An Award to Recognize Exemplary CMSD Teachers

In May 2016, partners at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation and the Cleveland Teachers Union launched the CMSD Excellence in Teaching Award. Read more about the award process or view frequently asked questions.

This award, intended to be an annual award, recognizes and rewards CMSD teachers who demonstrate instructional expertise, creativity and innovation in their classrooms; who make learning engaging, vibrant and relevant for students; and whose work and accomplishments set a standard of excellence for all teachers. Its purpose is to elevate the teaching profession, to motivate and inspire teachers, to allow teachers to share best educational practices with their peers, and to enhance the reputation of teachers in Cleveland.

In its first year, 201 CMSD teachers were nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award—by peers, principals, and academic staff. Teachers from 87 different schools were nominated, across all grade levels and subject areas. Nominated teachers were invited to complete an application for further consideration and also had to secure an endorsement from their current principal and a colleague of their choosing.

A diverse group of reviewers comprised of PreK–12 educators, higher education, philanthropy, business, community and civic representatives reviewed all completed applications. Each application had the teacher’s name redacted and was read by three reviewers. The top quartile was subsequently pulled for additional review, leading to the selection and announcement of the 10 winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award and 18 additional honorees. The award winners and honorees all attended a gala in November. Award winners each received a $5,000 award and committed to sharing their practice with their peers in the 2016–17 school year. They also received a commemorative award designed by a local artist. Honorees each received a $250 gift card and certificate.

Please help us find these exemplars of excellent teaching, recognize their work, reward and celebrate them, and share their impact and work.

Award Process

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    The Excellence in Teaching Award is a new award that recognizes and rewards CMSD teachers who demonstrate instructional expertise, creativity and innovation in their classrooms; who make learning engaging, vibrant and relevant for students; and whose work and accomplishments set a standard of excellence for all teachers. Its purpose is to elevate the teaching profession, to motivate and inspire teachers, to allow teachers to share best educational practices with their peers, and to enhance the reputation of teachers in Cleveland.

  • Whose idea was it to develop the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    It was a shared idea amongst the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, The George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation and the Cleveland Teachers Union. The CMSD had the idea to recognize and celebrate excellent teaching in the district as part of its continuum of teacher development efforts. The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation had the idea to celebrate the important work of the Cleveland Plan and the teachers who work every day to implement the plan. And the CTU had the idea of elevating the many great examples of excellent teaching and learning across the district that largely remains hidden behind classroom doors. It was truly a collaborative idea and effort.

  • Can only CMSD teachers be nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    Yes. The Excellence in Teaching Award was developed to highlight excellent teaching in the CMSD and to share excellent instructional practices across the district.

  • Will the Excellence in Teaching Award be an annual event?

    The Excellence in Teaching Award is intended to be an annual event, supported by The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation, as part of their investment in the CMSD and the Cleveland Plan.

  • How many people will win the Excellence in Teaching Award, and what will they win?

    Approximately 10 CMSD teachers will be recognized as winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award each year. These teachers will each receive a $5,000 award, subject to income tax withholdings. There are no restrictions on how teachers spend their winnings. As part of the awards, winners will commit to sharing their practice with their peers in the 2017–18 school year and beyond.

  • Who decides who wins the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    The review team for the Excellence in Teaching Award includes PreK–12 educators, higher education, philanthropy, business, community and civic representatives, and previous award winners.

  • How will the review team decide the winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    Reviewers will consider the strength of the nomination; the teacher’s application; principal and colleague endorsements; and teacher performance. Reviewers will also consider the extent to which the nominees, as individuals and as a cohort, can effectively share their practice with their peers in the 2017–18 school year and beyond, if ultimately selected as award winners. Each application will have the teacher’s name redacted and will be read by three reviewers (resulting in a double-blind review). Reviewer scores will be compiled and a total score assigned. The top scorers will be pulled for additional review, with reviewers reading each finalist application in the same double-blind format.

  • What requirements are there for winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    Throughout the 2017–18 school year, winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award will share their practice with their peers in order to improve instruction across the district. This requirement is flexible in terms of what a teacher does. Examples of sharing practice include posting sample lessons, writing and communicating about classroom practices, opening classrooms for observation, creating a blog, videotaping instruction, running workshops, etc. The Excellence in Teaching Award website will be the repository for this shared practice portion of the award, with winners asked to contribute to the website beyond the 2017–18 school year.

  • What if only one type of teacher—say, preschool teachers—win the Excellence in Teaching Award? How will that help me as a high school teacher in terms of sharing practice?

    Reviewers will make an effort to ensure that a cross-section of teachers (e.g. different grade levels, subject areas) are recognized each year so that teachers across the district can benefit from winner’s shared practices.

  • What if I know of a great CMSD teacher who did not receive the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    There are many great teachers in the CMSD. This process will identify some of them and surely miss others. Teachers can always be nominated in subsequent years.

  • Can a teacher be nominated more than once for the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    Yes. There is no limit as to how many people nominate a teacher, nor is there a limit to how many teachers a single person nominates.

  • Can a teacher be a winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award more than once?

    Once a person wins the Excellence in Teaching Award, she/he is not eligible for further awards for a period of ten years.

  • What if I am nominated and I don’t think I will get a strong recommendation from my principal?

    Principal recommendations are required for all teachers who complete an application, but are only one part of the deliberation. Nominated teachers will have the opportunity to describe their own work, as well as solicit an endorsement from a colleague of their choice.

  • Can I nominate myself for the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    We do not recommend that you nominate yourself for this award.

  • When and where is the Excellence in Teaching Award Gala?

    The award ceremony is planned for November 9th, at a venue in Cleveland yet to be determined. Stay tuned for updates.

  • Who will be invited to attend the Excellence in Teaching Award Gala?

    Award winners will be invited with a guest to the Excellence in Teaching Award gala to celebrate their work and achievements. Finalists and their guests will also be invited to the gala and recognized. In addition, representatives from the CMSD, The George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, the CTU and other partners will also be invited.

  • Who is paying for the Excellence in Teaching Award?

    The Excellence in Teaching Award is funded by The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation, as part of their investment in the CMSD and the Cleveland Plan.

  • What if I have more questions?