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Awards to South Dakota PreK-12 Teachers to Recognize Excellence in Classroom Instruction

South Dakota Teacher of the Year (TOY)

GrantWatch ID# 171693
Agency: State

Funding Source
South Dakota Department of Education
Array ( )

Geographic Focus
USA: South Dakota

Important Dates
LOI Date: 03/30/23
Deadline: 06/02/23 Save

Grant Description
Awards to South Dakota PreK-12 teachers to recognize exceptional performance in classroom education. Districts must pre-register nominees prior to applying. Nominees eligible for this award demonstrate outstanding skill and dedication in the classroom; are active in their school and community; provide inspiration for students of all backgrounds and abilities; and have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues.

The goal of the TOY program is to recognize and honor the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers. 

All TOY awardees are dynamic teachers who are dedicated to improving the education and the lives of their students and their communities. Some things to consider when nominating a teacher include the teacher’s methods for meeting student needs, desire for professional growth, community involvement, dedication to the teaching profession, and rapport with students, parents, and staff.

Each District Teacher of the Year becomes a nominee for his or her district’s Regional Teacher of the Year Award. If the District TOY is selected as the Regional TOY, he or she becomes a nominee for the South Dakota TOY. If chosen as the South Dakota TOY, he/she then becomes a candidate for the National TOY.

The National Teacher of the Year selection is not completed until the following Spring, so for a District TOY to be eligible for Region TOY and South Dakota TOY they must plan to be an active teacher for at least two more school years.


  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria
A classroom teacher is a person who has a class of his/her own and spends at least three or more hours per day, five days a week, for six or more calendar months during a school year in a classroom teaching students.

A District TOY candidate who wishes to be considered for Region and State Teacher of the Year must:
- Be a fully certified teacher;
- Be employed by a South Dakota accredited school district - pre-kindergarten through grade twelve;
- Have at least 3 full years of teaching experience;
- Be planning to continue in an active teaching status (supervisory and administrative responsibilities are secondary considerations) for at least 2 more years;

A District TOY candidate who wishes to be considered for Region and State Teacher of the Year should:
- Have a superior ability to inspire students of ALL backgrounds and abilities to learn;
- Be an exceptionally skilled and dedicated classroom teacher;
- Have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues;
- Play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school; and
- Be poised, and articulate, and have the energy to withstand the demanding schedule that would accompany selection as the South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

School counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are NOT eligible.

Pre-Application Information
- February 1, 2023: Districts should begin the process to select their own District TOY.
- March 1: Deadline for districts to submit the name of their District Toy. All submitted District TOY winners will be invited to submit a Region application.
- March 30: Deadline to submit All Regional Teacher of the Year.
- April: Regional TOYs will be announced during Teacher Appreciation Week. Regional TOYs will be notified and asked to complete the South Dakota Teacher of the Year Application and send a hard copy and an electronic version to the Department of Education.
- June 2: Deadline to Submit State application and video.
- July/Aug TBA: State Teacher of the Year Selection Day in Pierre.

A 15-minute video of the candidate teaching and engaging with students must be uploaded to YouTube by June 2, 2023.

The Teacher of the Year (TOY) Award is an honor given to only one teacher within each ESA region each year.

A school district may choose to set up its own selection process for choosing a District Teacher of the Year, or use guidelines created by the Department of Education. The guidelines can be altered to fit a district’s needs.

Contact Information
Submit names for the District TOY to Amanda Hargreaves at

Submit the Regional and State Teacher of the Year applications to:
South Dakota Department of Education
Attn: Amanda Hargreaves
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

For questions relating to the South Dakota Teacher of the Year Program, contact Amanda Hargreaves at the email address above or call 605-295-2280.

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