Who’s Who Among American Teachers

[UPDATE ON 2/2008: Honoring.com reportst that Who’s Who Among American Teachers has ceased publication, along with the National Deans List and other books of this sort. See www.honoring.com for details].

Along with about 100,000 other teachers out there, I received a letter from Who’s Who Among American Teachers(r), informing me that I have been nominated “by a student who recommended [me] because [I] made a difference in his or her life” for inclusion in their Who’s Who book, joining “a select 5% of our nation’s teachers.”

While it’s quite nice to be recognized by a former student, I’m feeling rather cynical about this, and did a little snooping online to find out more. A discussion of this matter is going on at A to Z Teacher Stuff Forum that sheds light on how others feel about being nominated. And it seems there are a LOT of others. Most seem to suggest it’s something of a ponzi scheme, because the student who nominates a teacher has to have also appeared in a similar book, like the National Dean’s List(R). They don’t make you buy a copy of the book ($100) to get listed in it, but they still try to prey on recipient’s pride in this way to turn a profit. It seems naive to think of this as a true honor, despite the student nominator’s kind intent. As one blogger posted on the A to Z forum, playing along with the Who’s Who request “tells a superintendent that you are naive, inexperienced, and provincial…If you want to see your name in print, write a book.”

Still: When I searched google on the topic, a number of press releases from campuses and schools turned up, with smiling teachers receiving plaques from their superintendents and presidents. The Who’s Who organization belongs to several reputable organizations, like the American Library Association and others. And the Who’s Who Among American Teachers(r) site itself seems innocent enough, and even offers some interesting research on attitudes and opinions about academic issues worth burrowing around in.

Even so, I’m very unlikely to participate. Anyone else out there have experience with this?

Because my blog software blocks comments after so many months and requires arduous management for adding new ones, I have closed discussion on this popular topic. Although this posting is very popular, I do not publish more than 50 comments on any one given entry, and am closing this one down. If you do post a comment, I’m sorry to report that it will be deleted.

Congratulations again to all nominees; regardless of your stance on this matter, there are a LOT of great teachers out there who clearly deserve awards, if not a medal.

[UPDATE ON 2/2008: Honoring.com reports that Who’s Who Among American Teachers has ceased publication, along with the National Deans List and other books of this sort. See www.honoring.com for details].


Published by

Michael Arnzen

Professor of English, Seton Hill University.

61 thoughts on “Who’s Who Among American Teachers”

  1. I was nominated last year by a student I know and would have expected to nominate me. I went ahead and filled it out, but that was it. I have resisted the temptation to buy a book or a mug or a plaque or get a credit card through them or do anything else. I received a second nomination this year. There was no student named, and I KNOW that the original nominating student is not in school any longer, so I know he didn’t re-nominate me. My guess is that they keep including you until you break down and buy something. I have filled out the stuff again this year because I want to test my hypothesis. If I am right I should continue to be nominated from now till the end of time.
    But then again, I might be overly cynical. I have been accused of that before.

  2. I have been nominated a few times over the last several years. It’s true that the organization tries to pump you for money…and that’s annoying.
    The thing I do like, though, is that a couple of times a year, WW asks me to nominate students. A lot of kids feel like this is a significant piece of recognition (even though it may not be). I like to be able to single out those good students who aren’t “good enough” to win all the typical school awards. Why shouldn’t they have a little reward?

  3. I just received the same letter in the mail. I was rather surprised to see my exact feelings in the post.
    I just cannot feel terribly “honored” when the “honor” is really a request for money.
    The only complication in my feelings is that the student in question was very kind to think of me and nominate me.
    My inclination at this point is to accept the true honor- that a student thought kindly of me- and pass on the fake honor that seems to have a price tag attached.

  4. Someone needs to set up a webpage or something where students or parents can nominate teachers; purify the process by taking the money-making aspect out of it.

  5. When I worked in high schools and taught creative writing, I got several of these “awards,” and while I agree that there is more than a whiff of financial gain for the business, I was always flattered that I had students who thought enough of me to nominate me. And I did, one year, buy the book.

  6. Students get the same kinds of solicitations. I was nominated by a professor for the “All American Scholar Collegiate Directory.” I submitted a picture and a bio, and I bought the book (hey, I was a naive freshman!). But it was really a moneymaking scheme. They just wanted me to buy books and t-shirts and commemorative pins. Plus, the official certificates they sent out were BLANK–they wanted us to write our own names on them!!!!!
    It’s great to be nominated, but in the grand scheme of things, I’ll probably get laughed at if I put this on my resume.

  7. “Who�s Who Among American Teachers� honors those educators nominated by students from Who�s Who Among American High School Students�”
    I didn’t get past the first sentence on their page. Any high school guidence counslor will tell you that the Who�s Who Among American High School Students is a meaningless scam. If you have to be in that book to rec a teacher, then…
    There is absolutely no criteria for Who�s Who Among American High School Students, so I don’t imagine there would be one for closely linked version for teachers.
    This is a shame since the Who’s Who books in other fields actually mean something. The recs are checked, and voted on.
    If there is an actual honor like this, I would be more than happy to nominate Mike for the award. He was an excellent mentor, and deserves such an award.

  8. From their site:
    “Who�s Who of Among Americas Teachers is dedicated to the advancement of high school student education in America.”
    So it’s not even supposed to be for college teachers.

  9. I received the honor as well and cashed my check for this book . It is not the money it is the fact that I love my job and felt deeply honor being nominated., I only hope that this is not a hoax and that I was not misled

  10. This Who’s Who thing is intresting. After researching the company I am sure that it is just another money-making ploy. I am acutally only a teacher canidate at the moment. My impact with students lives has not been past first grade, I have not worked with any student who would be in high school. What a laugh, a college student given an honor for something that she couldn’t have done.

  11. I was supposedly nimonated by a former student. It is a great honor, but if the group had done their research they would have found out I am a library paraprofessional, not a certified teacher. Also I have never worked in High School just elementary and middle. As I said I am honoered but also very suspicious.

  12. I received my letter today. I would be interested in knowing who the student is that nominated me. It is not that I don’t believe that a student would nominate me, but I wonder if they use that as a scam to get you interested in buying the book?

  13. I’m a paraprofessional also. I work with High School students but I would still be very interested in knowing who nominated me.

  14. I too received the letter in the mail.
    One should recognize Marquis (publishers of “Who’s Who in America”) has a book called “Who’s Who IN American Education,” which has listings of 20,000 people in all levels of the education field.
    So the two are not the same. And the Marquis book is MUCH more expensive, at over $200.

  15. I received my letter today. I have taught 2nd grade for six years. Not sure how I have a student in high school yet that would be able to nominate me. Sounds fishy! Plus it had my married name and I have only been married for 3 years.

  16. I’ve also been nominated by a “former student”, except I’ve been teaching first grade for only 3 years. On their website it says that a peer or community member can also nominate. Perhaps we can figure out which “peer” sold our info. Maybe a book order club…

  17. I recieved my nomination letter today. I would like to know why they sent this letter to my home address. My students only would have had my school address. I plan to call and ask some questions tomorrow. There is a Better Business Bureau symbol on their website- maybe the BBB needs to recieve a few phone calls from suspicious recipients.

  18. I received the same letter today. I’m so glad I looked here. I didn’t know whether or not to feel honored or what!

  19. I got my first letter today. It’s hard to imagine any of my former students being very successful as I teach mostly LD/ADHD kids.
    Has anyone ever seen recognition of this “honor” in their local paper? I don’t think I have over the last 30 years. At this point in my career, I don’t think I want to take the time to fill the thing out and I sure wouldn’t pay for the book. I did read they had a website.

  20. I also got a letter today. This is actually my first full year teaching, so I was automatically skeptical. They didn’t even have my first name, and my last name was spelled incorrectly. Strangely, this is the same name under which I subscribe to magazines for the school… My guess is that it’s a scam. I hate to think so, but my students would have at least known how to spell my last name.

  21. I got my letter yesterday and the first time I read through it I thought SCAM. Then I read it again and was flattered that someone would nominate me and when I looked it up on the Internet I noticed a ton of press releases and people who were recognized for it as if it were a great honor. I’m glad I found this site for I had filled out the info. and put it in the mailbox and later (Thank God I got to it before the mailman came) pulled it out. I don’t want to look like a fool after 7 years of teaching. I’ve never even heard of anyone from our district getting this recognition before and I didn’t ask. I’m glad I know now! It’s sad that our profession doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves.

  22. I too received my letter of nomination today. I thought of several possible students that could have nominated me but I’m not sure. I would hate to toss aside a legitamate honor when a student cared enough to think of me. I will send in the information requested but not the money.

  23. I received a letter yesterday. So did a friend of mine. In fact, her husband, a school bus driver, received a letter also. Hmmmm. Maybe they need to start a new volume “Who’s Who Among America’s School Bus Drivers.”
    And to think, I almost fell for it.

  24. I was at first flattered when I read this letter. Now I wonder if I can find out the name of the student who nominated me. At least then I would know if this is a real honor, or if I’m just on their mailing list.

  25. So Sorry to say that I too received a letter. I have only been a pre-school teacher for only 8 months. My school does not require a teaching certificate, therefore I am not actually a teacher. I know may teachers who have received this “honor” do deserve to be recognized, however this is not the organization to do it. This Scam-of-a-letter does NOT mean you are not deserving of such an honor, it only means that the students who do appreciate you haven’t found the way to go about it yet.

  26. I received my letter earlier this week. I find the nomination somewhat amusing. I have not worked at a school in over two years. I am currently attending school full-time working on a degree in elementary education. I received this recognition in high school, in college, and now in a profession that I have yet to achieve.

  27. Got my letter- I’d received these before, but for some reason this looked more legitimate. I now realize it’s a money making scam..but after 32 years of teaching..maybe I’ll ask the PTA to pay for it… What the heck..my FAMILY might fall for it and I can display it prominently at my retirement party!

  28. Thanks for dropping by and posting all of these comments, folks! This is clearly a “hot topic.” Sounds like being nominated to this Who’s Who has a few benefits, but very minimal ones. I still have my envelope and form from the company; don’t think I’m going to fill it out. Instead, I see the student’s name who nominated me in small print on the form, so I might just send her a kind thank you note instead.
    Cheers, — Mike Arnzen

  29. I also received a letter and though skeptical, felt somewhat honored. Some people wrote that they could see the name of the student who nominated them–where? If there’s no name on my letter, does that mean it’s a scam? I also received my letter at home, which was suspicious. Has anyone forwarded this page of skepticisms to the Who’s Who people?

  30. I got my letter on Monday. There was not a name of who nominated me. I do appreciate the thought. I teach elementary special ed.

  31. I received my letter a couple days ago. I think the bar codes reflect the true essence of these nominations. I felt like a grocery store product passing through the red light scanner. Beep! Next!

  32. Interesting comments. My letter came to my school address and did include the name of a student I’ve had. So perhaps the letters are different. My first thought was that it was a scam, but it did have the name of a student that was the right age. I too, think it is an honor to be remembered by a student after all the years that have passed. I would also add that just because one is a librarian or something does not mean you did not influence someone. I’ll be curious to see what happens.

  33. Received my letter today. I could not find the name of the student who supposedly honored me. Too bad! I think it is a nice idea, but like poetry. com, it appears to be just a money making scam.

  34. I too received a letter and couldn’t find the name of the student who supposedly nominated me! Is it a money-making scam? Has anyone ever had a press release in the past? I hope to hear from someone who has been recognized!!!

  35. My husband and I were both nominated in 2004 – student names were on our letters. We sent in our information but did not purchase the book. Our names were not listed in the publicity release that was in the local paper nor did our principals acknowledge our nominations. Hmmm. Could it be you have to buy the book before they set people know? We received second nomination letters year – we chose not to participate.

  36. Thanks for all your posts…I got the letter Tuesday, and thought it was a bad joke. Like this organization got a bunch of faculty handbooks and selected names at random…I’d love to think someone noticed I’m a great teacher, but don’t want to feel like a fool if this is really announced to the rest of the faculty where I work!

  37. I received my first nomination two years ago, and the name of the student was listed. I contacted him and thanked him, and he told me he wrote an essay about how I influenced him to go on to graduate school. (I teach community college.) He sent that to me, and it was sincerely touching. I went ahead and bought the book, mostly because my mother wanted to have it. This year, I got another nomination, but there’s no student name listed.

  38. All the various “Who’s Who” listings are a joke. They are nothing more than vanity publications catering to narcissists. Whenever I see someone boasting about his “Who’s Who” listing on a resume or curriculum vitae, I think “What a pathetic loser.” Check out this 1999 article from Forbes’ Magazine, titled “Hall of Lame”: http://www.forbes.com/fyi/1999/0308/063.html

  39. I just received my “nomination” and my bullshit radar has been screeming ever since. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done as an educator to attract the attention of “Who’s Who” since I’ve done so much as an author and performer, and no one seems to have noticed. I decided to do a google search and came up with this. I’m glad to see someone is thinking.

  40. I received a nomination letter last week. However, it didn’t disclose the name of the student who nominated me. I am going to write them to see if they will disclose the name.
    I don’t intend on purchasing anything from the site. It was nice to hear that I made enough of a difference in a former student’s life to merit a nomination. And for that, I was touched!

  41. I’m a high school student, and my friend recieved that letter a few weeks ago. She’s a strait A student, so I wouldn’t be surprised, but when another one of my friends and I, who are b and c students both mentioned getting the letter, I got a little suspicious, and that’s how I ended up here.

  42. I also received a letter. It didn’t take me
    long to begin to become skeptical. I did check
    out the Who’s Who website. It offers very
    little information. I’m glad I found this
    information about others who are also skeptical.
    It’s ashame that we have to always defend our
    professional titles from money-making rackets.

  43. I too received a letter. No name of the nominating student appeared. I am embarrased enough to say that I felt happy and flattered at first. I then checked out the whole thing. Unfortunately, In my case it is a hoax. Oh well, I was happy for a short time.

  44. I would like to know how to find out who nominated me. I too read the website and felt there was very little information in it.
    Does anyone know the “qualifications” to get in the book? I feel it is a scam too.
    If someone out there knows it isn’t a scam, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

  45. I just finished reading all the comments by recipients of the honor of being nominated for Who’s
    Who in American Teachers. If this truly is a worthwhile organization, then they should respond to the many comments that have been made.
    My daughter received this “honoring” last year and we felt proud but now after receiving a letter again, I feel that it is a sham! How SAD!
    These kinds of people need to get with the program, as my teacher daughter often proclaims.
    Let’s see if they are willing to back their

  46. Well, at least the kid(s) who nominate us get to think they have improved our lives. The recognition is appreciated – but the pricy books aren’t. In their letterhead they state that “recognition should not cost anything…” I agree.

  47. I was pleased to read that other teachers are skeptical, too, of the Who’s Who. I did not respond to my letter. My husband, who is a biologist working in a biotechnology company, received a nomination last year for the Business Who’s Who, although he does research and does not run the business side. I think that there is a Who’s Who out there for every field, and perhaps the gratification of seeing one’s name in print is worth $15 to some.

  48. I received a letter this spring and didn’t take the time to fill out the form. I was just as skeptical as the vast majority of you (my fellow teachers) initially. But then I recalled this young lady who nominated me — how she rose above adversity, and realized the potential that was hers all along. No, I don’t have to buy the book, but I will honor her because she remembered the very small part I played in her life. Incidentally, I frantically filled out the form and got it in before the deadline.

  49. I received a letter three years ago, two in fact. I was honored, however I reconsidered after I saw the hefty price of the book. Now, three years later I called the Who’s Whos of American Teachers that I might get some confirmation on the nomination that I could include in my r�sum�. They couldn’t find me even though I had the student’s name who nominated me. They were 100% sure I was not in the system. I guess it’s still about the money.

  50. I received a letter, but it did not list the name of the student who nominated me. I would love to know, just so that I can get back in touch with them.
    I think it is an honor to be nominated, you just have to be strong enough to refrain from purchasing these items they are selling.

  51. I was nominated but my nominations always include a student name. I havbenever purchased anything but like the look on ths students faces when they have been nominated.

  52. I have been nominated three times, and the letter I received always told the student who nominated me. The student was nominated by a teacher, then the student in turn nominated one teacher who made a difference in their life. That aspect leads me to believe it is an honor from the students perspective, but it is also a ploy for money from the organizations perspective. I have not purchased anything, and this was about five years ago. They may have changed the criteria.

  53. I too, received my letter of recognition from a former student! I experienced the best day of my life when I ran into a former student I taughtin Kindergarten and she ran up to me and gave me a hug! We cried and talked about her favorite times in my classroom! To me that is much more rewarding then this book. However, since they didnt tell me who nominated me, I have no idea how to thank that student or show my appreciation that they thought of me that highly for all my teaching years, I read the letter and instantly become overjoyed but then like all of you, was suspicious of the rewards you have to purchase! So, reading all of your comments I will just send in the sheet and not the money. Glad we have our resources before jumping on this band wagon! Kerryann :0)

  54. I too thought this was a hoax. But now that I know a special education student wrote an essay to have my name placed in the book I have a change of heart and will fill out the form in my student’s honor. Do you know how hard it is for a special education student to write a complete sentence let alone an essay?

  55. Because my blog software blocks comments after so many months and requires arduous management for adding new ones, I have closed discussion on this popular topic.
    Congratulations again to all nominees; regardless of your stance on this matter, there are a LOT of great teachers out there who clearly deserve awards, if not a medal.

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