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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
June 17, 2022

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Principals:

2023 California Teachers of the Year Program

The California Department of Education (CDE), in partnership with the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, is pleased to invite county offices of education (COEs) to participate in the 2023 California Teachers of the Year (CA TOY) Program.

The CA TOY Program highlights educational innovation, student learning, and the rewards of teaching. The purpose of the CA TOY Program is to honor the teaching profession and to heighten interest in teaching as a career by spotlighting teachers who successfully employ skills and strategies to increase academic outcomes and narrow the opportunity gap.

California Teachers of the Year are frequently called upon to serve as ambassadors of the CDE and for the teaching profession. By sharing their experiences and successes, 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 county competitions and meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be fully credentialed teachers currently employed to teach any prekindergarten through grade-12 curriculum to children or adults
  • Have completed eight years of teaching at the time of the application submitted at the local level
  • Be employed full time or as long-term substitutes in public or private schools; applicants may be assigned some administrative duties if teaching is the primary responsibility
  • Have demonstrated leadership and innovation inside and outside of the classroom that embodies lifelong learning
  • Have expressed themselves in an engaging and articulate way
  • Be available to fulfill ambassadorial duties during the year of service and be supported by their employer
  • Have been named as a finalist in their county competition
Application Process

Candidates for the CA TOY Program compete in the state program as nominees of COEs. Most COEs have a TOY Coordinator.

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.

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 Friday, August 12, 2022. This deadline is driven by the national TOY Program. The CDE recommends that counties use the Timeline of Activities available on the CDE California Teachers of the Year web page to provide local and county agencies with a time frame to organize and conduct TOY selection and recognition activities. Additionally, instructions and the application are available on the CDE California Teachers of the Year web page, which can be accessed at

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the CDE Awards Unit by email at or by phone at 916-319-0842.


Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Friday, June 17, 2022

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