National University Teacher Award recognizes the best inspirational teachers from across the nation



Five regional winners honored in a surprising Zoom announcement; receive US $ 10,000 awards, a full scholarship for a Masters in SEL at NU, and are eligible for a national award of US $ 50,000.

SAN DIEGO — 17. November 2021—The National University Teacher Award recognized the best inspirational teacher from five regions of the country in recognition of inspiring teaching across the country. The awards were announced to teachers in a surprise Zoom meeting on Tuesday.

In a time of unprecedented challenge for teachers across the country, the National University Teacher Award honors the best teacher in each region with $ 10,000 for helping students develop and perform in an inspiring and harmonious way. It also offers the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to earn a Masters Degree in Social and Emotional Learning from National University, the first program of its kind in the United States.

The award recognizes teachers who demonstrate high levels of inspirational teaching practices by engaging students, building student confidence, creating an inclusive environment, motivating students to succeed, and giving students a voice. Each recipient of teachers is now eligible to be named National University Teacher of the Year, a national award valued at $ 50,000. The winner will be announced at a later date.

The regional winners were selected by a committee of educators and faculty based on an application process that included professional information and videos provided by each teacher.

“The teaching profession is the essential profession – the profession that makes everyone else possible. Teachers have the greatest impact on student learning in school and play an important role in helping students grow socially, emotionally, and academically, ”said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the San Diego-based nonprofit National University System, with a 50-year history of educating adult learners and underserved populations. “The National University Teacher Award is a way for us to recognize the contributions of inspiring teachers who give so much to their schools and communities and help children reach their greatest potential.”

Regional winners of the National University Teacher Award 2021 include:

WEST – Reagan Duncan teaches English learners at Maryland Elementary School in Vista, California. Your school has been a Harmony SEL Showcase School for five years and works with the National University’s Sanford College of Education. Reagan is creating a music community to teach language development through singing. She has used SEL techniques to make her classroom a special place where students care for and support each other. Efforts have turned the classroom into a caring and safe space that highlights student strengths and gives students confidence. During the pandemic, she also led book campaigns to keep people having access to the learning materials they need.

SOUTHWEST – Eric Hale is a first and second grade teacher at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas, Texas. He describes himself as a teacher who lays the foundation for mastering English, math, science and social studies while building the social and emotional self-esteem of his students and their parents. He uses his personal understanding of poverty and trauma to guide students to excellence no matter what obstacles they face. He is a powerful advocate for all children, but especially for those growing up in poverty and trauma. He was a strong leader and fundraiser who helped close the equity gap by raising more than $ 100,000 on student projects. He uses this money to help students connect directly with celebrities and cultural and academic institutions that are enriching and providing students from impoverished backgrounds with the best learning opportunities Dallas has to offer.

MIDDLE WEST – Dr. Maggie McHugh takes pride in teaching students how – rather than what – to study at La Crosse Polytechnic School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Her educational philosophy helps students create personalized educational experiences where they “learn from mistakes, persevere by iterating, and think about growth”. Under her supervision, each student drafts a demanding interdisciplinary project with a key question that is of personal interest to her. The process has resulted in the students doing some fascinating projects where they have to learn every topic imaginable – like the student designing a luxury cruise ship that will clean the oceans of pollution and studying the oceans and currents of the earth Must, apply technology skills, research national and international laws, create scale models and communicate effectively.

SOUTH-EAST – Melody Hawkins was until recently an eighth grade science teacher at Vine Middle School in Knoxville, TN. She is now an administrator at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Orienting her teaching to the methods used to teach great scientists, she had her students work scientifically and conduct experiments in an environment known for their voice and agency, ensuring that students possess what they have learned. In fact, one of their eighth grades won a national competition to have NASA conduct an experiment they designed in space. She launched a sixth grade virtual summer boost camp where students learn scientific and social and emotional learning skills, including the value of community and positive peer-to-peer relationships.

NORTH EAST – Olivia Leone, Special Education Teacher at PS 161, Juan Ponce de Leon School in the Bronx, New York, integrates SEL into her daily classes with special needs students. When her school, the first New York City charter school to introduce Harmony SEL, was forced to work entirely virtual last year, she incorporated Harmony SEL strategies into distance learning to create strong connections with her students in any setting. Passionate about her job, Olivia went out of her way to meet the needs of all of her students and she has used the Harmony program to give voice and freedom of action to special education students through social and emotional learning techniques.

The qualities these teachers epitomize reflect the mission of education-focused programs that are being expanded nationally through the direction of the private, non-profit National University System that houses Sanford College of Education, one of the largest educational schools in the country, initially a Masters – Offer degrees in social and emotional learning. The National University System’s educational programs include Harmony SEL, a pre-K6 social and emotional learning program that provides teachers with free online research-based resources and lessons to create inspiring classroom experiences.

The 2021 award winners will join last year’s recipient cohort, continue to partner with Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning, and receive training in communication and advocacy for inspiring teaching based on social and emotional development.

Via the National University System

The National University System (NUS) is a network of accredited not-for-profit educational institutions that serves a diverse student population, including preschool students and professionals. NUS higher education institutions serve more than 45,000 students through National University, Northcentral University, and City University of Seattle. NUS education-oriented initiatives include Workforce Education Solutions, Harmony SEL, Inspire Teaching & Learning, and Fundraising Academy Cause Selling Education. Learn more at

Via Inspire Teaching & Learning and Harmony SEL

The National University System is a leader in social and emotional learning, leading a national expansion of affiliate programs in the pre-K-12 sector. These programs include: Inspire teaching & learningIt offers research-based teaching methods and on-demand, self-directed modules that are accessible online and free of charge and encourage students to help teachers successfully create inspiring learning and environments Harmony SEL, a pre-K-6 research-based social and emotional learning program that fosters strong peer relationships among all students. Harmony SEL has been recognized as a quality program by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).



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