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ISBE Recognition

Since 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has sponsored the Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year program to honor educators who have made significant contributions to our state's public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. Awards are presented in seven categories: classroom teachers, early career educators (teachers 1-4 years), school administrators, student support personnel, educational service personnel, community volunteers, and teams. 
Nominations for 2024 are now closed

Nominations for 2024 are now closed

Join ISBE in celebrating the accomplishments of stellar educators across the state by nominating your colleagues and community members for the 2024 Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year Awards. Anyone may submit nominations, and there is no limit to the number of nominations that can be submitted by a person, school, or district. It takes only five minutes to submit a nomination that could lead to your staff and schools being recognized with the highest educational honor in the state.

Nominations are optional and only upon successful completion of the subsequent application materials by the applicant will applicant be eligible for an award. 

Professional Categories: 

  • Teachers - Teachers with five or more years of teaching experience (including the current school year)
  • Early Career Educators - Teachers with less than five years of experience (including the current school year)
  • Administrators - Superintendent, principal, assistant principal, etc.
  • Student Support Personnel - School nurse, psychologist, social worker, school counselor, speech/language therapist, dean, librarian, etc.
  • Educational Service Personnel - Aides/paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians, administrative assistants, support professionals, bus drivers, resource officers, etc.
  • Community Volunteers - Parent teacher association members, school board members, or any individuals not employed by the school/district, who positively contribute time and energy to their school/district
  • Teams - A group of individuals from any combination of the above categories that positively contributes time and energy to their school/district
nomination/application process

nomination/application process




  • All application materials need to be submitted to ISBE by 11:59pm on October 15th to be eligible for an award.
award types

award types

Award of Special Recognition

  • Connected with their school community and made a positive impact. Those who work closely with these educators can attest to their skills, passions, and talents.

Award of Meritorious Service

  • Shaped their school community for the better. These educators frequently employ their talents and passions, but also strive to be of service in unfamiliar domains. They have taken on leadership opportunities and their accomplishments are known and valued by multiple populations: colleagues, students, parents, and school leaders.

Award of Excellence

  • Greatly improved their school community by advocating for positive change and have shared opportunities for improvement with colleagues. These educators are lifelong learners, striving to partner with and be of service to all students, staff, and community members. They regularly collaborate with colleagues, students, parents, and school leaders across all departments and teams. These educators have become an integral member of their departments and larger school culture.
ISBE Recognition Archive

ISBE Recognition Archive