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A Teach For America corps member leads a small group activity in his classroom.

The Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teacher Leadership Award celebrates outstanding teacher leaders who are pursuing systems change in order to expand opportunities for students.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: While the deadline for your completed application is not until Monday, July 1st, we want to remind all potential applicants to prioritize sections 4 and 5 of the application guide before the end of your school year. These components include your classroom video and an interview with two students.

About the Sue Lehmann Award

Imagine all of us changing the policies and practices that have historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities from receiving an equitable education. Imagine yourself not only achieving exceptional outcomes with your students but also working in coalitions to ensure these changes endure beyond the classroom. 

This annual award recognizes leaders like you who are working inside and outside of the classroom in pursuit of systems change. You’ll have an opportunity to reflect on your impact as a teacher leader or a team of teacher leaders in the fight to end educational inequity. Your reflections will fuel your own learning and commitment and also help Teach For America shape its future development of our corps members and alumni, increasing our collective impact over time.

Award recipients will receive national recognition and an invitation to celebrate and share your stories with members of the Teach For America network. Additionally, award winners will receive a total of $5,000 to further your systems change effort and/or professional development. Those who apply as a group will split the award among all group members.

We believe systemic change is necessary to reach educational equity. This requires both individual and collective leadership. To that end, we have expanded the award in two key ways:

  • We are celebrating both individuals and teams of teacher leaders who are working together to change established policies or practices to expand opportunities for students.
  • The application is open to both corps members and alumni, or any combination (as a team). 

Honoring Sue Lehmann

The Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teacher Leadership award was created to honor our longtime Teach For America board member and lifetime director by recognizing outstanding teacher leaders who pursue and achieve systemic change for students. For more than 25 years, Sue has advocated for change in the educational ecosystem locally in New York City and across the country and has helped build a network of nearly TFA 60,000 leaders who are committed to this work. Sue has mentored countless corps members, alumni, and staff as they navigate careers working toward educational equity and excellence. She remains focused on students and their potential. With her support, our corps members and alumni are reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, influence, and lead. Sue currently serves as CEO and Co-Founder of the Student Success Network.


To be considered for the award, applicants must:

  • Be a Teach For America alum or corps member who is currently teaching. If applying as a group or team, each applicant must be teaching at least part-time.
  • Demonstrate that they’ve made a profound impact on their students, including exceptional academic achievement.
  • Have achieved systemic change in established policy or practice that is leading to a more equitable education for students.

Learn more about what we are looking for regarding student impact and outcomes, and systems change

Application Information

The application will open on Monday, April 1, 2019, and will close on Monday, July 1, 2019. 

Given the rigor of the application, we recommend that you begin compiling your application materials as early as possible during the application window. Some pieces of the application may take several weeks to create.

Award Process

Round 1: Initial Application

Candidates must complete the online application to be considered for the award. If you are applying as a group of teachers, you will note that in the application. Each teacher will fill out their own application and the team can upload the same responses to the systems change questions.

Application components include:

  • Responses about a change you’ve led in an established policy or practice, including its impact on students.
  • Excerpts from your classroom instruction including a sample teaching video, planning documents, your assessment on the lesson’s impact, etc.
  • Reflections about your own leadership both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Video interview with two students about your classroom.
  • If you are moving on, you will have reflections questions and another opportunity to submit your final student achievement data for the year (if you haven’t already) by 7/22.
  • Want to learn more about “systems change” and our Theory of Leadership? Check out an excerpt from this year’s corps member prework.

Please review the full Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teacher Leadership Application Guide to help you prepare for the online application. You will be notified if you are moving to Round 2 between 7/8 - 7/16.

Round 2: Classroom Reflections and Confirming Student Achievement Data

For candidates moving forward in the process, we will ask you to confirm your final student achievement data for the year. If applying as a group, each teacher must submit student achievement data for their own class.

  • Awards will not be given to an applicant without confirming students’ academic achievement.
  • We will also ask you to share a few reflections on your classroom leadership and student outcomes in the applicant portal.
  • You will find out if you are moving to Round 3 no later than 7/26.

Round 3: Final Interview

Each applicant or team of applicants moving forward in the process will be invited to a virtual interview. Before your interview, you will have a few tasks to complete including a brief interview with a student’s parent/guardian/caretaker, school staff, and/or community members about your leadership.

  • If you are moving on, you will need to upload your resume; a brief interview with a parent/guardian/caretaker, colleague, or community member; and (a final opportunity to upload) your student achievement data for the year (if you haven’t already) by 7/31. This final step could be a tight turnaround, and we recommend having your resume and student achievement data ready in advance. 
  • Each applicant or team of applicants moving forward in the process will be invited to select a virtual interview time slot to attend between 7/31 and 8/8. 
  • After completing Round 3, you will be notified by email if you are a finalist by the end of August. 


    We aim to notify applicants if they have become finalists by the end of August 2019. Winners will be announced and celebrated at an awards ceremony in October 2019.

    Application Resources 


    View our recorded webinar to learn more about the award and application process. 

    If you have any additional questions about the application process, please check out our FAQ resource or reach out to your regional TFA contacts. All other questions can be sent to


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