Educator of the Year

The AMLE Educator of the Year (previously known as the Distinguished Educator Award) is an annual award given by the Association for Middle Level Education. This award recognizes outstanding practitioners in middle level education—those who have made an impact on the lives of young adolescents with a significant body of work and have advanced the field of middle level education through leadership, vision, and advocacy.

Congratulations to Autumn Rivera, our 2023 honoree!
Autumn Rivera is a middle school science teacher from Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Learn more about her accomplishments and impact.

Nominations are now open for 2024. Once a nomination form is submitted, the nominee will be contacted and invited to provide a full candidate packet.

Selection Criteria

  • Candidate must have five or more years of practical application, implementation, influence, or involvement in middle level education at the local level and the state or national level.
  • Candidate must be employed in the field of middle level education on a full-time basis.
  • Candidate must be a current professional or school member of the Association for Middle Level Education and is encouraged to be a member of the state/local affiliate.
  • Current AMLE staff, Board of Trustees, and selection committee members are not eligible for this award. Past Lounsbury Award and former AMLE Educator of the Year winners also are not eligible.


The Award recipient shall receive the following:

  • A plaque that will be presented at the Association for Middle Level Education annual conference
  • A one-year individual membership to the Association for Middle Level Education
  • Complimentary registration and lodging to the annual conference at which the award will be presented
  • $1,000 cash award from the AMLE Foundation Fund

Nominated Candidates

  • Candidate must submit a narrative that speaks directly to at least three of the following traits. Narratives describing all three traits can be no more than 1500 words in length.
    • Positively impacting the lives of young adolescents on a daily basis
    • Implementing middle level change and reform at the local level and state or national level
    • Implementing recommendations outlined in The Successful Middle School: This We Believe by clearly providing examples of how the successful implementation of characteristics impact student learning
    • Mentoring, coaching, or teaching educators in middle level practice and philosophy
    • Providing knowledge, advocacy, and support to the middle level movement
    • Exhibiting exceptional leadership at the local level as well as the state or national level
    • Providing a voice for middle level throughout your school, district, and state or national level.
    • Expressing middle level beliefs via written or oral communication at the state and/or national level.
  • Candidate must submit a resume (two page) that details his or her experience, history, or awards in middle level education.
  • Candidate can submit up to ten one-sided examples of supporting documentation, which must include at least four letters of recommendation, one of which is from the nominee’s immediate supervisor; one from a student, former student or parent, colleague(s), or from someone who currently reports or previously reported to the candidate; and may include one from the state/local affiliate. Other examples can include newspaper clippings, programs, sample writings, or other pertinent material.
  • Complete the AMLE Educator of the Year nominee form, include additional materials, and submit to the AMLE office by the published due date.

Selection Committee

The selection committee is comprised of members of the AMLE Board of Trustees, current AMLE members in a variety of job roles, and a member of the AMLE Foundation Fund Committee. Members of the selection committee may not nominate candidates.

Selection Process

  • A Call for Nominations will be made at least once per year in an appropriate AMLE publication and on the website.
  • All nominations will be sent to AMLE headquarters, dated, checked for required information, and filed with the committee chair for consideration by the committee. Headquarters will notify the nominator that the nomination has been received.
  • The annual deadline for receipt of nominations is July 15.
  • The AMLE liaison will send the nominee materials to the selection committee members for review.
  • The selection committee will teleconference to determine the recommendation for the current year’s Award recipient.
  • The chair will inform the Board of the committee’s recommendation and the Board will make the final determination of the year’s Award recipient.
  • The recipient and nominator will be notified by the end of July.
  • Applications will be kept on file for three years.

Autumn Rivera

Teacher, Colorado

Amber Benson and Ruby Voss

Co-Teaching Team, Virginia

Nikki Woodson

Superintendent, Indiana

Joe Pizzo

Teacher, New Jersey

Joe Welch

Teacher, Pennsylvania

Amber Chandler

Teacher, New York
Sandra Kowalczyk
Reading Specialist, Wisconsin

David D. McDonald

Assistant Superintendent, South Carolina

Randy Jensen

Principal, Idaho

Allison Glickman-Rogers

Principal, New York

Michelle Owens Hayward

Principal, Arkansas

Bob Heaberlin

Principal, Georgia

Jim Heston

Instructional Specialist, Texas

Yvonne Rambo

Principal, Indiana

Elizabeth Fogartie

Administrator, Georgia

Karen Brown

Administrator, Pennsylvania

Jane Feber

Teacher, Florida

Kathy Shewey

Teacher, Florida

Kim Williams

Teacher, Idaho

Elizabeth Dore

Teacher, Virginia

V. Christine Waggoner

Principal, North Carolina

Ed Vittardi

Administrator, Ohio

Robert Caplinger

Administrator, Oregon

Pam Millikan

Administrator, Indiana

Mark Springer

Teacher, Pennsylvania

Craig Martin

Teacher/Administrator, Massachusetts

Maureen Furr

Principal, North Carolina