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Dos and Don’ts for Successful Award Nominations

ACSA’s annual Awards Program recognizes administrators, educational leaders and community partnership programs in 26 award categories. The nomination window opens each year on Aug. 1 and nominations are due in mid-January.

Following are tips and suggestions for creating the best possible nominations.

Do: Plan ahead.

It’s not too soon to begin collecting the information you need now; this will ensure you have enough time to complete your submissions. The helpful resource Everything You Need to Nominate lists out the required information and criteria for each award category and can help you get started.

How to plan ahead:

  • Send requests for letters of recommendation to supervisors and/or district leaders and set reminders for yourself so you don’t forget to follow up.
  • Collect basic information on the nominee, including the year they joined ACSA and their work history.
  • Begin researching and writing the short paragraph criteria explanations.

Nominations are due in late January, but there’s nothing to prevent you from submitting sooner. You can create your nomination today and go back as many times as you need to edit, expand and refine, even making changes to submitted forms up until the deadline.

Do: Watch a tutorial.

For those unfamiliar with the online platform, a short video tutorial is available. Visit www.acsa.org/awards and click on the “Help & Resources” tab to view the video.

It’s not too soon to begin collecting the information you need now; this will ensure you have enough time to complete your submissions.

Do: Save your work offline.

Make sure you have a copy of your nomination data saved on your desktop or backup drive as you complete the form. With a web-based platform, a network interruption could wipe out your work before you have a chance to hit save.

Do: Collaborate online.

Use a service like Dropbox, Microsoft Teams or Google Drive to collaborate with others, as well as to back up your nominations.

Do: Talk about the outcome rather than the process.

The details of how a mission was accomplished are not as important as the benefits and changes it produced. Focus on sharing about the impacts of the nominee’s work in their role and career, providing specific examples.

Do: Get help from experts.

Consider working with a professional writer or editor to compose and/or proofread your criteria explanations. Concise, well-written responses will go a long way in making sure your nominees stand out.

Do: Review one last time.

Read your nomination one last time with fresh eyes or have someone give it one final read for you. Imagine you are on the awards committee reviewing as many as 400 nomination forms — what will make your nominee stand out? Does the nomination fully convey how outstanding they are?

Do: Submit nominations on time.

Nominations are due in mid-January through the online awards platform. Reminders will be sent up to the day of the deadline to anyone with a draft nomination for the current program year, but once the nomination window closes, you’ll no longer have access to edit or submit your forms.

Do: Follow up.

You’ll receive a confirmation email when your nomination has been submitted successfully and you’ll be able to see the status of your nominations online on your account. Check your spam folder if you don’t see a confirmation email.

Don’t: Leave it to the last minute.

The nomination window opens in August, and yet many nominators wait until the final week of the deadline and end up running out of time. Life is unpredictable, and we know January can be a busy month depending on what’s happening in schools. Don’t assume you’ll be able to complete the form at the last minute.

Don’t: Forget to include a letter of recommendation.

A minimum of one letter of recommendation is required at the state level. Prioritize letters from superintendents and supervisors, followed by testimonials from colleagues, community members and parents, people who can speak to the excellence and record of the nominee. There is a file size limit, but no page or document limit.

Life is unpredictable, and we know January can be a busy month depending on what’s happening in schools. Don’t assume you’ll be able to complete the form at the last minute.

Don’t: Leave out specific examples or provide incorrect information.

Include verifiable accomplishments that explain exactly how the nominee has excelled in each of the criteria explanations. Give specific examples of what the nominee has accomplished. Make sure that any data, awards, grants or other achievements are listed correctly.

Major pitfalls to avoid:

  • Criteria explanations and supporting documents with spelling or grammatical errors or incorrect information.
  • Nominating non-ACSA members for awards requiring membership for eligibility.
  • Nominating current ACSA Board members or ACSA employees.
  • Missing the deadline.

Online resources

Get help: Award information, tips, resources, FAQ and the link to access the nomination platform are available online at: www.acsa.org/awards.

Start your nomination: The nomination platform can be accessed directly from any desktop or mobile device at acsa.awardsplatform.com.

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