The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards are presented yearly on March 22, Sondheim's birthday. They were created in 2010 in honor of Sondheim's 80th birthday.
Awards are presented to "outstanding teachers, living or deceased, kindergarten through college in all areas of education, who are nominated via the Kennedy Center website."
Recipients each receive a $10,000 prize. Their stories, as told by the nominating students, are featured on a website dedicated to inspirational teachers.
Myrna and Freddie Gershon, who fund the annual awards, created the honor in celebration of Sondheim's 80th birthday.
A total of 46 teachers have been recognized over five years for their influence on students in a wide variety of disciplines, not just the arts.
In a statement, Sondheim said, "Teachers define us. 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. Good teachers are touchstones to paths of achieving more than we might have otherwise accomplished, in directions we might not have gone."
Those interested in nominating a teacher for the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards should click here.