ST. GEORGE — Nominations are now open for the 16th annual Best Teacher on the Planet contest. Organized by variety radio station Planet 105.1, the contest honors local educators with prizes and words of praise from their nominators.
LaRae Nelson, morning show host for Planet 105.1, said the inspiration for the contest came from her personal admiration for educators and the good they do for their communities. She said she came up with the idea when she was doing the morning show with her husband.
“My mom was a teacher, and both of his parents were teachers,” Nelson said. “It’s a great way to honor our teachers, because we know they don’t make enough money.”
From now until the end of the school year, anyone can nominate an exceptional teacher they know in Southern Utah. A different teacher will be selected each week from now until May, and winners will be announced on air each Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. beginning Oct. 6.
“It doesn’t have to be a teacher you currently have,” Nelson said. “It could be a teacher that affected your life 10 years ago. It could be teachers nominating other teachers. It can be husbands nominating their wives or wives nominating their husbands. If you know an amazing teacher, we want you to tell us about them so we can go out and recognize them.”
Weekly winners are given their prizes in a surprise visit to the classrooms by Nelson and her co-host, Lukas Cox. The radio hosts present honorees with a certificate and T-shirt recognizing them as the “Best Teacher on the Planet” along with gift cards for free food or services from the contest’s sponsors, including Findlay KIA, Buffalo Wild Wings, BlvdHome and Chick-fil-A.
Cox said he’s traveled all over Southern Utah – from St. George to Enterprise, Cedar City and more – to celebrate teachers in classroom celebrations that he said have been surprisingly heartfelt.
“When we take a picture with them and the whole class is excited that their teacher won – that’s where the tears come from,” Cox said. “They put so much into their lessons and all the things they do. More than the prizes or anything else, we want to make teachers feel appreciated.”
In addition to the prizes they win during their week of recognition, each winner will be qualified to attend a party at the end of the school year sponsored by the radio station. Each attendee will qualify to win another prize at the catered event, including a grand prize of $500 cash for the lucky teacher and $500 for their school.
In years past, other prizes have included a year’s supply of smoothies, a new TV and tickets to Tuacahn Center of the Arts.
To submit a teacher for recognition, visit the Planet 105.1 website and complete the nomination form. Nominations stay in the system for the entire school year, so individuals need only submit one form for each teacher they want to recognize.
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