Combining Fun with Fundamentals: Innovative Education Programs in the 21st Century

We recently talked to Joe Pizzo, an English educator at Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey. His NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership grant helped him develop a project that’s still engaging students years later, so we wanted to learn more about his ideas! Here’s what he told us. We’ve included some of his students’ projects for you to see as well.

Tell us about your NEA Foundation grant project.

After my students read Lois Lowry’s The Giver, we

Winners of The NEA Foundation's CarrotTop and LimeHead #NEARA16 Photo Contest

We know you’ve been waiting to find out who won our #NEAFCarrotTop and #NEAFLimeHead social media photo contest, held during the NEA Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., from July 2-6, 2016. Well, the winners are in! 

We asked

4 Hot Education Grants to Apply for This Summer

By Jesse Graytock
The NEA Foundation Grants Manager

In May, we tipped you off to 11 awesome education grants to apply for this summer. As the temperatures ramp up, we thought we’d do the same with 4 more hot education grants for you to check out as you try to keep cool. Have a look and start

5 Elementary Global Competency Lesson Plans for Next Fall

This post is part of a series featuring lesson plans developed by NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows and grantees.

Don’t panic.

You still have a couple of months until the beginning of the new school year. Which means it’s the perfect

11 Awesome Education Grants to Apply for This Summer

As final exams wrap up and students and educators part ways for the summer, it’s natural for educators to want to take a breath and unwind from a hectic school year. However, it’s also an excellent time to think ahead and look for

Huffington Post: A Fresh Start, With Students at the Center

By Harriet Sanford
President and CEO
The NEA Foundation

The Every Student Succeeds Act is an opportunity to look at what works when it comes to improving teaching and learning.

Now that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is no longer the law of the land, education policymakers at all levels are talking about the

Lessons Learned: This Earth Day: Where Has the Water Gone?

By Richard Erickson
2015 Global Learning Fellow and chemistry/physics/alternative education teacher
Bayfield High School in Bayfield, Wisconsin

This blog features the global-themed lesson plan initiatives of Richard Erickson, a 2015 alumnus of the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows program. Richard and his cohort participated in a year-long supported learning experience on the VIF

Lessons Learned: Union and District Teams Overhaul Evaluations Tool—Together

This blog series spotlights current teams of the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching & Learning. The Institute supports the collaborative efforts of these teams of local unions and school district leaders by focusing on a single

Packing for Peru: The NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows

By Kristen Shannon
Innovation Assistant

Kristen Shannon serves as Innovation Assistant at the NEA Foundation, where she helps prepare our Global Learning Fellows for their year-long professional development experience and supports STEM-related projects. Kristen has studied in South Africa

Lessons Learned: Multiplying First Graders’ Love of Math with NEA Foundation Grants

First grade teacher Diane Ward applies her NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grant to rethink math class. Ward and her grant co-applicant, Laurel Donley, who both teach at Clearmount Elementary School in North Canton, Ohio, set up stations with

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Educators from across the country traded their classrooms for a night on stage, where they were honored by more than 850 national education leaders and supporters in Washington, D.C.

 

Did you attend? Now, you can purchase photos from the evening.

 

 

Celebrating 42 educators from across the country

It is our pleasure to distinguish these extraordinary educators with the 2016 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence. These prestigious awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. All deserve our recognition and sincere thanks, but we had to choose one for our highest honor.

 

And the award goes to...

Photo: Esai Morales, award-winning actor and gala host; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Debra McDonald; Gary Phoebus, President and CEO of NEA Member Benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening’s finale, Debra McDonald, an early childhood education instructor at Wayne County Schools Career Center in Smithville, Ohio, took home the top honor: the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000! 

 

Watch Debra McDonald’s acceptance speech below.

 

 

Five educators receive top awards

Photo: Dirk Andrews, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (WY); Pam Wells, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (SD); Debra McDonald, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (OH); Crystal Brown, The NEA Foundation Board Chair; Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President; Heather LaBarbara, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (KY); Mohsen Ghaffari, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (UT)

 

 

 

 

Of the 42 educators honored that night, five also accepted the 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and $10,000, as finalists for the evening’s top honor. Their students could not be more proud of them!

 

Watch all five videos, which premiered during the gala, that students created using iPads to honor their award-winning educators.

 

Harriet Sanford shares story of hearing from former student—40 years later

Watch Harriet Sanford, the NEA Foundation's President and CEO, share a heartfelt story about a blast from her past — a text message she received from a student she taught 40 years ago — below.

 

 

Hispanic Scholarship Fund honored

Photo: Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Esai Morales, award-winning actor and gala host; Crystal Brown, NEA Foundation Board Chair; Fidel A. Vargas, President and CEO of  the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; Stephen Eulie, Executive Vice President of Consumer Banking, First National Bank of Omaha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NEA Foundation also presented the Hispanic Scholarship Fund with the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, paying tribute to their distribution of more than $470 million dollars in scholarships Latino college-bound students since 1975.

 

This award recognizes individuals and organizations for their lifelong commitment to advancing public education and is typically presented to those who work outside the field. Awardees have included former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Workshop.

 

Watch Fidel A. Vargas, President and CEO, accept the award of the behalf of Hispanic Scholarship Fund below.

 

 

With host, actor and activist Esai Morales

Photo: Esai Morales, award-winning actor and self-described "actorvist," reads tweets from the audience live on stage: "@MarkMautone: @Esai_Morales you rocked it! Thank you for supporting educators."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, Esai Morales, an accomplished actor who appeared in the biopic “La Bamba,” the HBO Series, “The Brink,” and the television series “NYPD Blue” and “Criminal Minds,” served as charismatic emcee and host. Morales cofounded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, following in the activist footsteps of his mother, who was an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

 

That night, he led guests and those watching the live stream from home or at viewing parties in cheering on the night’s biggest stars.

 

Special guests take the stage

Photo: Students from the Young People's Chorus of New York City, which now has 1,400 students from New York, ages 7 to 18, participate annually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With students at the center of public education, a group of English Language Learner students, who participated in a NEA Foundation-funded, high school theater program in Annandale, Virginia, also took center stage to perform Shakespeare. The Young People's Chorus of New York City wowed audiences with renditions from "The Sound of Music," and audiences also enjoyed the music and dance of Furia Flamenca and Torcuato Zamora, an accomplished flamenco guitarist from Spain.

 

Watch the Young People's Chorus of New York City perform the evening's finale below.

 

 

A special thank you to all who helped us celebrate the best in public education! Save the date for next year’s gala on February 10, 2017.