Recognizing extraordinary efforts among educators during the pandemic, the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education will award more teachers with top honors, paying each of their rent or mortgage for a year.
With the opening of nominations for the 12th annual OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education Campaign, OnPoint Community Credit Union recently announced the expansion of its grand prize and up to $100,000 in winnings to remarkable educators and schools. The Educator of the Year grand prize, typically awarded to two teachers each year, will go to three educators in 2021 and will pay each of their rent or mortgage for a full year. In addition to recognizing outstanding educators, the OnPoint Prize will provide five Community Builder Awards for special school projects that need financial support.
OnPoint’s nomination period opens today, February 23, and closes April 13. Click here to nominate an outstanding educator or apply for a Community Builder grant today. OnPoint will announce this year’s Community Builder awardees and Educator of the Year Finalists on May 11.
“We are always inspired by educators in our community, but the innovation and commitment we’ve seen throughout the pandemic has surpassed expectations,” said Rob Stuart, president and chief executive officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “Now more than ever, we’re called to help lift up our teachers, celebrating their efforts to educate and engage our young people through the challenges of this past year. I invite our community to nominate educators who are sparking enthusiasm and passion in students, parents and their communities.”
Since the OnPoint Prize began in 2010, OnPoint has awarded more than $470,000 in prizes to 285 local educators and schools. This year’s awards include:
- Educators of the Year
- Grand Prize: Three teachers, one each for elementary (grades K-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) will have their rent or mortgage paid for one full year and $2,500 donated to their schools.
- Finalists Three teachers, one each for elementary (grades K-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) will receive a $5,000 cash award and a $1,500 donation to their schools.
- Community Builder Awards
- One school, selected by community votes, will receive $5,000.
- Four schools will receive $2,000 for a special project that will positively impact their school or community.
2020 Prize Winners Reflect on Their Awards
Carolyn Biskupic Knight, a fourth-grade teacher at Sato Elementary in the Beaverton School District, and Kerryn Henderson, AP Biology and AVID teacher at Parkrose High School in the Parkrose School District, were named OnPoint’s 2020 Educators of the Year.
Biskupic Knight, the K-5 Educator of the Year for 2020, is a nationally-recognized leader in science education whose teaching model has been adopted across her district, the state of Oregon, and the nation. With more than 40 years of experience in the classroom, she fosters student engagement by giving them tools to explore and observe the world around them, work effectively with others, and communicate their experiences. Biskupic Knight has evolved her teaching model to be effective throughout remote learning while also dealing with significant personal challenges. She’s caring for her husband, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“OnPoint’s financial support has been a huge relief as I navigate not only the challenges of COVID-19, but also ensuring care for my husband,” said Biskupic Knight. “I cannot thank OnPoint enough for what they’ve done for my family and the entire education community. The OnPoint Prize brings much-needed recognition to the hard and outstanding work of my colleagues and our profession, especially when we’re doing more than ever before to engage our students under unusual circumstances.”
Henderson, the 9-12 Educator of the Year for 2020, has also developed novel approaches to teaching. Henderson helps her Biology students explore concepts through simulation, games, modeling, role-play and even songwriting. She is also an AVID teacher (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which means she has special training for developing future first-generation college students and closing the opportunity gap.
In 2020, OnPoint also gave out five Community Builder Awards to schools that needed funding to complete special projects. The $5,000 grand prize, selected by community votes, went to Grout Elementary in Southeast Portland. The award is helping fund repairs to the school’s track-and-field facilities, where uneven soil and bare surfaces caused more than 35 injuries in 2019. Even though Grout students are not currently attending school on campus, volunteers with the Grout Grounds Improvement Project have re-seeded and flattened the field’s surface, making significant headway in creating a safe place for play.
“On behalf of the Grout Parent Teacher Association, I want to thank OnPoint for the Community Builders 2020 award,” said Julie Bolstad, president of the Grout Parent Teacher Association and parent of three students at Grout Elementary School. “The field is safer not just for our students, but also for the entire community. We have seen reduced vandalism and increased community usage throughout the pandemic. The dedication of our PTA, volunteers and students, with financial support from OnPoint, has truly made a difference for Grout Elementary.”
The Community Builder Award recognizes projects that inspire creativity, foster community, demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and reach a broad segment of the school community. The four additional school projects that received $2,000 awards last year include Atkinson Elementary’s Gardening and Cultural Cooking Project, Clear Creek Middle School’s Tomorrow Bus Project, Sandy High School’s Pioneer Digital Media Sports Broadcasting program, and Sifton Elementary’s After School Club.
About the Nomination Process
Information about the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education and nomination forms are now available at onpointprize.com. Anyone can nominate an educator, and educators may also nominate themselves. Applicants must be a full-time or job-share classroom teacher, counselor or librarian for grades K-12 in an accredited public, private, or charter school located within any county that OnPoint serves. OnPoint also accepts applications for the Community Builders Awards within those same counties. For information about the campaign, additional qualifications and contest rules, visit onpointprize.com.