Sallie Mae is a corporation that provides funding and servicing support for education loans. Sallie Mae annually sponsors the First Class Teacher Award to honor the nation's most outstanding elementary and secondary educators during their first year of teaching. This program is implemented in cooperation with the American Association of School Administrators, the professional organization representing 15,000 education leaders nationwide.
The winners were nominated by their school superintendents and chosen by a panel of education experts based on their superior instructional skills and interaction with students, faculty and parents. One teacher from each state and the District of Columbia was chosen, and all 51 honorees came to Washington, DC in September 1996 to share their experiences as part of the awards activities.