Distinguished Service Awards

NAESP recognizes outstanding individuals for their distinguished service to children or to education.

Award Types

Distinguished Service to Children

This award celebrates the work of individuals who have demonstrated dedicated advocacy on behalf of children, greatly improving the lives of children and youth nationally and/or globally.

Distinguished Service to Education

This award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding educational contributions, improving the education of children and youth nationally and/or globally.

NAESP Hero in Education

During the 2000 National Distinguished Principals program, NAESP proudly presented U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley with the NAESP Hero in Education Award, in recognition of his lifetime achievement — in improving the quality of life and education for our nation’s children and youth, while fostering greater understanding of education internationally.

Honorees

2016 Distinguished Service to Education

Dr. Keith Miller, Director of U.S. Department of Overseas Schools, U.S. Department of State

2016 Distinguished Service

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

2013 Distinguished Service to Education

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Principal, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, Connecticut (posthumously awarded)

2009 Distinguished Service to Education

Edward M. Kennedy, Senator, Massachusetts

2007 Distinguished Service to Children and Education

Vincent L. Ferrandino, NAESP Executive Director (1999-2007)

2003 Distinguished Service to Children

Peter Yarrow, Singer/Songwriter

2003 Distinguished Service to Children

Fred Rogers, Founder of Operation Respect Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (posthumously awarded)

2002 Distinguished Service to Children

Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Surgeon, Author

2001 Distinguished Service to Education

Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

2000 NAESP Hero in Education

The Honorable Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education, 1992-2000 (presented for lifetime achievement)

1999 Distinguished Service to Children and Education

Samuel Sava, NAESP Executive Director Emeritus

1998 Distinguished Service to Children

The Honorable Richard. W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education

1997 Distinguished Service to Education

Barbara Pierce Bush, Former First Lady

1996 Distinguished Service to Children

Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund

1996 Distinguished Service to Children

Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady

1995 Distinguished Service to Children

Ernest L. Boyer, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

1991 Distinguished Service to Education

Edward P. Keller, Deputy Executive Director, NAESP (presented on his retirement)

1991 Distinguished Service to Children

The Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins, Former Chairman Education and Labor Committee, U.S. House of Representatives

1988 Distinguished Service to Children

C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General

1988 Distinguished Service to Children

C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General

1987 Distinguished Service to Children

R. Bruce Reinecker, Lifetouch National School Studios

1984 Distinguished Service to Children

Phillip Caldwell, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Ford Motor Company

1984 Distinguished Service to Children

Nancy Reagan, First Lady

1984 Distinguished Service to Children

Dr. Frances O. Kelsey, Food & Drug Administration

1983 Distinguished Service to Education

The Honorable Shirley Chisholm, U.S. House of Representatives

1983 Distinguished Service to Education

David Rockefeller, Jr., Chairman, Rockefeller Center

1983 Distinguished Service to Children

Jonas Salk, M.D., Medical Researcher

1982 Distinguished Service to Education

Arthur Holden, Jr., Chairman, Martha Holden Jennings Foundation

1982 Distinguished Service to Children

Theodor Seuss Geisel, Author