The award is open to current full-time K-12 classroom teachers of any relevant subject in the United States who have been teaching for at least five years. The Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award recognizes exceptional teachers who further mutual understanding between Americans and Japanese. The award is presented annually to two pre-college teachers in two categories, humanities and Japanese language, and consists of a certificate of recognition, a $2,500 monetary award, and $5,000 in project funds. It is named in honor of Elgin Heinz for his commitment to educating students about Asia as well as for the inspiration he has provided to the field of pre-college education.

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