The Great American Teach-Off
GOOD and University of Phoenix team up to recognize innovative elementary school teachers nationwide
American teachers run the gamut — strict, relaxed, fun, demanding, innovative and diverse. But one thing most of them have in common: They work hard, and they deserve to be recognized.
That’s exactly the premise behind The Great American Teach-Off, a contest launched this summer by GOOD in collaboration with University of Phoenix, which together will award a $10,000 grant to one exceptional elementary school teacher. Teachers can use this money on computers, field trips or other school endeavors.
The top 10 finalists recently have been announced. Each finalist is submitting a short series of videos in response to questions posted by GOOD, regarding their impact and teaching innovations. From October 3rd through October 30th, the public will be able to vote for the most innovative teacher on the GOOD website. Each week two teachers will be eliminated from the competition in an “American Idol”-style of voting. In early November, the contest winner will be announced.
Recognizing exceptional teachers who make a difference
“As one of the largest preparers of teachers in the United States, we wanted to participate in a program that recognizes excellence among our classroom teachers,” says Dr. Bill Pepicello, president of University of Phoenix. “They are helping to shape the future of America every day, and this is a chance to thank those who work to improve our system through innovation and dedication.”
The contest began this summer when people nationwide began nominating elementary (K-6) teachers who they believe are making a difference in their classrooms and with their students. Nominations were entered online, and the initial nomination submissions closed on Sept. 16. According to GOOD, an integrated media platform for people who want to “live well and do good” in the world, 385 nominations were received, which was beyond the organization’s expectations. Those submitting nominations — which included teachers themselves — answered essay questions about teachers’ teaching methods in the classroom, their involvement in the community and any extra time spent outside the classroom with students.
“GOOD has always existed as a platform to shine a spotlight on the most creative ideas, people and organizations moving the world forward. And, in a time in which it is commonplace to criticize and blame teachers for some of the educational challenges our children face, we decided to create The Great American Teach-Off in order to refocus some of that lens to all of the educators across the country who are making a real impact in their students’ lives,” said Ben Goldhirsh, co-founder and CEO of GOOD, in a press statement.
Having a say in the future of education
GOOD says another contest will take place in early 2012 for middle school and high school teachers (grades 7-12).
“Education is the foundation on which we will build the future of the United States,” Pepicello says. “It is important that we highlight what is working so that we can continue to build our academic infrastructure. Too often our classroom teachers do not receive the credit they are due for the extraordinary contributions they make to our country. It is my hope that contests like The Great American Teach-Off will lead to similar programs at all levels of our education system.”