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aMAzing Educators

Sontag Prize in Education

The Sontag Prize in Education is an annual award that recognizes and celebrates outstanding educators for their teaching excellence.

First-time Sontag Prize recipients receive:

  • A $3,000 honorarium
  • An invitation to an awards dinner gala
  • Professional development led by leading education practitioners and researchers

Educators who are selected for and accept the Sontag Prize expand their impact by committing to teach in an Acceleration Academy, a week-long academic program designed to accelerate student learning through engaging, standards-aligned lessons. During the Acceleration Academies, each content teacher is paired with a small group of students (10–12) for the entire week, and teachers are given the autonomy to design lessons based on their students' specific needs. Students who attend an Acceleration Academy receive the equivalent of an extra month of learning in just one week!

The Acceleration Academies take place during the February and April school breaks in Massachusetts, with a focus on English language arts in February and math and science in April.

Application Process and Timeline

The Sontag Prize application opens October 1.

Application Timeline

  • Application Opens — October 1
  • Application Deadline — November 30 at 11:59 PM EST
  • Sontag Prize Winners Announced — Late December/Early January

Eligibility Requirements

Educators who teach reading and writing, math, science, or specials (physical education, music, art, etc.) can apply.

Overview of Application

The application is designed to give applicants the opportunity to provide evidence of their deep content knowledge, pedagogical expertise, and positive impact on student learning and achievement.

The Sontag Prize application consists of the following sections:

  • Employment/Work History — In this section, applicants will provide employment/work history information, a resume, contact information for a supervisor reference, and voluntary demographic information
  • Program and Location Interest — In this section, applicants will indicate which districts they are interested in being placed in, which Acceleration Academy they are interested in teaching in, and which grade level and subject area they would like to teach
  • Written Response — In this section, applicants are given the opportunity to provide evidence of their deep content knowledge, pedagogical expertise, and positive impact on student learning and achievement

When applying for the Sontag Prize, applicants can select which Acceleration Academy programs (February, April, or both) and locations (see below) they are interested in if awarded the Prize. All applicants will fill out one common application, but the application will adapt based on the Acceleration Academy and subject area an applicant indicates interest in on the application. For instance, if an applicant indicates an interest in teaching ELA during the February Acceleration Academies, the application will adapt so that the applicant only answers questions related to ELA. If an applicant indicates an interest in both Acceleration Academies and multiple subject areas, the applicant will be prompted to answer questions related to the all selected subject areas.

Applicants who are awarded the Sontag Prize will only be placed in an Acceleration Academy program and location in which they have indicated interest. Applicants who indicated interest in both Acceleration Academy programs could be awarded the Sontag Prize to teach in one or both programs.

Acceleration Academy Locations

Sontag Prize recipients who live more than 50 miles from their Acceleration Academy district placement will be provided transportation (or mileage reimbursements) and lodging, if requested.

  • Chelsea Public Schools
  • Holyoke Public Schools
  • Lawrence Public Schools
  • New Bedford Public Schools
  • Southbridge Public Schools

Acceleration Academy Dates

  • February Acceleration Academies: February 17 – 21, 2020
  • April Acceleration Academies: April 20 – 24, 2020

Sontag Prize Professional Development and Awards Ceremony Dates (Tentative)

  • February 15, 2020 (Tentative) — for first-time Sontag Prize recipients teaching in the February Acceleration Academies

  • April 18, 2020 (Tentative) — for first-time Sontag Prize recipients teaching in the April Acceleration Academies

Final dates will be posted before the application closes.

If you have questions about the Sontag Prize and Acceleration Academies, please send an email to and write Sontag Prize" in the email's subject line.

Last Updated: September 27, 2019

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.