At my school, those nominated for Teacher of the Year are asked to enter the AWARE Foundation's Teacher of the Year competition.
Write it on your communicator: AWARE.
"The AWARE Foundation was established in 1989 by a group of private citizens for the purpose of recognizing and rewarding excellence among Arlington Independent School District classroom teachers. The name AWARE stands for 'Arlington Will Award and Recognize (Educational) Excellence.'"
There's a bit of paperwork involved, but nothing unreasonable or difficult. For some, here's the scary part: folks from the foundation make 3-6 observations. Because I'm competitive, I don't mind the hurdles--paperwork, observations, or interviews--I wanted in the game.
Observers for the AWARE Foundation take time to visit classrooms, make observations, ask questions, discuss with other observers, and agree on excellent teaching. On top of the that, private and corporate donations allow for prizes. Community members and businesses are giving away their time and money to honor and award teachers. That's cool. And, as I've heard from my observers, they know that teachers are doing wonderful things in the classroom, and they want to bear witness to them. Great encouragement.
Not to sound cliche... Whether I win or not, I'm happy with the experience. All of my observers have left notes, and they are filled with encouragements and compliments. As a teacher, kind words is all it takes to make my day.