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 Frequent WEM Outstanding Educator Award Program Questions
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If you have questions that are not addressed here or in the application instructions, please contact Synergy & Leadership Exchange or
Frequent WEM Outstanding Educator Award Program Questions

Is this program legitimate, are there strings attached, do I have to purchase something to apply?
The program is sponsored by the WEM Foundation and administered by Synergy & Leadership Exchange (Synergy). There is no entrance fee or items to purchase. Honorees are awarded a trophy, one-year membership to Synergy and a monetary gift from the WEM foundation. There are no restrictions on your use or donation of this gift, though state and federal taxes do apply.
What does WEM stand for?
WEM is short for the WEM Foundation, a private foundation based in Minnesota. The benefactors wish to remain anonymous. The foundation established the recognition program in 1998 and partners with Synergy to administer the award.
What does the award include?
Honorees receive a trophy, one-year membership to Synergy and a monetary gift. Each state honoree receives $15,000 and each semi-finalist receives $1,500. The gifts presented to state honorees and semi-finalists are unrestricted in their use; honorees are given the option of donating any portion of the award to a cause of their choice. State and federal taxes apply to the award.
Why should I apply for this award?
The application process offers the opportunity for an educator to reflect on their teaching and honor their accomplishments as well as those of their students, colleagues and school.
Who nominated me for this award?
Nominations may be placed by students, parents, colleagues, administrators or other community members. You may request the name of your nominator from Synergy, though some nominators choose to remain anonymous.
Can I be nominated more than once?
Yes, you can be nominated each year and for more than one category. If you have been named a state WEM honoree in any category, you are no longer eligible to apply.
Do I have to be a licensed teacher?
Yes, you must have a current Minnesota teacher’s license for K-12 education.
Do I have to be actively teaching to apply?
Individuals with a current teaching license who are teaching in some capacity, whether full-time or part-time, may be nominated and are eligible to apply.
Can I apply if I am an administrator?
Administrators are eligible for an Ethics in Education award.
Can I apply more than once?
You are eligible to apply to more than one category (as appropriate) each year you have been nominated unless you have been named a state honoree. Semi-finalists automatically qualify for the subsequent year’s program.
Can I apply if I have already received a WEM Outstanding Educator award?
Semi-finalists are automatically eligible for the following year’s program. After one year’s time, prior semi-finalists must be nominated again to be eligible to apply. Those who have won a state award are no longer eligible to apply.
Can I apply if I have received other teaching honors/recognitions?
Yes, unless you have received a substantial monetary award in conjunction with any past honor other than a regional WEM Outstanding Educator award.
Why do nominees complete the application and not the person who placed the nomination?
This process allows for a more in-depth look at the candidate through the applicant’s personal reflection and additional information that may not be known to the nominator. Many candidates ask their nominator to write one of their three letters of recommendation.
Does the entire reflection need to be under 300-400 words, or is that word limit for each prompt?
The word limit of 300-400 words is for each prompt.
Can I use a previous application if I have been nominated before?
Yes, you are able to use a previous application for up to two years but it is recommended you review the materials for any changes that have been made to the program. It is to your benefit to update the information and materials you submit to give the judges the clearest, most current picture of you as an educator.
Can I send more than three letters of recommendation?
No, only three letters of recommendation will be included in the materials given to the WEM Blue Ribbon Panel.
Do I have to include a letter from my administrator?
Yes, one of your three letters of recommendation must be from a current administrator.
Can I include letters of recommendation that have previously been written on my behalf?
Yes, but letters of recommendation that specifically address the criteria of the category to which you have been nominated will give a clearer picture of you and may be more helpful in the review of your application.
How should I submit my application?
Synergy prefers you submit your application via email to Materials should be sent as PDF or Word documents. Applications will also be accepted by mail to Synergy & Leadership Exchange, 2075 Lookout Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003. If applications are mailed, please do not bind or staple. Applications must arrive by the due date.
What happens after I submit my application?
You will receive email notification of receipt of your application. Synergy will review the application to confirm that all requested information is included. You will be contacted by Synergy if information is missing.
After the application deadline, a panel begins the preliminary evaluation process. All applications are reviewed and evaluated according to the criteria for each category; the highest scoring applications move to a final round of judging by a Blue Ribbon Panel.
The Blue Ribbon Panel continues the extensive review and evaluation process in February and makes recommendations to Synergy for the state and regional honorees in each category. Synergy staff verifies credentials of the honorees and coordinates awards announcements by the end of May. Following the notification of the state honorees, regional honorees are notified by mid-June. At that time, honoree information is posted on the Synergy website and all applicants receive a nomination certificate and notification of the award winners.
What is the Excellence in Education Award?
Excellence in Education Award honorees have dedicated their lives to educating others. Many of these honorees do so outside the traditional classroom setting (see past honorees) and are not required to have a Minnesota teaching license for this award. Nominations of worthy candidates are accepted and reviewed by Synergy. Nominees do not complete an application, their lifetime of accomplishments, dedication to education and impact on others speaks for itself. Awards may not be given on an annual basis.


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2075 Lookout Drive
North Mankato, MN 56003
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