National University Teacher Award Announces Top Inspirational Teachers Across The Country

Five regional winners recognized in Zoom’s surprise announcement; receive awards of $ 10,000, a full scholarship for the Masters in SEL at NU and are eligible for a national award of $ 50,000.

SAN DIEGO — November 17, 2021—In recognition of inspiring teaching nationwide, the National University Teacher Award identified the best inspiring teacher from five regions across the country. The awards were announced to teachers at a surprise Zoom meeting on Tuesday.

At a time of unprecedented challenges for teachers nationwide, the National University Teacher Award honors the top teacher in each region with $ 10,000 for supporting student development and success in inspiring and harmonious ways. It also offers the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to earn a master’s degree at the National University in Social and Emotional Learning, the first such program in the United States.

The award recognizes teachers who demonstrate high levels of inspiring teaching practice by engaging students, building student confidence, creating an inclusive environment, motivating students to succeed and giving them a voice. Each recipient teacher is now eligible to be named National University Teacher of the Year, a national award that includes a $ 50,000 prize. The winner will be announced at a later date.

The regional winners were selected by a committee of educators and professors based on an application process including professional information and videos provided by each teacher.

“Teaching is the essential job, the job that makes all the others possible. Teachers are the biggest influence on student learning in school and play an important role in helping students grow socially and emotionally as well as academically, ”said Dr Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the San Diego National University System, a nonprofit organization. with a 50 year history of educating adult learners and underserved populations. “The National University Teacher Award is a way for us to celebrate the contributions of inspiring teachers who give so much to their schools and communities and help children reach their greatest potential. ”

Regional winners of the 2021 National University Teachers Award include:

WHERE IS – Reagan duncan teaches English to learners at Maryland Elementary School in Vista, California. His school has been a Harmony SEL Showcase school for five years, in partnership with the Sanford College of Education at the National University. Reagan creates a music community to teach language development through song. She used SEL techniques to transform her classroom into a special place where students help and support each other. The effort transformed the classroom into a caring and safe space that emphasizes student strengths and instilled student confidence. During the pandemic, she also led book drives to provide ongoing access to needed learning materials.

SOUTH WEST – Eric Hale is a first and second grade teacher at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas, Texas. He describes himself as a teacher who lays the foundation for fluency in English, math, science and social studies while simultaneously increasing the social and emotional self-esteem of his students and their parents. He uses his personal understanding of poverty and trauma to guide students to excellence, regardless of the obstacles they face. He is a powerful advocate for all children, but especially those who grow up in poverty and trauma. He has been a leader and a strong fundraiser who has helped close the equity gap by raising over $ 100,000 for student projects. He uses this money to help students connect directly with prominent leaders and cultural and scientific agencies that enrich and expose students from disadvantaged backgrounds to the best learning opportunities Dallas has to offer.

MIDDLE WEST – Dr Maggie McHugh prides itself on teaching students how – not what – to learn at La Crosse Polytechnic School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Its educational philosophy helps students shape personalized educational experiences where they “learn from their mistakes, persevere by iteration, and reflect on growth.” Under his direction, each student designs a stimulating interdisciplinary project centered on a driving question that interests him personally. The process has led the students to complete fascinating projects that require them to familiarize themselves with every subject imaginable – such as the student who designs a luxury cruise liner that cleans up pollution from the ocean and has to study the oceans and the earth currents, apply engineering skills, investigate national and international laws, create scale models and communicate effectively.

SOUTH EAST – Melody Hawkins was, until recently, an eighth grade science teacher at Vine Middle School in Knoxville, TN. She is now an administrator at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Modeling her classes on the methods used to teach great scientists, she asked her students to do science and conduct experiments in an environment known for student voices, their free will and ensuring that students s ‘take ownership of what they learn. In fact, one of their eighth grade classes won a nationwide competition to transport an experiment they designed by NASA to space. She started a Grade 6 Virtual Summer Boost Camp where students learn science and social and emotional learning skills, including the value of community and positive peer and adult relationships.

NORTHEAST – Olivia leone, a special education teacher at PS 161, Juan Ponce of Leon School in the Bronx, New York, incorporates SEL into her daily teaching with special education students. When her school, the first charter school to adopt Harmony SEL in New York City, was forced to go fully virtual last year, she incorporated Harmony SEL strategies throughout distance learning to continue to build relationships. strong bonds with its students in any context. Deeply passionate about her work, Olivia went above and beyond to meet the needs of all of her students, and she used the Harmony program to help give voice and agency to students in special education through learning techniques. social and emotional.

The qualities embodied by these teachers reflect the mission of education-focused programs extended nationwide through the leadership of the private, not-for-profit national university system, home to the Sanford College of Education, one of the largest education schools nationwide and the first to offer a master’s degree in social and emotional learning. Education programs in the national university system include Harmony SEL, a pre-K-6 social and emotional learning program, which helps children develop their communication and collaboration skills and is available free to school districts and organizations. nonprofit, and the Pre-K-12 Inspire Teaching and Learning Program, which provides teachers with free research-based resources and online lessons to create inspiring classroom experiences.

The 2021 Fellows will join last year’s cohort of Fellows, continue to work with Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning, and receive training in communication and advocacy for inspiring teaching based on social and emotional development.

About the national university system

The National University System (NUS) is a network of accredited not-for-profit educational institutions serving a diverse student body, including K-12 students and working professionals. NUS institutions of higher education serve more than 45,000 students through National University, Northcentral University and Seattle City University. NUS education-focused initiatives include Workforce Education Solutions, Harmony SEL, Inspire Teaching & Learning, and Fundraising Academy Cause Selling Education. Learn more at

About Inspire Teaching & Learning and Harmony SEL

The national university system is a leader in social and emotional learning, leading a nationwide expansion of affiliate programs in the pre-K-12 sector. These programs include: Inspire Teaching & Learning, which offers research-based teaching methodologies and on-demand self-guided modules accessible online and free of charge to help teachers create inspiring learning environments and encourage students to succeed, and Harmony SEL, a pre-K-6 research-based social and emotional learning program that cultivates strong peer relationships among all students. Harmony SEL has been recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a quality program.

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