Awards & Programs
We are pleased to dedicate this page to the many teachers and administrators of our nation’s rural schools who significantly contribute to education in our rural schools as well as to those who participate to be able to receive these awards. There are many who have received these awards, and there will be many in the future as we continue to strive for the best in education. We thank you and we honor you!
Please read about the awards programs the NREA and its affiliates offer. Feel free to submit an application to apply for or make a nomination for these coveted awards.
The annual NREA Foundation Essay Contest allows contestants to participate in three divisions: elementary, middle/junior high, and high school. Grades 3-8 may participate in a written essay contest using the provided prompt and rubric. Grades 9-12 may participate in a video essay contest using the provided prompt and rubric. The winner in the elementary division receives $250. The runner-up will receive $100. The winners in the middle/junior high and high school divisions receive $400. The runner-ups receive a $200 prize.
Contest Guidelines, Prompts, and Rubrics
In order to recognize outstanding, high quality, research in the field of rural education, the National Rural Education Association sponsors the Stanley A. Brzezinski Memorial Rural Education Research Award. This award, funded by the Brzezinski family, will be awarded for educational research, which addresses significant rural issues and makes notable contributions to the knowledge base of rural education. Research addressing rural education issues is paramount to the selection process. All rural education researchers are eligible to be nominated or to self-nominate for the award. The research could include, but is not limited to, issues of rural school efficiency and effectiveness, rural students’ learning and development, financing rural schools, rural poverty, the rural economy, student/rural community expectations, understanding the diversity of rural administrators, or alternative instructional and organizational patterns for rural education. The research project judged most meritorious will receive the award, and the author will be recognized at the NREA national convention.
Submission deadline: June 30 of each year
Brzezinski Award Winners:
2007 - Aimee Howley and Craig Howley
2008 - Patricia Hammer
2009 - Hobart Harmon
2010 - Claudette Morton
2011 - Pat Hardre
2012 - Marty Strange
2013 - no award
2014 - no award
2015 - no award
2016 - Kai Arthur Schafft
2017 - Dr. Jerry Johnson
The National Rural Education Association sponsors the Edward W. Chance Memorial Rural Education Dissertation Award. The Chance family, through the NREA Foundation, funds this award in order to recognize doctoral research which makes a significant contribution to rural education and addresses issues of current concern. The research could include, but is not limited to, issues of rural school efficiency and effectiveness, rural students’ learning and development, financing rural schools, rural poverty, the rural economy, student/rural community expectations, understanding the diversity of rural administrators, or alternative instructional and organizational patterns for rural education. The dissertation judged most meritorious will receive the award, and the author will be recognized at the NREA National Convention.
Submission deadline: May 31 of each year
2006 - Marilyn Dishman-Horst
2007 - John Huysiman
2008 - Michael Barbour
2009 - Karen Eppley
2010 - Howell Wright and Sara Armstrong
2011 - Sara Beasley
2012 - Erin McHenry-Sorber
2013 - Joshua Phiester
2014 - Lynn Lisy-Macan
2015 - John Ulferts
2016 - Dr. Shelby L. Davidson
2017 - Dr. Jacqueline Yahn
2018 - Dr. Julie Downing
The National Rural Education Association is very proud to present the Annual Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year Award to a deserving rural teacher. The generous support provided by Monsanto Fund lets the Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year receive a $2000 honorarium, and the Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year’s school district receives $1000 to purchase instructional materials and school supplies.
- 2018-2019 Rural Teacher of the Year Winner and Finalists
- 2018-2019 Rural Teacher of the Year: Wade Owlett
The Foundation Board of Trustees gives a yearly award to a current member of the NREA who has served for a minimum of five years and has given significant contributions in service to the NREA as well as to his/her local rural school district, state, or the nation in the field of rural education.
The NREA annually solicits nominations for the HERO Award from the NREA State Affiliates, the NREA Membership, the NREA Legislative Committee, and the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition. Nominees are presented to the Legislative Committee prior to the NREA annual convention, and the Committee, with advice from the NRE Advocacy Coalition, recommends the nominee(s) to receive the NREA Hero Award. The NREA presents this prestigious award at the National Convention.
Submissions are due each year by October 1.
The NREA will present the Best Research Award in conjunction with the Annual NREA Research Symposium. The award will be presented to the author of the paper that is judged to be the best research paper submitted for the Research Symposium. An author may receive the Best Research Award no more than one time in a five-year period.
2006 - Pat Hardre
2007 - Mary Beth Corbin and Vivian Martin Covington
2008 - Pat Hardre and David Sullivan
2009 - John Sipple, Lisa McCabe, and Hope Castro
2010 - Caitlin Howley, Kimberly Hambrick
2011 - Aimee Howley, Karen Eppley, and Marged Howley
2012 - Michelle Tines
2013 - Jackie Florendo and Jody Isernhagen
2014 - Gary Storie and Peter Denner
2015 - Matthew Burke, Elisabeth Davis, and Jennifer Stephens
2016 - Dr. Erin McHenry and Dr. Daniella Hall
- Submission guidelines will be updated and sent out in February of each year prior to conference (NREA & Battelle for Kids.)
The NREA Exemplary Practices Award is presented annually to an individual or an organization for demonstrating exemplary practice in one or more of the following areas:
- Curriculum development, staff development, or administrative practices to provide more equitable educational opportunities for rural children.
- Enhancement of communications within and among local school districts.
- Promotion and development of state and regional delivery systems which bring about efficient and effective education for children in rural areas.
- Curriculum planning and/or instructional strategies to utilize effectively the rural environment and the characteristics of small schools.
- Financial efficiency in school operations.
Nominations and supporting materials for the NREA Exemplary Practices or Program Award will be received and evaluated by the NREA Awards and Recognition Committee. The committee will make recommendations to the NREA Executive Committee for final approval.
The recipient of the NREA Exemplary Practices Award will receive one complimentary registration to the Annual NREA Convention to receive the award.
- 2015 - Krista Stith
2017 - Dr. Shelby Davidson
Submission deadline: June 15
The NREA Outstanding Service Award is presented annually to an NREA member who has demonstrated contributions in one or more of the following areas:
- The development of leadership potential of rural youth and adults in a rural district or region
- The enhancement of rural community development
- Support and assists in furthering the effectiveness of communications between local school districts and business/industry, governmental agencies, and/or institutions of higher education
- Facilitates partnerships among schools, between schools, and the private sector
- Supports legislation to enhance rural schools and education
- Supports exemplary practices
- Promotes advocacy of rural education
- Provides leadership in the development of rural education related conferences and workshops
Nominations and supporting materials for the NREA Outstanding Service Award will be received and evaluated by the NREA Awards and Recognition Committee. The committee will make recommendations to the NREA Executive Committee for final approval.
The recipient of the NREA Outstanding Service Award will receive one complimentary registration to the Annual NREA Convention to receive the award.
Submission deadline: June 15