Nominate a Deserving Soul

Now accepting nominations for WAETAG’s Distinguished Leadership Awards.

Nominations are now closed for 2023.
Thank you for all the wonderful nominations.

Each year WAETAG honors individuals within Washington state that exemplify outstanding dedication to empowering educators and communities in supporting the educational and emotional development of talented and gifted students.

Do you know of someone who deserves recognition for their work in our Gifted Education community?  You can nominate a dedicated educator, leader, and/or advocate.
Nominate them above.

Nomination Deadline: September 29, 2023
Awardees will be notified via email by October 1, 2023.

Summary of Awards

Distinguished Educator of the Gifted

This award is presented to educators who are honoring the promise of research-based instruction for their gifted/highly capable students. The recipient of this award has crafted an individualized, dynamic, challenging, and engaging practice, creating transformative learning experiences for students. This educator emphasizes the development, practice, and transfer of advanced knowledge and skills across environments. This educator effectively collaborates with families, other educators, and related service providers to promote and advocate for the learning and well-being of individuals with gifts and talents across settings. (NAGC Standards 4, 9 and 10)

Selection Criteria

Viable candidates will have a proven record of at least four of the following:

    • Demonstrates an iterative, reflective teaching practice with evidence of pedagogical experimentation and refinement over time
    • Commits to inclusive teaching and mentoring and building upon students’ experiences
    • Creates transformative learning experiences that foster deep reflection and critical inquiry
    • Engages in community service in gifted education (i.e. volunteering WAETAG, NWGifted)
    • Facilitates the social and emotional development of gifted and talented students
    • Differentiates instruction in the classroom by adjusting teaching methods, modifying curriculum and/or strategies to meet the diverse needs of advanced learners (i.e. higher order thinking, UDL, questioning, concept-based instruction, PBL, & PrBL, novel engineering, etc.)
    • Leads teacher professional development and/or student/family workshop(s).
    • Writes/Publishes content related to gifted education and advanced learning.
    • Serves as a mentor, collaborator, and consultant to other educators.

The Dr. Jann Leppien Award for Distinguished Leadership

This award is presented to an instructional leader (coach, coordinator, or administrator) who gives voice to and influences the growth and development of students and educators in the field of gifted education. The recipient of this award has invested their mind and heart in maximizing the potential of educators and students alike in their community and/or state. This individual is an exceptional mentor, collaborator, and guiding light in our field. (NAGC Standards 3, 5, 6 & 7)

Selection Criteria

Viable candidates will have a proven record of at least four of the following:

    • Inspires their colleagues, convinces them of their own capacity to improve, and supports them with a range of resources and coaching moves; encouraging a culture of experimentation.
    • Provides leadership to formulate goals, set and meet high professional expectations, advocate for effective policies and evidence-based practices, and create positive and productive environments.
    • Uses foundational knowledge of the field and professional ethical principles and Program Standards to inform gifted/highly capable education practice, engage in lifelong learning, advance the profession, and perform leadership responsibilities to promote the success of professional colleagues and gifted/highly capable students.
    • Designs and implements research activities to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional practices and to assess progress toward the organizational vision, mission, and goals of their programs. 
    • Uses their understanding of the effects of cultural, social, and economic diversity and variations of individual development to inform their development of programs and services for individuals with exceptional learning needs. 
    • Applies their knowledge of cognitive science, learning theory, and instructional technologies to improve instructional programs at the school- wide and system-wide levels. 
    • Assesses professional development needs to develop and monitor plans and provides training that systematically meets the identified needs of educators and gifted/highly capable students
    • Collaborates with stakeholders to improve programs, services, and outcomes for individuals with gifts and talents and their families.

Barbara Poyneer Award for Advocacy of Gifted/Highly Capable Education 

This award is presented to an individual or group that has successfully advocated at the district, state, or federal level to promote gifted education, in a significant and meaningful way, into the larger community, state, or nation. The recipient has taken actions to benefit the development of gifts and talents in young people through their work to develop or strengthen gifted education policy at the district, state, or federal level. (NAGC Advanced Standards 5, 6)

Selection Criteria

Viable candidates will have a proven record of at least four of the following:

  • Organizes supportive action that has directly led to the improvement of gifted/highly capable education programs or services.
  • Persuades elected officials or other decision makers to support changes in policy and/or legislation to significantly improve education programs and/or services for gifted/highly capable students and their school communities.
  • Influences the media, the general public, and/or parents and school communities of gifted/highly capable students in order to achieve the public policy goal.
  • Successfully impacted change in their state or community by working with state legislators to identify, fund, and be accountable to gifted/highly capable students.
  • Creates and coordinates initiatives that provide increased service to members of the gifted/highly capable community. (Examples could include coordinated special events, contributing to the development and funding for ongoing awards, or making major contributions to organization events, such as conferences or other special events.).
  • Receives grant funding for and successfully completed several projects related to gifted/highly capable education, which enhanced the field.
  • Develops unique contribution to the field in a leadership role at the local or state level (innovative program design or extended opportunities).
  • Serves on state, organizational, or local committees to advocate for the development of gifts and talents in young people.

Kari DeMarco Lifetime Achievement Award

The Kari DeMarco Award is a recognition for individuals who have made extraordinary, significant, and sustained contributions to the field of gifted education in Washington state.  Kari DeMarco was someone whose personality was only matched by her smile and the pure joy she brought into the lives of those she met. She was a loving, passionate mom to her five children. But her “extended professional family,” included countless educators, students, and families whose lives she touched. 

Kari DeMarco served on the WAETAG board for many years, a constant champion for children her entire life. Her impact as an advocate, a mentor, and ally shepherded many of us in the field of gifted education and she freely offered mentorship and resources to any of us that called or visited with her.  (NAGC Advanced Standards in Gifted 2, 3, 6, 7)

Selection Criteria:

Viable candidates will have a proven record from these categories:

  • Demonstrates dedication to students and gifted education over a significant period of time.
  • Models their own commitment to continuously improving their own professional practice by participating in professional development themselves and promotes the success of professional colleagues and gifted/highly capable students.
  • Demonstrates an eagerness to invest in others. Inspires and guides colleagues with program and service support, convinces them of their own capacity to improve, and supports them with a range of resources and coaching moves; encouraging a culture of experimentation.
  • Has a deep understanding of the possible interactions of language, diversity, culture and religion with contextual factors and how to use collaboration and consultation to enhance opportunities for individuals with exceptional learning needs. 

Dedication to Excellence/Award for Extraordinary Service in WAETAG

The Award for Extraordinary Service is given when the WAETAG Board seeks to recognize publicly an individual whose dedication, through long-term and substantive effort, made transformational contributions to the work of WAETAG. The organization we know today bears the imprint of their dedication and service. This award serves to recognize individuals who have played critical roles in the organization’s success. 

(candidates may be board or committee members)

Nominations are requested by and voted on by membership with the final decision made by the Executive Board.


Email sharing description and request

Email sharing nomination(s) with description of why, and request vote

Announcement made at annual meeting

Congratulations to Our Past Awardees!

Thank you for the amazing work you do.

2022 Recipients

Andy Bishop
Andy Bishop

Distinguished Educator Award

LeAnn Nunamaker

Distinguished Leadership Award

2019 Recipients

Lynn Devora-McNabb, Distinguished Educator 2019
Jeff Stroebel, Distinguished Leadership Award 2019

2018 Recipients

Austina De Bonte, Advocacy Award 2018