Annual Awards General Information

The Evangelical Lutheran Education Association coordinates 4 different annual award programs for ELCA Schools and Learning Centers:

The ELCA Early Childhood Director of the Year Award
This is an annual award given to an outstanding director of an ELCA early childhood program. Candidates may be nominated by another party by submitting this Nomination Form by March 31. Candidates are then contacted by the ELEA National Office, informing them that they have been nominated and asked to complete the  Application Form by April 15.  While directors do not need to be nominated to apply - you may simply complete the Application Form - it is very nice to be nominated by a colleague!
The ELCA Elementary Principal of the Year Award

This is an annual award given to an outstanding principal of an ELCA elementary school. We recommend that nominees complete the form themselves. If you would like to encourage someone to apply for this award please send them the Information and Criteria Packet today! The ELEA will use the application and instructions provided by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) for the National Distinguished Principal (NDP) award to narrow our candidate pool and will notify the ELCA Elementry Principal of the Year promptly and, if they qualify, submit the materials to the NAESP if the principal has been a member of NAESP for at least three years.

Materials need to be submitted to NAESP prior to their May 6th deadline. NDPs are honored at a special event in Washington, DC each October. For more information or to become a member of NAESP go to

The Distinguished Pastor of the Year Award
This is an annual award established by ELEA as a way to honor pastors of congregations with schools or early childhood centers who have made outstanding contributions to the spiritual leadership of the program. It is a Nomination Process - in other words, the Pastors who are nominated do not have to even know they are being nominated, and they do not have to complete an application - the Nominator does it all! Complete the Nomination Form by March 31.
The Donald A. Vetter Educational Service Award
This is an annual award given by ELEA to an individual who has exemplified the ideals of ELEA and of Lutheran education over a long period of time - a lifetime achievement award. It is named after Donald Vetter, ELEA's founder and first Executive Director. One nomination may come from each of the 9 Regions of the ELCA. To determine which Region you are in, go HERE to find your state. All nominations are submitted to the ELEA National Office using this Nomination Form. This is a Nomination Process - no application is completed by candidates. ELEA's National Board of Directors votes to choose the recipient. Nominations are to be submitted by July 15.

All Award Recipients are honored and acknowledged at the following year's National School Administrator & Pastor Conference.

Award Winners

ELEA honor roll brochure 2022 vs 2-1
ELEA honor roll brochure 2022 vs 2-2