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​Josh and Judy Weston established the Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching in 1991 to acknowledge and celebrate Montclair Public School teachers who stand out to parents/guardians and students as creative, talented, supportive, inspired, and inspiring!

This spring, sixteen teachers from throughout Montclair Public Schools will be selected to receive individual cash awards of $2000, including one award designated specifically for a special education teacher. Recipients are selected based on nominations from parents/guardians and students. The deadline for all nominations is April 16, 2023.

Today, the awards honor Judy's memory. Judy was a long-time Montclair resident and public school education supporter who was passionate about the vital role that engaged and empathetic educators play in helping every student achieve their full potential.

What is “Inspired Teaching”?

These awards honor both our master teachers and those who are on their way to achieving that status. Inspired teaching combines a range of skills across several core areas. Use these as prompts for your nomination (feel free to speak to one, two, or all three areas). Click on the links to see examples of each area.


How to nominate a teacher:

All parents/guardians of current MPS students and current MPS students themselves are encouraged to submit nominations. Your nomination can be written or submitted as an audio or video recording.  Students can submit photos of their written nomination as well. You can also request a paper form or get technical assistance by emailing The deadline for all nominations is April 16, 2023.


When writing your nomination, help the reviewers see what you see - what makes this nominee special to you and your child?


Personal stories that show how this teacher excels make an impact. Be clear and specific, and give examples or anecdotes that illustrate the teacher’s talent.  Selection is based on what is submitted by parents/guardians and students.

Can I nominate more than one teacher? Yes!  You can nominate as many teachers as you like.  

Can I nominate teachers from past years? Yes, you can nominate teachers you or your student had in previous years. However, only current and tenured MPS teachers are eligible for the awards. 

Who is eligible for a Judy Weston Award for Inspired Teaching?

Any tenured MPS teacher can be nominated by a current parent/guardian or student. Not sure if your teacher is tenured? Submit your nomination anyway, and you will be notified if your teacher is not eligible in the current cycle. 

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selection criteria
How are the winners selected?

Once the nominating period closes, the selection committee will read all of the nominations (without names associated). Then, using the criteria below, the committee will pick at least one teacher from each school to receive an award (two awards will go to the high school). In addition, one award will be set aside for a special education teacher, regardless of their school(s). There are three “at-large” awards that can be given to teachers at any of Montclair’s 11 public schools. 

The selection committee is composed of 12 members, a combination of education professionals and community leaders.

The awardees will be notified at the end of April and presented with their awards in June. All nominees will be announced as well as the awardees, in order to highlight the breadth and depth of excellence in our schools.

About the selection criteria

Please consider the following when you are creating your nomination.  The selection committee will be looking for examples of any of the following - your nomination should include an example of at least one of these criteria.

Teaching that facilitates impactful learning experiences

  • Develops meaningful work that is interesting to students, sparks critical thinking, and is connected to their lives

  • Uses innovative practices to engage learners 

  • Sets high expectations, recognizes progress, and provides critical feedback to help students improve

  • Creates opportunities for students to assess their own learning

  • Provides students with options for engaging in learning and completing assignments

  • Fosters students’ intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth 


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Teaching that supports all students

  • Sets clear learning goals for students

  • Tailors lessons according to the needs of students

  • Offers specific suggestions on how to improve work

  • Has a system of regular check-ins with individual students to assess strengths and weaknesses

  • Conducts varied and consistent ways to check for understanding

  • Explains things in different ways

  • Uses varied instructional strategies to challenge students

  • Demonstrates patience


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Teaching that creates a caring classroom culture that affirms student identities

  • Makes students feel like they are valued members of the classroom and invites student thoughts and opinions 

  • Ensures different backgrounds and perspectives are valued and supported

  • Includes positive representations of diverse people and cultures

  • Creates opportunities for students to build strong relationships with one another

  • Knows the strengths and weakness of each student 

  • Cares about students’ lives outside of the classroom

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Meet the 2023 Selection Committee for the Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching

  • Marilyn Davis, MSU Network for Educational Renewal, Center of Pedagogy

  • Rev. Dr. A. Craig Dunn, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation

  • Dr. Marcheta Evans, President of Bloomfield College

  • Cheryl Hopper, retired MPS principal, former head of MSU school leadership initiatives

  • Kathy Hurling, retired MPS teacher

  • Ellen Luca, Special Education Parent Advisory Council

  • Marcia Marley, Succed2gether

  • JoAnne McCullough, IMANI

  • Tanya Poteat, Montclair Child Development Center

  • June Raegner, Parent Teacher Association Council

  • Joy Scally, retired MPS teacher

  • Janet Torsney, Montclair Public Library

  • Dr. Doris Walker-Bennett, Sister to Sister

  • Naomi Wallace, Montclair YMCA

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