the Year Award recognizes a CEC member teacher who currently provides instruction to students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents and is an outstanding member of the profession. His or her work exemplifies the best in special education teaching and reflects significant, documented positive outcomes for students, continued professional development, and the highest standards of educational quality.   

    The CEC Teacher of the Year Award recipient must: 

    • be a CEC member at the time of nomination and granting of the award;
    • demonstrate CEC’s core values, which are:  
      • Visionary Thinking: Demonstrated by forward-thinking and courageous decision making dedicated to excellence and influence in an evolving environment
      • Integrity: Demonstrated by ethical, responsive behavior, transparency, and accountability
      • Inclusiveness: Demonstrated by a commitment to diversity, caring, and respect for the dignity and worth of all individuals
    • currently provide direct services to students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. 
    • hold professional certification in the area in which he or she provides services. 
    • engage in work consistent with CEC’s mission statement, as stated above. 

    Nomination Instructions

    • Nominations must be made by an individual who is currently, or has, been employed in the field of education/special education, or CEC-affiliated organization (i.e., Unit, Local or Student Chapter, Division, or Subdivision) that has direct knowledge of the nominee’s work supporting students and teachers, as described above.
    • Self-nominations are not accepted.
    • All nomination materials must be submitted online by 12:00 pm Eastern, October 23, 2023.  
    • The nomination form is available at    
    • Supporting materials can be uploaded into the online nomination form as PDF (strongly preferred), doc, docx files or video link. If you are unable to upload any documents, please email them to Sharon Rodriguez. Alternatively, responses can be typed into the online form.
    • Please use file name(s) to clearly indicate reference to the nominee and award. 
    • (e.g., “Smith_TOY_Award.docx” or “Smith_TOY_Nomination.docx”).
    • All materials become the property of CEC and will not be returned.
    • Posthumous nominations are NOT accepted. 


    Required Materials 

    The nomination is divided into the following sections: 

    • Nominee’s Work 
      • Describe how the nominee's instructional practices or programs result in an effective learning environment and how they are appropriate and individualized for students. Include any collaborative efforts with other teachers in which the nominee is involved. 
        • Letter word limit: 750 words
        • Video time limit: 5 minutes
      • Describe how the nominee provides an engaging environment for diverse students (e.g., different learning styles, disabilities and/or gifts and talents, cultural and/or linguistic differences). 
        • Letter word limit: 750 words
        • Video time limit: 5 minutes
    • Nominee’s Statement 
      • Describe a lesson or unit that defines you as a special education teacher. How did you engage students of all backgrounds and abilities in learning? How did that learning influence your students? How are your beliefs about teaching demonstrated in this lesson or unit?  
        • Letter word limit: 500 words
        • Video time limit: 3 minutes
    • Letter of Support 
      • Please include one letter/video of support from a colleague, supervisor, or other professional (separate from the nominator) documenting the nominee’s efforts in meeting the award criteria. 
        • Letter word limit: 250 words
        • Video time limit: 2 minutes
    • Vita/Résumé of Nominee 


    Selection Considerations 

    The CEC Honors Committee has the authority to give only one CEC Teacher of the Year Award annually or opt not to grant the award in any given year.


    Recipient Recognition and Benefits

    The Teacher of the Year Award recipient will be recognized, and receive a commemorative plaque, at an Awards Luncheon on Friday, March 14, 2023, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, during the CEC 2024 Convention & Expo in San Antonio, TX, and will be featured on the CEC website and in Teaching Exceptional Children, our research-to-practice journal.

      The award recipient(s) will be:   provided with complimentary registration to attend the CEC 2024 Convention & Expo, March 13 – 16, 2024, in San Antonio, TX.

    On behalf of the award sponsor, the recipient will also receive:

    • Travel to, and hotel accommodations at, the CEC 2024 Convention & Expo
    • A $2,000 cash award
    • A $1,000 “use how you choose” classroom grant


    CEC thanks Let’s Go Learn for its generous sponsorship of the 2024 Teacher of the Year Award.


    Nominate Online

    2023 Kristie Jo Redfering View Press Release  

    Kevin Crosby, M.A.,
    Kern High School District, CA

    View Press Release Watch Video
    2021 Srinivas Panela,
    Halifax County Schools, NC
    View Press Release Watch Video
    2020 Kelly Grillo    
    2019 Shelley Carney    
    2018 Sara Klug    
    2017 Polly Parrish    
    2016 Kathy Boisvert    
    2015 Helen T. Pastore    
    2014 Danielle Kovach    
    2013 Ashley Abercrombie Allardyce    
    2012 Hannah F. Ehrli    
    2011 Donald R. Devito    
    2010 Cyndi M. Chappel    
    2009 Gayle Solis Zavala    
    2008 Sheila Amato    
    2007 Susan Osterhaus    
    2006 Connie Miller    
    2005 Carol Dinsdale    
    2004 Debbie Metcalf    
    2003 Jane Humphrey    
    2002 Kelli S. Kercher    
    2001 Karen Voytecki    
    2000 Nancy Barnett    
    1999 Pat Beckman    
    1998 Terri Chasteen    
    1997 Frances B. Dibble    
    1996 Donald P. Butzko    
    1995 Brenda Jean Rice    
    1994 Matty Rodriguez-Walling    
    1993 Ann Baker Welch    
    1992 Sharon Hagan Gonder    
    1991 Muriel Drew Saunders    
    1990 Rosalie A. Dibert    
    1989 Norma J. Speckhard    
    1988 M. Beth Langley    
    1987 Mary Eleanor Coffield    
    1986 Judy L. Larson    
    1985 Mary-Dean Barringer    


    Last Updated:  29 August, 2023

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