Lights, Camera, Action: Watch the NEA Foundation Gala Live on February 12, 2016

Next Friday, more than 850 people will gather in Washington, D.C., to honor and celebrate 42 award-winning public school educators at the NEA Foundation’s annual Salute to Excellence in Education Gala

These 42 educators were selected by their peers to receive prestigious awards recognizing their innovative teaching, leadership, attention to diversity, and ability to engage parents and the community. 

On February 12, 2016, they will trade in their lesson plans and school bells

NEA Foundation Looks Back: Our Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

By Kate Schaefer
NEA Foundation Intern

We know we’re a few weeks into 2016 already, but we’re in a nostalgic mood (mostly for summer), and we wanted to share with you some of our favorite NEA Foundation blog posts from 2015. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

1. 5

Lessons Learned: What Students Should Understand About Culture and Global Competency

By Diana Wedl
Instructional Facilitator and 2015 Global Learning Fellow 
Carpenter Elementary School, Carpenter, WY

This blog series features the NEA Foundation's Global Learning Fellows, is a cohort of educators who participated in a year-long supported learning experience on the VIF International Global Gateway platform to build global competency skills. Diana

Lessons Learned: NEA Foundation Grant Gets Preschoolers Communicating

We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Katrina Moreno and Karen Young-Jones, preschool para-educators from Port Arthur, Texas, hope that their students can cash in on those words by becoming photographers. They told us a

Hey NEA Foundation Grantees, Show Us Your Innovative Work!

We know our NEA Foundation grantees do innovative and important work, and our hope is to share knowledge gained from your grant projects with other educators. 

Would you and your students like to be featured? Here’s how! Send us videos and

The NEA Foundation wants you to fill in the blank: “Education means…”

Every student deserves a great public education, but what exactly does that mean? The NEA Foundation wants to hear it in your words! 

Share your thoughts with us this week to celebrate American Education Week and International Education Week by

Huffington Post Blog: Improving Schools for Every Student

By Harriet Sanford
President and CEO
The NEAFoundation

“When one of the leaders of standards-based school reform and one of the products of one of the nation's most challenged school districts agree on something, I pay attention.

Paul Reville, who served as secretary of education in Massachusetts,

A Library for Every Learner: Meet Excellence in Education Award Winner Heather LaBarbara

This blog series features five educators who will be honored by The NEA Foundation with the prestigious 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000 and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators. They will be celebrated at

No Right or Wrong Answers: Meet Excellence in Education Award Winner Pam Wells

This blog series features five educators who will be honored by The NEA Foundation with the prestigious 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000 and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators. They will be celebrated at

An Education for All: Meet Excellence in Education Award Winner Mohsen Ghaffari

This blog series features five educators who will be honored by The NEA Foundation with the prestigious 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000 and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators. They will be celebrated at

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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 miss the live stream of the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 12, 2016? Now, you can watch the entire event above. 

7:30 PM

 

  • Opening remarks and performances by Furia Flamenca and classical guitarist Torcuato Zamora

 

8:20 PM

 

  • Student performance by English Language Learners who participated in a NEA Foundation-funded, high school theater program in Annandale, Virginia

 

  • 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence presented

 

8:55 PM

 

  • Performance by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City

 

  • 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence (continued)

 

  •  2016 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence

 

9:45 PM

 

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund accepts the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education

 

  • One educator wins the evening’s top honor: the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000!

 

 

These five educators — Dirk Andrews (WY), Debra McDonald (OH), Mohsen Ghaffari (UT), Heather LaBarbara (KY), and Pam

Wells (SD) — are all finalists for the evening’s top award.

 

Five of those educators will also receive the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and $10,000.

 

And stay tuned for the evening’s highly-anticipated finale, when one of the five educators above will be announced the winner of the top award and $25,000!

 

 

The NEA Foundation will also present the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund for its efforts to address a growing population of Hispanic American students.

 

 

Esai Morales, the award-winning actor who has appeared in the biopic “La Bamba,” the HBO series “The Brink,” and can currently be seen on CBS’ “Criminal Minds”,” will host the night’s celebration.

 

He’ll also help us cheer on student performers, including English Language Learners from a NEA Foundation-funded, high school theater program, and others.

 

Don’t miss any of these special moments! Tune in, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (ET).

 

Prepare to be entertained by host, Esai Morales, an

accomplished actor and co-founder of the National

Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

 

Watch the event!

Did you miss the live stream of the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 13, 2015? Now, you can watch the event in its entirety right here!

 

As one of the most prestigious awards events in public education, the NEA Foundation’s gala attracts more than 800 national education leaders and supporters to honor these educators each year in Washington, D.C. 

 

Did you attend the gala? View and purchase photos from the event.

 

Celebrating 39 educators from across the country

This year, 39 educators selected by their peers received the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence. In addition to these awards, the following top honors were presented.

 

Who won the evening’s top honor?

Terri Butts, a curriculum effectiveness specialist for the Richland 2 Child Development Center in Columbia, SC, and a member of the South Carolina Education Association, received the evening's top honor: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000. This award recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.

 

Butts and four other educators also received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence. These five educators were finalists for the evening's top award.

 

Watch Terri Butts' acceptance speech below. 

 

 

 

Photo (left to right): Gary Phoebus, President and CEO of NEA Member Benefits; Terri Butts; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation

 

 

 

Five educators receive top awards

These five extraordinary educators from across the country received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, and found themselves finalists for the evening’s top award. And their students have already benefitted. Each class received digital arts training from Scena Media to produce a video, which premiered at the gala, to honor their award-winning teachers.

 

Photo (left to right): John Stocks, NEA Executive Director; Crystal Brown; Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Awardee Allison Riddle (UT); Awardee Anna Baldwin (MT); Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of the Horace Mann Educators Corporation; Awardee Crystal Williams Gordon (LA); Awardee Terri Butts (SC); Awardee Richard Erickson (WI)

 

Watch all of the student-made videos below. 

 

Beloved children’s book author, the late Walter Dean Myers, and author and illustrator son, Christopher Myers honored

The NEA Foundation also presented award-winning children’s author, Walter Dean Myers, posthumously, and his son, award-winning illustrator and author, Christopher Myers, with the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, honoring their lifelong contributions to children’s literature. 

 

The father-son duo collaborated on stories for and about children of color who don’t see themselves reflected in children’s literature. According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, only 93 of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013 were about black people. In an op-ed for the New York Times in March 2014, Walter Dean Myers wrote, “What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”

 

Their collaborative works include “Jazz,” a winner of the Coretta Scott King award for illustration, “Harlem,” a Caldecott Honor book, “Blues Journey,” and “We are American: a tribute from the heart,” to name a few.

 

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.

In honor of Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Myers, and their wonderful family, First Book dedicated a gift of 5,000 brand new books to children in need across the country. First Book is a social enterprise that currently serves more than 155,000 programs and classrooms serving children in need ages 0-18 years of age. First Book hopes that everyone serving children in need will join their network and continue to grow the Myers' family legacy of high quality, diverse content for all children.

 

Watch Christopher Myers' acceptance speech.  

 

 Photo (left to right): Donna Meacham Blackman, Member of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Crystal Brown, Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Honoree Christopher Myers, award-winning illustrator and author; Lily Eskelsen García, NEA President; Stephen Eulie, Executive Vice President Consumer Banking of First National Bank of Omaha

 

 

Hosted by actress and activist Anne-Marie Johnson

Anne-Marie Johnson, who most recently appeared in the TNT series, "Murder in the First," and is best known for her role as Althea Tibbs on the hit television series, "In the Heat of the Night," and as a cast member of the sketch comedy series, "In Living Color," hosted the event.  

 

Johnson helped celebrate exceptional public school educators alongside more than 50 student performers— many of whom are past NEA Foundation gala stars, invited back for an encore.

 

Photo (left to right): Awardee Allison Riddle (UT); Awardee Anna Baldwin (MT); Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of the Horace Mann Educator Corporation; Anne-Marie Johnson, actress and activist; Awardee Crystal Williams Gordon (LA); Awardee Terri Butts (SC); Awardee Richard Erickson (WI)

 

Students take the stage for return performances

From Montgomery County, Maryland, the Sogo African Rhythm Ensemble of 35 drummers and dancers from Forest Knolls Elementary, who performed at last year’s gala, took the stage under the direction of educator, Lou Persic.

 

Also returning this year was Blessed Sheriff, a young poet, who performed two original poems with last year’s gala host, Tony Award-winning actress, Phylicia Rashad, of “The Cosby Show” fame. Sheriff performed her tribute to the Walter Dean Myers alongside Joseph Morag, a violinist and first chair and concertmaster of the New York Youth Symphony. A second tribute to Myers came from young writers from Lee County, Florida, who performed an interpretation of Walter Dean Myers’ acclaimed book, “The Story of the Three Kingdoms.”

 

Memorable performances also include Brooklyn-based singer and Princeton musicology doctoral student, Cory Hunter, who is lead soloist of the Boys Choir of Harlem, as well as the Counterpoints, directed by Michael Raunik, from Indianapolis, Indiana, who have been ranked the nation’s top concert show choir.

 

Watch Blessed Sheriff and Joseph Morag's performance below.

 





Photo (left to right): Cory Hunter, student performer; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Blessed Sheriff, student performer

 


A special thank you to all who helped us celebrate the best in public education! Save the date for next year’s gala on Feb. 12, 2016.