Archived—2013 Guidelines and Nomination Form

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For most of us, at least one teacher stands out in our memories —someone who encouraged, enabled and inspired us to do our very best. Teachers play a tremendous role, not only in the academic achievement of students, but in the skills, attitudes and abilities they carry with them beyond the classroom.

The Prime Minister's Awards (PMA) for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who instill in their students a love of learning and who utilize information and communications technologies (ICT) to better equip their students with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in a 21st century society and economy.


  • Up to 15 Certificates of Excellence (national level), including a financial award of $5,000.
  • Up to 35 Certificates of Achievement (regional level), including a financial award of $1,000.

Certificates of Excellence are awarded to the 15 top-ranked nominees. At least one award is designated for each of the following regions (provided standards of excellence are met): British Columbia; the Prairies; the North (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut); Ontario; Quebec; and Atlantic Canada. Up to 35 of the next top-ranked nominees each receive a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, at least one Certificate of Excellence and one Certificate of Achievement are awarded to top-ranked Aboriginal teachers.

Financial awards for the Certificates of Excellence are shared equally between the recipient and their school or teaching institution (as identified on the nomination form) to be spent under the recipient’s direction. If a winning teacher changes schools, financial awards (school portion) go to the school at which the recipient was teaching at the time of nomination. Financial awards for the Certificates of Achievement are sent directly to recipients.

Award funds may be used for professional development, website development, the purchase of equipment (e.g. computers, software, and audio-visual and laboratory equipment), resource materials, teaching aids, or other tools to improve teaching and student learning. For recipients of the Certificate of Excellence, a portion of the school’s award funds (up to 25%) may be used to cover teacher replacement costs while the recipient is attending the national awards ceremony, traditionally held in Ottawa.

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All winning teachers receive a certificate, a PMA pin and a letter of congratulations signed by the Prime Minister.

Certificate of Excellence recipients may also be invited to participate in best practice sessions and attend a national awards ceremony with the Prime Minister, or his representative, traditionally held in Ottawa. If invited, costs for the Certificate of Excellence recipients to attend the national awards ceremony are covered by the Prime Minister’s Awards program.

Certificate of Achievement recipients are honoured at local school or community events involving principals, peers, students and local members of Parliament or local leaders.

Each recipient’s school also receives a certificate, signed by the Prime Minister, recognizing its support for teaching excellence and its contribution to the recipient’s achievement.

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The achievements of all recipients are promoted both nationally and in the teachers’ home communities. Certificate of Excellence recipients are profiled, with their permission, in the annual Prime Minister’s Awards Exemplary Practices publication.

"I think it's the ‘Nobel Prize of Teaching' - a major highlight of my teaching career. Professionally, it gives me a chance to make a bigger difference. "

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

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At the time of nomination (no later than April 19, 2013), all nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Nominees must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Nominees must be certified to teach in a public or private school in a Canadian province/territory (a copy of original teaching certification must be provided).
  • Nominees should teach full-time in a Canadian school at the elementary or secondary level. Part-time teachers may be nominated, provided they teach the equivalent of 2.5 days a week in a classroom setting (or as defined by provincial/territorial guidelines).
  • Nominees must have taught in a Canadian school for at least three years.
  • A nominee’s teaching certification must be in good standing with the provincial/territorial governing body (proof of teaching certification status is required — letter from province/territory or College of Teachers is accepted).

Note: If the certification to teach is withdrawn between the time of nomination and the award presentation, the Prime Minister’s Awards program reserves the right to withdraw this candidacy. If eligibility status of a nomination is compromised or changes (e.g. due to loss of certification as a result of professional misconduct), the nominator and/or nominee has a responsibility to inform the PMA program of a change in status in writing. See the PMA recipient Code of Conduct for further information.

Posthumous nominations are not accepted.

The Prime Minister’s Awards are designed to honour the overall accomplishments of a single teacher or a teaching team of up to three teachers. The program is not intended to recognize the achievements of an entire school or teaching staff. When team members teach in different schools, boards or districts, any cash award is shared equally among the institutions.

Teachers of young children who are not eligible for this award may be eligible for the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. Nomination guidelines are available at, by sending an email to, or by calling 613-946-0651.

Team nominations

Successful team nominations address the overall accomplishments of a team of up to three teachers. Each member of a team must meet the eligibility requirements described above. A team nomination should reflect a true collaboration, not simply a collection of individual accomplishments. The nomination text should describe how the team worked together to meet each of the selection criteria.

Letters of support can endorse the accomplishments of one or all members of the team.

Note: Page restrictions for the nomination text and letters of support are the same for team and individual nominations. Do not submit separate applications if part of a team nomination. However, please provide a copy of each nominee's teaching certification, proof that the nominee’s teacher certification is in good standing and evidence of each nominee's experience.

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Nominators may be any person or group with direct knowledge of the nominee’s contribution (e.g. parent, school principal, supervisor, fellow educator, etc.) Self-nominations or nominations received from a nominee's direct family members will not be accepted.

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Recipients of a Certificate of Achievement may be renominated for a Certificate of Excellence in a subsequent year, but are ineligible for a second Achievement award. Unsuccessful nominees may be renominated in a subsequent year. In all cases, complete and updated nomination packages must be submitted, including letters of support written during the current nomination period. Previous recipients of a Certificate of Excellence are not eligible.

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How Recipients are Chosen

After an initial screening for basic eligibility, copies of the nomination text and letters of support are sent to our selection committee members for review. Committee members include representatives of major education stakeholders from across Canada. See the current list of organizations represented on the selection committee.

Nomination packages are evaluated and ranked by selection committee members based on how well the nominee meets the selection criteria and a final list of top-ranked individuals is then recommended to the Prime Minister for recognition.

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Selection Criteria

Award recipients are selected based on the excellence and innovation of their teaching practices, their ability to achieve outstanding results with students, to inspire them to learn and continue learning and to equip them with the knowledge, attitudes and skills they will need to succeed in a 21st century society and economy. In selecting award recipients, the committee looks for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in all of the following five areas:

1. Innovative and Exemplary Teaching Practices

The nomination text should describe and provide concrete examples of the teaching practices that best show the teacher’s contribution to his or her students’ learning, such as the following:

  • creating a particularly stimulating and innovative learning environment;
  • creatively integrating a subject with, and across, other disciplines;
  • integrating hands-on strategies and problem-solving activities into daily teaching practices;
  • using ICT in the classroom in innovative ways to improve student learning and outcomes;
  • implementing provincial or territorial policies and curricula in an exceptional fashion to meet the specific needs of his or her students;
  • involving parents in student learning;
  • developing community or business-education partnerships;
  • demonstrating the relevance of a subject to society; and,
  • providing constructive feedback to students.

2. Digital Literacy and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in the Classroom

The nomination text should clearly describe and provide concrete examples of teaching practices such as the following:

  • innovative and effective use of ICT in the classroom;
  • integrating ICT into the curriculum and across disciplines;
  • incorporating best practices related to ICT into lesson plans;
  • developing collaborative computer or Internet-based projects, learning materials and resources, or showing leadership in the use of these resources;
  • educating students about media awareness, cyber bullying and the safe and ethical use of the Internet — in turn, helping them become good “cyber citizens”;
  • using assistive devices (such as speech readers, etc.) to support children with special needs;
  • providing opportunities for students to be actively engaged in hands-on learning, using a variety of multimedia technologies; and,
  • helping students in remote communities access quality learning materials and providing them with equal opportunities for success through the use of ICT.

3. Student Skills Development

The nomination text should describe and provide concrete examples of evidence of student skills development such as students’ ability to do the followingFootnote 1:

  • listen, understand and communicate effectively;
  • demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviours;
  • be creative and innovative;
  • be flexible and adaptable;
  • work independently or collaboratively with others as a team;
  • think critically and act logically;
  • identify problems and implement solutions;
  • show leadership and take initiative;
  • use tools, technology and information systems effectively;
  • find, organize and apply knowledge and information from various fields;
  • set goals and manage time effectively;
  • be responsible for actions taken;
  • work safely; and,
  • learn continuously.

4. Student Achievement and Participation

The nomination text should describe and provide concrete examples of the teachers’ role in fostering student achievement and participation with individual students, groups, classes, or the community. Evidence may include the following:

  • fostering high attendance rates;
  • receipt of individual awards or scholarships;
  • outstanding engagement of students (regardless of their level or abilities);
  • superior student participation in extracurricular activities, educational partnerships, and co-op or apprenticeship programs, beyond course requirements;
  • superior student participation in collaborative online learning;
  • superior voluntary participation of students in Advanced Placement courses;
  • superior student tutoring or mentoring activities;
  • superior in-class assessment, district, or school board examination results;
  • high achievement in provincial, territorial, national and international contests or exams; and,
  • positive testimonials, such as letters from parents, students, administrators, businesses, and education partners.

5. Teacher Commitment and Leadership

The nomination text should describe and provide concrete examples of evidence of teacher commitment and leadership, such as the teacher’s role in the following:

  • demonstrating a passion for teaching;
  • organizing or delivering professional development courses, workshops or other in-service activities;
  • organizing or participating in extracurricular activities for students and/or the school as a whole;
  • developing and disseminating curricula and learning materials;
  • preparing articles or newsletters that contribute to the teaching profession;
  • developing subject matter and teaching expertise through professional development;
  • doing volunteer work; and,
  • mentoring new teachers in all aspects of the profession and acting as a role model.

"It gives me a chance to make a bigger difference. It really inspires me to learn and think about new innovative teaching practices for the future."

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

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How to Apply

Once you have identified one outstanding teacher or a team of teachers, develop a nomination package using the guidelines and checklist provided.

  • Each nomination package must include a completed copy of the attached PMA nomination form.
  • Forms must be signed by the nominee and the nominator, as well as by the nominee’s principal or supervisor.
  • When there is more than one nominee, please copy and complete a separate form for each.
  • When more than one nomination package is received for a teacher, nominators will be asked to combine their packages.
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Nomination Deadline

Nomination packages must be date stamped no later than April 19, 2013.

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Assembling a Nomination Package

LENGTH: Your nomination package must not exceed 20 pages, excluding teacher certification and checklist.

FORMAT: All information should be typewritten in a font no smaller than 10 points and double-spaced on 8½" x 11" paper. To ensure ease of reproduction, please print on one side only.

PACKAGING: Creative packaging can certainly make a nomination package stand out. Unfortunately, selection committee members do not get the opportunity to see it. Therefore, simple packaging is recommended.

BINDING: For ease of reproduction, please do not bind your nomination package.

COPIES: Please send only 1 original copy by mail.

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Helpful Hints in Preparing A Nomination Text

An effective nomination package illustrates the outstanding achievements of the nominee and clearly explains why he or she should receive one of Canada’s highest teaching honours. As a nominator, you are “painting a picture” of a nominee’s achievements for a selection committee that reviews hundreds of applications, so the package should be compelling.

Although self-nominations are not accepted, nominators are encouraged to seek advice from the nominee while developing a nomination text.

Follow the criteria set out in the nomination guidelines. Provide adequate detail for each of the five categories of selection criteria. Organize your text using the same headings.

Provide concrete examples and details to show how the nominee has met the selection criteria and explain the impact of the teacher’s efforts. Describe any special projects, teaching philosophies, unique learning environments, extracurricular activities, student reactions, outcomes or special achievements that make this teacher stand out.

Focus on the nominee’s overall achievements. Show that the nominee is well rounded and meets all five criteria in his or her overall work, not just in one particular project. Include other activities the teacher participates in for his or her students, fellow educators or school, such as extracurricular activities, volunteer work, professional development or social events.

Refer to the checklist to ensure you have included all necessary information.

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Please send nomination packages to the following address:

Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence

Industry Canada
Jean Edmonds Tower North
300 Slater Street, 20th floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0C8
Fax: 613-998-0943

For more information, please send an e-mail to or call the Prime Minister's Awards program at 613-946-0651.

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Industry Canada is grateful to the RBC Foundation  — for its generous support of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. Industry Canada would also like to acknowledge Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for its support of the awards for Aboriginal teachers. In addition, the program could not function without the important contributions of countless volunteers from education organizations across Canada who take part in the selection process. These include teachers’ federations, parent-teacher associations, post-secondary institutions, provincial and territorial education ministries, business organizations and student groups. Visit the selection committee page for a list of participating organizations.

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To facilitate the preparation of the nomination package and its review by the PMA office, please attach this checklist to your nomination package.

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Nomination Form

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PDF version

If the following document is not accessible to you, please contact us to obtain other appropriate formats. The following document is available for downloading or viewing:


  1. 1 back to footnote reference 1 Skills are drawn from The Conference Board of Canada's Employability Skills 2000+. For more information, go to The Conference Board of Canada: Education and Learning.