2016-2017 National Americanism Ambassador
Americanism: Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award
Do your children or grandchildren have a teacher who promotes civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism? Does the teacher plan field trips to city hall, organize community volunteer projects or invite local veterans to speak in class? Are they using the 2016 elections to help students understand the democratic process? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award is for them!
The VFW launched the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award in 1999 to recognize classroom teachers for promoting citizenship education. Three teachers, one from each of the following grade levels are selected as national winners:
Each national award teacher winner in their level receives:
- The Past Commander-in-Chief John Smart Award and $1,000.
- Their respective schools also receive a $1,000 award.
- They also receive a paid trip to the VFW National Convention to receive their award.
- NOTE: Winners will receive a 1099-MISC as a result of their award and all-expense paid trip.
Visit this link for more information and for a nomination form: http://www.vfw.org/TeacheroftheYear/
All about the Award
- All current classroom teachers (teaching at least half of the school day in a classroom environment) are eligible.
- Previous national VFW winners and home school teachers are ineligible.
- Nominations can be submitted by fellow teachers, supervisors or other interested individuals (not relatives.) Self-nominees are not eligible.
- While a school official may nominate a teacher, permission from a school or district is not required.
- February 15 – Deadline for all teacher nominations at the Post.
- February 28 – Deadline for Post judging to be completed and one winner from each level is sent to District.
- March 15 – Deadline for District judging to be completed and winners forwarded to the Department.
- March 30 – Deadline for Department judging to be completed.
- April 5 – Deadline for Department winners to be submitted to VFW National Headquarters.
Post chairmen must be sure to send the original nomination form, essay and official Post teacher entry form of the winner from each grade’s category level — along with one-page resume, up to five pages of documentation and a good quality head and shoulders photograph from the winning teachers.
- Select competent and unbiased judges; a panel of at least three to five judges is recommended.
- The VFW chairman should be present at the judging to provide assistance, but should not be one of the judges.
- Prior to the judging, the chairman should review all nomination forms to ensure they adhere to the rules.
- Make sure entry is not a self-nomination.
- The nominator should keep to the 350 word limit and sign the nomination.
Judges should grant points based on four criteria with the potential of 100 points as follows:
- 1-25 points – Does the teacher teach and/or model good citizenship and community involvement?
- 1-25 points – An innovative approach to teaching citizenship.
- 1-25 points – Development of resources to teach citizenship education.
- 1-25 points – Passion for teaching citizenship education.
Running the Program
Here are some important points to remember when conducting the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award Program.
- Know the program procedures and judging guidelines thoroughly.
- Develop a good working relationship with your Post’s chairman.
- Contact schools early and make a point of explaining the importance of the program to the principal.
- Send a news release to your local media with the names of your winning teachers (see website for sample.)
- Recognize your participants (both winners and judges) with official VFW awards – see the official VFW Store catalog or visit vfwstore.org for ideas.
- Send an accurate and detailed report of your competition along with your winning Post’s entries to the District as soon as the competition is finished. (It’s the VFW chairman’s responsibility to complete this.) This report should include the following:
- Auxiliary participation
- Number of schools
- Total amount of money spent (including banquet costs, gifts and citations.)
Winning Entry Checklist
Here’s what your Post needs to have to your District. (It’s the VFW chairman’s responsibility to complete this.)
- Winning Post teacher’s entry form, original nomination form and essay by individual making the nomination. (Up to 350 words.)
- Teacher’s one page resume (no more than two sides).
- Up to five pages (both sides) of documentation such as news articles or supervisor’s recommendations.
- Good quality head and shoulders photo of the teacher.
The above requirements are the same for Districts to send to the Department by March 15. (It’s the VFW chairman’s responsibility to complete this.)
There are hundreds of thousands of teachers out there doing a great job teaching democracy and patriotism. Let’s make sure they get the recognition they deserve! Nominate a teacher in your area today!