First presented in 2011, the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards are presented annually on Sondheim's birthday, March 22, to a select group of teachers, kindergarten through college, whose work impacts students in a meaningful way.
To date, 32 teachers have been presented with Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards.
Award recipients each receive $10,000 and are showcased, along with the people they inspired, on a website dedicated to inspirational teachers. The awards were created in honor of Sondheim's 80th birthday and were initiated and funded through Myrna and Freddie Gershon. The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher homepage features leaders and celebrities – including J. J. Abrams, Bill Bradley amongst others – describing their favorite teachers and the impact those teachers have made on them and their larger communities.
Nominators must be at least 18 years of age and have been a student of the nominee. Teacher nominees must teach or have taught in a K-12 school, college or university in the United States. Teachers of all grade levels and all fields of study are eligible.
Nominators for posthumous recognition of a teacher must designate a non-profit organization or fund within a K-12 school, school system, college or university in the United States to receive the $10,000 award in the deceased teacher's name. "Teachers define us," said Sondheim in a statement. "In our early years, when we are still being formed, they often see in us more than we see in ourselves, more even than our families see and, as a result, help us to evolve into what we ultimately become."
The nomination deadline is Dec. 14.
For more information and to nominate a teacher for the award, people should visit kennedy-center.org/programs/awards/sondheim/.