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2015 California Teachers of the Year Program

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
March 27, 2014

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


I am pleased to invite each County Office of Education (COE) to participate in the 2015 California Teachers of the Year (TOY) Program.

The overall purpose of the TOY Program is to honor the profession chosen by 300,000 people in the state and to heighten interest in teaching as a career. The program affords the opportunity to bring attention to teachers who successfully employ strategies to increase academic success and to narrow the achievement gap with a range of diverse students.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for the TOY Program is limited to candidates who are successful as finalists in their local county competitions and meet any of the following criteria:

  • Fully credentialed teachers in public or private schools who teach any grade level from pre-kindergarten through twelve
  • Adult Education teachers who provide instruction in the same curriculum as those who teach in elementary or secondary grades
  • Instructors who have some administrative responsibilities but for whom teaching students is the primary responsibility
  • Teachers who are available to fulfill ambassadorial duties during the year of service
  • Teachers who have been in the classroom for more than eight years
Application Process

Candidates for the TOY Program compete in the state program as nominees of COEs. Most COEs have a TOY Coordinator. In many counties, candidates first prevail in local district competitions.

Some districts establish their own processes and applications for selecting exemplary teachers. These teachers, in turn, advance to the county office recognition program. Such programs generate the primary base of applicants at the state level.

Interested applicants should find out if their local district and county have a TOY recognition program and how the recognition processes link to the state program. Candidates from private schools as well as candidates being sponsored by professional organizations should also submit their applications to the COE.

County Selection Process

Most COEs organize and administer regional TOY recognition programs for applicants within the county. The California Department of Education (CDE) urges counties to ensure that state and local TOY eligibility and application information is made accessible to all public and private school teachers. Counties should seek applicants who represent the diversity of their students. As in past years, each COE is entitled to send forward for consideration one teacher for every 5,000 (or fraction thereof) teachers in the county. Counties with fewer than 5,000 teachers may submit one teacher for consideration.

Districts and counties are encouraged to hold local competitions in the spring. The state deadline for submission of candidates by COEs is August 22, 2014. This deadline is driven by the National TOY Program. The CDE recommends that counties use the Timeline of Activities designed to provide local and county agencies with a time frame to organize and conduct TOY selection and recognition activities. Application forms are available on the CDE Teacher of the Year Web page at

Statewide Selection Process

To evaluate the application, the CDE convenes a selection committee consisting of administrators, representatives from professional organizations, and teachers. The awardees will be honored at a gala in Sacramento in January/February 2015.

NOTE: All applications must be postmarked by Friday, August 22, 2014.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE Awards Team by phone at 916-319-0842 or by e-mail at


Tom Torlakson


Last Reviewed: Friday, February 17, 2017

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