ISBE Seeking Top Teacher Award Nominations

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is seeking nominations for Illinois’ top teacher awards. ISBE’s Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel awards programs honor teachers, teams, administrators, community volunteers, and support personnel who have made significant contributions to Illinois’ students. Any person or organization may submit nominations.

ISBE also announced today three new awards to honor outstanding teachers in specific areas: the Bilingual Teacher of the Year award, Early Childhood Teacher of the Year award, and Special Education Teacher of the Year award. Additionally, for the first time, ISBE will select Regional Teachers of the Year from eight regions. The 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year, who will be in the running for National Teacher of the Year, will be selected from these 11 educators.

“Educators inspire, connect, and transform – not just the children they interact with, but their entire communities,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “The Those Who Excel and Teacher of the Year awards programs recognize the incredible work happening in and around Illinois schools, as the result of exemplary educators who far too often go unrecognized outside of their own schools or districts. We encourage everyone to think about someone at their school who is making a positive impact on students and nominate them for an award. This act of appreciation can truly make a difference.”

ISBE is aiming for a record number of nominations this year with a new streamlined online nomination portal. ISBE will announce the winners at a red-carpet banquet in the fall. Spread the word about the awards by sharing this video on social media with the hashtag #ElevatingEducators: Video Link.

“Through this opportunity, I am able to share my passion for teaching with current and future educators around the state,” said Eric Combs, the band director at Richland County Middle School who is the 2020 Teacher of the Year. “I believe education exists to enrich our lives and am grateful ISBE has programs in place to elevate our amazing educators. I encourage everyone to nominate an educator in their own community.”

ISBE is seeking nominations for:

2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year (public and nonpublic school teachers with five or more years of experience)

Regional Teachers of the Year

Bilingual Teacher of the Year

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year

Special Education Teacher of the Year

Outstanding Early Career Educator (teachers with one-four years of experience)

Those Who Excel Administrator Award

Those Who Excel Team Award

Those Who Excel Community Volunteer Award

Those Who Excel Student Support Personnel Award (school nurse, psychologist, social worker, school counselor, or speech/language therapist)

Those Who Excel Educational Service Personnel Award (aides/paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians, administrative assistants, bus drivers, resource officers)

Nominations open March 9 and close June 5. Learn more about the Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel program requirements and submit a nomination at