The Woodridge Award for Great Teachers

Photo by Rogerline Johnson, Johnson Studio

The Woodridge Award is presented annually by prominent people to the K-12 teacher who most helped them on their way. The presentation is a highlight of our “Show Teachers the Love!” celebration held each May on National Teacher Day. The Woodridge Award is named in honor of Mattie Woodridge, who taught high school English in Helena, Arkansas during Segregation, a time when white teachers made a disgraceful $625 a year and black teachers earned only half that. After winning her school’s outstanding teacher award four times, Woodridge organized a local Teacher Day to celebrate local teachers. Its success led her to campaign for a national day of recognition for teachers. She successfully enlisted the help of Eleanor Roosevelt and together they lobbied Congress until, in 1953, National Teacher Day was established.