National Initiatives / Cybersecurity Education / Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award

Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award

The PCEA is presented by the U.S. Secretary of Education to teachers in the field of cybersecurity to honor their contributions to the education of our nation’s students. The award is bestowed annually to two teachers — one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level — who “demonstrate superior achievement in instilling skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects.” These recipients embody the dedication and expertise of educators who are critical to increasing the cybersecurity awareness of all students, inspiring the nation’s future cybersecurity workforce, and contributing to a more secure society. The award acknowledges both the exemplary achievements demonstrated by the teachers and that of the teacher’s students. The Rules, Terms, and Conditions for the 2023 PCEA are included below. The nomination period closes on September 29, 2023 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. 

The 2023 PCEA will be the fourth iteration of the award. The two winners of the inaugural 2020 award were announced in May 2020 and the subsequent two pairs winners were announced in December 2021 and October 2022, respectively. The prior four winners are listed below:

  • 2020 winners:
    • Kara Four Bear of New Town Middle School in New Town, North Dakota
    • Donna Woods of Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California
  • 2021 winners:
    • Sergio de Alba of Miano Elementary School in Los Banos, California
    • Kristina L. Rice of Spotsylvania High School in Spotsylvania, Virginia
  • 2022 winners:
    • Benjamin Dougherty of Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio 
    • Robert “Allen” Stubblefield, Jr. of Troy High School in Fullerton, California
  • 2023 winners:
    • Elizabeth Cerrone of The Innovation Center in St. Vrain Valley, Colorado
    • Jahi Garner of Palm Middle School in Moreno, California

Rules, Terms, and Conditions

What is the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award?

The Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award is bestowed by the United States Secretary of Education (Secretary) on teachers in the field of cybersecurity to honor their contribution to the education of our nation’s students. The award, established by Executive Order 13870 on May 2, 2019, is led by the U.S. Department of Education (Department), in consultation with the National Security Council and the National Science Foundation.

The award is presented annually to two teachers—one at the elementary or middle level (kindergarten through eighth grade) and one at the secondary level—who demonstrate superior achievement in instilling skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects. The award also recognizes teachers who demonstrate superior accomplishment in promoting student academic achievement.

Teachers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and Tribal Nations schools are eligible to apply or be nominated.

Award recipients embody the expertise and dedication of teachers who are critical to increasing the cybersecurity awareness of all students, inspiring the nation’s future cybersecurity workforce, and contributing to a more secure society.

Why Apply?

The Administration and Secretary are committed to enhancing the cybersecurity workforce and recognizing the cybersecurity teachers who serve a critical role in the development of America’s future cybersecurity professionals. The United States Government also recognizes the challenges and successes teachers face daily in the highly technical field of cybersecurity education. Therefore, this award highlights the accomplishments of two teachers by providing recognition, such as:

  • A certificate signed by the Secretary;
  • Public recognition as a leader in the field of cybersecurity education; and
  • Attendance at events, as appropriate, which may include professional development opportunities, discussions with policymakers on how to improve cybersecurity education, and opportunities to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.


Nominees must:

  • Be a “teacher” as defined in this announcement;
  • Instill in their students skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects, increase students’ awareness of cybersecurity issues, and encourage their students to explore further education and careers in cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects as part of their teaching responsibilities at a public or private “elementary school” or “secondary school,” as defined in this announcement;
  • Be a full-time employee of the elementary school or secondary school, or school district, as determined by state and school district policies;
  • Teach in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the DoDEA, or Tribal Nations schools;
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; and
  • Have not received this award before.


The following definitions are provided for the purpose of this award. Some of the definitions originate from legislation, while others were developed in collaboration with the Federal agencies referenced in the Executive Order establishing this award.

  • Elementary school: The term “elementary school” means a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a public elementary charter school or tribal school, that includes any grades from kindergarten up to, and including, grade 8, as determined under State law.
  • Secondary school: The term “secondary school” means a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a public secondary charter school or Tribal school, that provides secondary education, as determined under State law, except that the term does not include any education beyond grade 12.
  • Cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects: The term “cybersecurity” means measures that focus on protecting computers, networks, and information from unauthorized access or attacks. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: computer science, coding, cyber-operations, cyber-science, cyber-society, cryptography, data loss prevention and encryption, forensics, malware detection, system administration, software development and protection, web exploitation, computer networks and security, information sciences and technology, information security, reverse engineering, password protection, social or systems engineering, defensive hacking, and security intelligence. Please note, the teaching of content such as “cyber-bullying,” “cyber-hygiene,” and “cyber-awareness” do not fall under this definition.
  • Teacher: The term “teacher” means an individual who is employed in a public or private elementary school or secondary school, and who is responsible for educating students on cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects.
  • Superior educator accomplishment: The term “superior educator accomplishment” means a teacher’s evidence of conducting teaching and learning about cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects at an increasing level of complexity over the last five years with demonstrated exceptional outcomes. Examples of such accomplishment include, but are not limited to, demonstrated evidence that the teacher has, over the last five years: (1) taught the knowledge, skills, abilities, and tasks of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Framework; (2) increased cybersecurity career awareness; (3) infused cybersecurity across curricular disciplines; (4) integrated innovative cybersecurity educational approaches; (5) developed work-based learning and training through an employer partnership or consortia; (6) designed academic and/or career pathways aligned to the NICE Framework and the multi-part definition of career pathways from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; (7) started a successful cyber program, club, competition team, or mentoring program; (8) attended professional development workshops; (9) led a cyber camp; (10) earned an industry-valued credential or certification in a cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subject; and (11) scaled or repeated a cybersecurity intervention (e.g., lesson, partnership, etc.) across a school district, state, or the country.
  • Academic achievement: The term “academic achievement,” with respect to a teacher’s students, means the increased knowledge, skills, and abilities of the students in cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects. Examples include, but are not limited to: (1) high grades; (2) a concentration in a Career Technical Education (CTE) cybersecurity program of study; (3) passage of performance-based cybersecurity assessments; (4) participation in a cybersecurity work-based learning opportunity via an internship, apprenticeship, or other employment; (5) an industry-valued credential (including trade or degree) in cybersecurity; (6) military placement; or (7) involvement and significant placement in student cybersecurity competitions, such as

The Award Process: Overview

Nomination Process

The information provided by either nominators or teachers themselves (self-nominations) is completely voluntary. Anyone, including principals or other administrators; teachers; parents; students; state and local educational agency staff; federal, state, and local elected officials; and the public may nominate exceptional individuals who teach, promote, or inform students about cybersecurity or cybersecurity-related subjects in a public or private elementary or secondary school.

To submit a nomination, the following information is required:

  • Teacher’s name
  • Level of education taught (elementary or secondary)

Work information required:

  • Teacher’s state
  • Teacher’s city
  • Teacher’s work name (school, school district, or facility)
  • Teacher’s work email address
  • Teacher’s work contact number
  • Nominator’s work email address and phone number (for nominations that come from someone besides the teacher (e.g., principal nominating a teacher))
  • One narrative not exceeding 500 words that describes, with respect to the nominated teacher, superior teacher accomplishment (as defined in this announcement). A second narrative not exceeding 500 words that describes academic achievement (as defined in this announcement) by the teacher’s students. Narrative submissions may include a weblink or a video that showcases accomplishments, but a weblink or video is not required. The narrative responses should describe how the teacher has: (1) built strong foundations for cybersecurity literacy; (2) increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in cybersecurity; and (3) prepared the cybersecurity workforce for the future, as included in the 2018 Federal STEM Education five-year strategic plan, Charting A Course for Success: America’s Strategy For STEM Education.
  • One letter of reference from a principal, school district superintendent, or general reference (e.g., a parent, local industry leader, community leader, etc. with whom the teacher has worked) with a work contact email and phone number. Should the nominee be a top candidate, the Department reviewers will contact the reference to verify the following with respect to the nominated teacher: (1) superior educator accomplishment; (2) academic achievement by the teacher’s students; and (3) that the teacher is in good standing (e.g., not on probation; has received positive yearly reviews; etc.).

Nominations may be submitted by the same individual or entity for more than one teacher as separate nominations.

Nominations should be submitted to Once a nomination is submitted, an automated email response will be generated from the Department to confirm receipt to the person who submitted the nomination. Therefore, teachers who are nominated by someone else will not be notified unless they are chosen to receive the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.

The nomination period opened on June 15, 2023 and closes on September 29, 2023 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Instructions to Nominators

Eligibility will be confirmed by Department reviewers. Incomplete nominations will be considered ineligible. Nominators should provide evidence in the narrative format described in the Nomination Process section of this announcement. Documents will be accepted in Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) or Adobe Portable Document file (.pdf) formats. Please include the teacher’s name, teacher’s contact information, and page numbers on each page of the nomination. If the nomination is being prepared by someone other than the nominee, the nominator is encouraged to work with the nominee to complete the nomination to ensure that the information is reported accurately.

The award is focused on those who demonstrate their abilities teaching students in a variety of methods and environments (classroom, co-curricular, after-school programs, work-based learning, etc.), not only on those who are cybersecurity practitioners. The Executive Order directs the Department to focus on demonstrated teaching accomplishments, and not consider the teacher’s “research, scholarship, or technology development.” Therefore, there is no requirement that information about a teacher’s “research, scholarship, or technology development” be included in the nomination, and such information will not be considered during review and selection.

Review Criteria

Each nomination will be evaluated based on the entirety of the document submitted. The following criteria will be used during the review of nominations:

  • The extent to which the teacher demonstrates evidence of superior accomplishment related to teaching about cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects;
  • The extent to which the teacher substantiates teaching effectiveness using external indicators of academic achievement as defined in this announcement; and
  • The extent to which the teacher’s leadership contributes to educational excellence at the school, district, state, and/or national level.


All nominations will be subjected to the following review process:

  • Once the nomination period has ended, the Department will review the nominations for eligibility and assign all eligible nominations for review by Department staff (reviewers) with expertise in cybersecurity, technical education, or cybersecurity-related education.
  • Copies of each eligible nomination will be provided to reviewers for the selection of awardees. Staff will maintain strict confidentiality when reviewing nominations and notify the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award Manager should any conflicts of interest arise.
  • The reviewers will then each provide their recommendation for one elementary and one secondary teacher awardee to the Secretary. The Department will review and vet the awardees. The Department will notify the awardees of their selection using the contact information provided in the nomination.

Questions or Technical Assistance

Please contact


The Secretary of Education is responsible for administering the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, which is authorized under Executive Order 13870.

Privacy Act Statement: The Department’s authority to ask for this information is Executive Order 13870 issued on May 2, 2019. The information provided is voluntary. The main purpose for the information is to make awards. Should nominations not provide the information requested, nominations may be deemed ineligible. The routine use disclosures which may be made of the information will be published in a Systems of Records Notice (SORN) in the Federal Register. The Department will be able to disclose information from this SORN for certain enumerated purposes to specific users without the nominees’ or awardees’ prior written consent pursuant to such routine use disclosures. The routine use disclosures are expected to include disclosures to references listed in applications and nominations in order to permit the Department to determine that applicants and nominees meet the criteria for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, to the general public to announce the awardees, to the media to announce the awardees and to respond to inquiries about them, to government officials to notify them of the awardees in their States or districts, to assist with preparing congratulatory letters, certificates, or other honors, or to schedule events and office visits, to state and local education official to inform them of awardees in their states, districts, or schools, to White House or other Federal agencies for speechwriting and briefings of officials who will be addressing the awardees at events or to obtain needed security clearances at such events, to individuals and entities, such as vendors, in preparation for the awards ceremony or related educational and celebratory activities, to the Department’s contractors as needed to carry out any function of the Department, to members of Congress in response to an inquiry made at the nominee’s or awardee’s written request, to the Department of Justice to obtain advice, to the Department of Justice, parties, counsel, representatives, witnesses, courts, or other adjudicative authorities as relevant and necessary to administrative or judicial litigation, to appropriate parties and entities to respond to a breach of data, to researchers to carry out research on the purposes and functions of the system of records, to law enforcement officials if information in the system of records on its face or in connection with other information indicates that there has been a violation of statute, regulation, or order, and to the Department of Justice or the Office of Management and Budget if the Department concludes that disclosure is desirable or necessary in determining whether particular records are required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act or the Privacy Act.