Adviser Corner: Award Season

Each AOE section has a clear set of rubrics that will be used to score your group’s application. Support materials to assist groups in submitting a successful AOE application can be found on the MASC/MAHS website under the Resources tab (Advisor Resources – Database of Adviser Resources | Outside Resources). A separate set of resources can be found for most of the AOE sections. 

Below you will find information on each of the ten AOE sections. Helpful materials found in Adviser Resources on the MASC/MAHS website will be identified with a DAR | OR notation.

The Award of Excellence application should be submitted in a three-ring binder with tab markers separating each section. The signature page should be placed in front of the Section I tab. The AOE scoring rubric for each section should be the first item behind the tab for the section in your application.

Section 1 – Organization & Structure

The constitution and bylaws of an organization are the basis for its organization, procedures and operation. These documents should be reviewed yearly and revised as needed. Overviews of constitution and bylaw structure, examples and a helpful questionnaire are included in the DAR | OR Constitution and Bylaws section. The AOE Section 1 scoring rubric indicates the specific items the review committee members will be looking for in your constitution and bylaws.

The rubric items should be reviewed and compared to the current constitution of the group. Revisions should be made were needed. A copy of the group’s constitution should be submitted with the date of last review and last revision clearly indicated.

Listing of the officers of the group, membership in Standing Committees and membership in Special/Ad Hoc Committees to date for the year should be included and clearly identified.

Section 2 - Focus Areas /Vision for the Year

This section provides the opportunity to your groups to share its game plan for year. Helpful information and forms can be found in the DAR | OR Starting Point : Program Vision and Vision for the Year sections. The AOE Section 2 scoring rubric indicates the specific items the review committee members will be looking for in your description of the group’s game plan for the year. Three or four focus areas should be shared. Make sure each of the focus areas has multiple activities connected to it with the dates of the activities and persons / groups involved in each activity clearly listed.

A calendar for the year showing the when the activities for each focus area has taken place or is planned should be included in this section. An example of a calendar format is included in the DAR | OR Starting Point : Program Vision and Vision for the Year sections.

Section 3 – Goal Setting

SMART Goal training has been a foundational piece of MASC/MAHS leadership training activities for many years and a requirement of the Award of Excellence since its inception in the 1990’s. Once learned, the ability to write SMART goals brings focus to a group’s efforts and makes meaningful evaluation possible. In this section, you are asked to share two of the group’s goals using the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely). Helpful information and forms can be found in the DAR | OR Goal Oriented Program and S.M.A.R.T.Goals sections.

Section 4 – Project Planning Process

Establishing and using a consistent planning process is characteristic of outstanding student organizations. There are several project planning models available. Some of these are shared in the DAR | OR Project Planning section. Other models have been shared at MASC/MAHS training workshops and conferences. There is no single correct planning process. The group may use the model of their choice. Forms used by the group and specific information found in the Section 4 rubric for one successful held prior to the AOE application submission should be include in this section.

Section 5 – Evaluation

Making meaningful evaluations is a skill shared by successful organizations. Not all activities will go as planned and using sound evaluation practices makes such activities learning opportunities instead of failures. In this section information on two types of evaluation should be filed. First, an evaluation of an activity held this school year. The connection between the SMART Goal developed for the activity and its evaluation is highlighted with specific items to be included listed in the Section 5 rubric. Secondly, a mid-year evaluation of group activity should also be submitted. Again, specific items the review committee will be looking for in this section are listed in the rubric. Helpful information on the evaluation process can be found in the DAR | OR Evaluation section.

Section 6 – Record Keeping

An outstanding student council or honor society keeps good records of its activities. Maintaining good meeting records – agendas, minutes, treasurer reports and committee reports comprise the official record of the group’s actions. Such records should be readily available to give a recounting of year’s highlights and provide meaning information that can be use to develop plans for future groups. Information on items such as agendas, minute, reports and budgets can be found in the DAR | OR New Advisor Handbook, Agenda and Presiding Officers, Making meetings Work and Minutes & Budgets sections.

Section 7 – Service Project

Service to the school and community one of the primary reasons student councils and honor societies exist. This section asks the group to provide information and share a visual record of one service project they conducted to date this school year. The Section 7 rubric lists the specific information requested. Please note the Length of Submission requirement. The section should be comprised of no more than two text pages and should include one page of photos. Rubric points should be presented in a format that allows the reader to easily identify rubric points

Section 8 – Communication

Often the three biggest faced by a school are communication, communication and communication. Section 8 asks you to share summaries of the processes used to communicate within the group, with the student body and with the administration. Four specific examples of communication processes used by the group are to be shared in the second part of this section.

Section 9 – Group Development & Leadership Training

Continual improvement is a characteristic of excellence. Group working on becoming excellent or maintaining excellence have a focus on group development and leadership training for its members. In Section 9, you should include two specific activities that focused on team building within the group and/or group development. The Group Process and Dynamics link in the DAR | OR provides some useful information. You should also clearly identify and describe two examples of activities or resources used so far this year that focused on leadership training for Group Officers, two fro Group Members and two for Advisers. These may include, but are not limited to, MASC/MAHS programs, group workshops, lessons at meetings, activities or print resources.

Section 10 – Letter of Recommendation & Documentation of Activities

Two letters of recommendation should be included in Section 10. The first must be from your school’s principal. The second must be from an adult who is not the group’s advisor, but has firsthand knowledge of the group’s activities and impact on the school. The second part of Section 10 is a visual history of the group and its activities this year. Up to six pages of photos from multiple activities should be included. The activities depicted should be identified. The photo presentation should not just be six large photos. The pages should show some thought in layout and design. Start taking and collecting pictures of the group’s activity now. You can’t go back in time and take them later!

Helpful Hints

Start now! Even though your Award of Excellence Application is not due until February there are parts of the AOE application that can be worked on and completed throughout the year.

Use the Award of Excellence application process as a learning experience for your group’s leaders and members.

Assign personal responsibility for completion of AOE components and the AOE application. When everyone is supposed to do everything with no one responsible for completing a task, it rarely gets done on time. Some groups have found giving the AOE application completion responsibility to the vice-president helpful, as it gives an important ongoing task to an officer who frequently does not have a great deal of specific responsibility.

Make sure the AOE is a student -led activity. The one doing the work is the one learning.

Make sure the AOE is submitted in a three-ring binder with tabs for each section.

Make sure the signature page is complete and at the front of the AOE application.

Appearance matters. Spend some time making your Award of Excellence application look excellent.

Rubric items of each section should be easy to find and neatly presented. Photos of the group members and their activities can add to any section of the AOE application

The AOE rubrics clearly state what will be looked for in of the AOE application. Make sure it is all there.

Before submitting the AOE application, have a group of students do a self-scoring using the AOE rubrics.

After the student review, have the group’s advisor score the application using the AOE rubrics.

After submitting the AOE application, check the MASC/MAHS website to make sure it has been received.

Please contact the MASC/MAHS office if you have any questions regarding the Award of Excellence application process, rubrics or adviser resources.