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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
August 20, 2020

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

2021 California Teachers of the Year Program

The California Department of Education (CDE), in partnership with the California Teacher of the Year Foundation, is pleased to invite county offices of education (COEs) to participate in the 2021 California Teachers of the Year (TOY) Program.

We hope that you, your schools, and communities are doing well. We acknowledge that this year has created unprecedented challenges for all of you, and we want to thank each of you for all that you have done and continue to do to support your teachers, students, and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of the TOY Program is to honor the profession chosen by more than 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 narrow the achievement gap among a range of students and to prepare students for twenty-first century college and careers.

California TOYs are frequently called upon to serve as ambassadors of the CDE and for the teaching profession. By sharing their experiences and success, these outstanding teachers can help elevate public opinion of the teaching profession and perhaps inspire more people to become teachers.

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 and be supported by their employer.
  • 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 those 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 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.

Statewide Selection Process

To evaluate the application, the CDE convenes a selection committee consisting of administrators, representatives from professional organizations, and teachers.

Districts and counties are encouraged to hold local competitions in the spring. The state deadline for submission of candidates by COEs is Tuesday, September 1, 2020.

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 timeframe to organize and conduct TOY selection and recognition activities. Application forms are available on the CDE California Teachers of the Year web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/ct/.

NOTE: All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2020.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE Awards Team by phone at 916-319-0842 or by email at awards@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

TT:pm
2020-05169

Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 20, 2020

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