President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP): A Celebration of Student Achievement And Hard Work in the Classroom!

President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Students received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters signed by the President and the Secretary.

The Department is encouraging every school across the country to be on the lookout for 2017-18 school year materials from its program partners: the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The materials outline how to order certificates to awards before the end of the school year. Certificates are FREE, and there is no limit.

Please review the list at see if your school currently participates. If not, contact your local school/principal and urge them to participate for the upcoming school year.

Background –

PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided principals with the opportunity to recognize students who meet high standards of academic excellence, as well as those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles in their learning. Eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their principal under two categories.


  • The President’s Award for Educational Excellence – This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet a few academic requirements, including a high grade point average or other school-set criteria and a choice of either state test performance or teacher recommendations.
  • The President’s Award for Educational Achievement – This award recognizes students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their subjects but do not meet the academic criteria above. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of special obstacles, based on criteria developed at each school.

Recent School Celebrations –

Germantown Elementary School in Maryland serves a diverse student population of about 300 from pre-K through fifth- grade. I had the honor of joining them to congratulate 32 amazing students who were being presented with PEAP certificates during the school’s fifth-grade promotion ceremony.

Germantown Elementary students who earned their PEAP certificates.

Surrounded by excited students and families, I joined Principal Amy Bryant and others school and district leaders to laud the students’ academic success and implore them to continue setting a positive example. As a former student who had returned to offer words of inspiration emphasized, “More homework will come [in middle school] — and along with that is more responsibility.”

Benjamin Stoddert Elementary School in northwest Washington, DC, serves students from the surrounding neighborhoods, a number of out-of-boundary students from throughout the District and Bolling Air Force Base as well as students from over 20 countries, including the embassies of China, France and Russia. During my visit, I had the chance to celebrate with six soon-to-be-middle school students as they were presented with PEAP certificates.

Benjamin Stoddert Elementary School students holding their PEAP certificates.

Along with Principal Donald Bryant and others dignitaries, I encouraged these students to be the light in all situations, help others and let their greatness rub off.

The program also receives great feedback throughout the year. “Please know that the President’s Awards were given a great deal of emphasis at our graduation ceremony, as they are considered highly prestigious,” Prinicpal JoAnn Scott of South Bay Elementary School in West Babylon, New York, noted in a recent message. “Both Mr. Trump’s and Mrs. DeVos’ letters were read aloud at the ceremony, and copies of both letters were given to all of the award recipients, along with their certificates and [purchased] pins.” Notably, South Bay is also a 2007 National Blue Ribbon School, another of the Department’s Recognition Programs.

Principal JoAnn Scott and a PEAP recipient at South Bay Elementary School


Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.

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