American Civic Education Teacher Awards

American Civic Education Teacher Awards logo


A free society must rely on the civic knowledge, skills, and virtue of its citizens and those they elect to public office. Schools bear a special and historic responsibility for developing civic competence and civic responsibility through both formal and informal curricula, beginning in the earliest grades and continuing through the entire educational process. Civic education, therefore, is essential to preserving and improving American constitutional democracy. To this end, the important role of teachers in preparing young people for the obligations of citizenship cannot be overstated.

The Center for Civic Education, the Center on Representative Government at Indiana University, and the National Education Association conduct an annual program to honor American teachers of civics, government, and related fields. Titled the American Civic Education Teacher Awards (ACETA), the program promotes national recognition and respect for the teaching profession as a whole and for teachers of civic education in particular. The awards honor elementary and secondary civic education teachers who have demonstrated special expertise in teaching about the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress, and public policy at the state and local levels.

Goals of the Program

Through American Civic Education Teacher Awards, selected civics and government teachers are recognized both for their excellent work and as representatives of their profession. The ACETA program also informs the public of the challenges of teaching and the different conditions under which teachers serve the public good.

ACETA aims to pay tribute to elementary and secondary school teachers representing

  • the teaching of civic education for democracy, whether it is in separate civics or government classes,
  • the diverse populations of today’s schools, and
  • different geographic regions of the United States.

Selection Committee and Sponsoring Organizations

The partnering organizations who select teachers for this prestigious award include: 

  • The Center for Civic Education
  • Center on Representative Government at Indiana University
  • National Education Association

Application Process

By May 1, 2023:

  • Teachers apply using the application form linked below. 
  • Teacher applicants share the recommendation forms with their principal and teaching peer to complete by the same deadline.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants must be full-time classroom teachers of grades K–12. Substitute teachers and part-time teachers are not eligible.
  • Applicants must plan to teach full-time during the 2023–2024 academic year.
  • Applicants must be United States citizens or foreign nationals residing in the United States or its territories.
  • Employees of the Center for Civic Education, the Center on Representative Government, and the National Education Association and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Selected teachers must agree to participate in publicity efforts for ACETA.

Selection Criteria

The selection committee does not have a single model teacher in mind but selects teachers with different styles, methods, backgrounds, and types of students. Through this award, they intend to provide the public with a portrait of the broad range of excellent teachers contributing to the civic education of the American student.


The selection committee will give additional consideration to teachers of students in the following categories:

  • Ethnic and racial minorities
  • Recent immigrants
  • Disabled and special education
  • Gifted and talented
  • Juvenile justice

Geographic Diversity

Application Requirements

This award seeks to recognize teachers across geographic diversity and includes all teachers in the United States' rural, suburban, and urban areas.

  • Applicants must fully complete all components of the online forms by May 1, 2023. Partial or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. There is no fee to enter.
  • Letters of recommendation from the school principal and one teaching peer must be submitted on the official forms linked in these instructions.
  • Applicant online application with resume (maximum two pages) and applicant self-portrait available in the same application form.
  • Winners should be available to travel to the National Council for Social Studies annual conference, where they will be honored as well as participating in a dedicated panel presentation on civic education promising practices.

General Application Instructions

  1. The teacher application will include biographical information, uploading of a resume (no longer than 2 pages), and submission (typed entry or file upload) of a self-portrait. Consider having these documents or texts ready for when you begin the application.
  2. In this self-portrait, teachers will explain their style and method of teaching in a manner understandable to a reviewer who might not be an expert in pedagogy or the vernacular of the profession. They should also explain what other civic educators might consider exemplary about their accomplishments in teaching civics, government, and related fields and sharing their knowledge with colleagues and students. The self-portrait must be composed by the applicant. When preparing your self-portrait, consider the following:
    • Use an authentic voice. Resist the impulse to restate accomplishments listed on your resume or to give a chronological biography. Separate yourself by showing what it means to you and your students to be engaged in civic education in your classroom. 
    • Cite specific examples where appropriate. It might be helpful to refer to the selection criteria mentioned earlier.
    • You can reference relevant awards, accomplishments, and milestones that are listed in your resume. 
    • Submit text only; no graphics, photographs, or videos will be accepted.
  3. Your application must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation: one from your school principal and one teaching peer. If your principal is unavailable, a letter from the superintendent or another administrator with direct supervisory knowledge of your teaching can be accepted as a substitute. Please ensure that you have asked all recommenders to submit the letters of recommendation via the appropriate form.


  • Confirm your eligibility.
  • Prepare a resume (maximum two pages) to include with your online application.
  • Write a self-portrait (personal statement) to include with your online application.
  • Accurately complete and submit the online application form no later than May 1, 2023.
  • Ask your principal and one colleague to complete letters of recommendation on your behalf by May 1, 2023.
  • Confirm your principal and teaching peer to complete the letters of recommendation form by May 1, 2023.

Quick Links

Click here to see past ACETA Award winners


CCE LogoThis site is brought to you by the Center for Civic Education. The Center's mission is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy. The Center has reached more than 30 million students and their teachers since 1965. Learn more.

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