Pennsylvania Educator, Leslie Nicholas, receives top honor at the 2013 Awards Gala

(L to R: Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of The NEA Foundation; Leslie Nicholas, language arts educator at Wyoming Valley West Middle School in Kingston, PA; Gary Phoebus, President & CEO of NEA Member Benefits)


More than 800 national leaders in education, philanthropy, and business, gathered at the National Building Museum in the nation’s capital on February 8, 2013 to celebrate the best in public education. Through dance, music, and readings, student performers from Lee County, FL— an NEA Foundation funded site— brought to life the essays, poems, and short stories written by their peers and inspired by their teachers.


In addition to the 38 educators honored with the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, the following top honors were presented.


Leslie Nicholas accepted the evening's top honor: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000.


Kevin Eubanks, former music director of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” son of a music teacher, and proponent of music in the classroom, hosted the evening's event. Eubanks shared the stage with Lee County students to perform the evening’s finale.


Five educators received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and $10,000, making each of them finalists for the evening's top award.


(L to R: Mark Chichester, Board Chair of The NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of The NEA Foundation; Julia Marshall, Teacher Interventionist and Literacy Coach at Rosewood Elementary International School (Rock Hill, SC); Melissa Collins, Second Grade Teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School (Memphis, TN); Jennifer Thomas, Instructional Coach and English Language Arts Teacher (San Jose, CA); Leslie Nicholas, Language Arts Teacher at Wyoming Valley West Middle School (Kingston, PA); Kellie Blair Hardt, Special Education Teacher at Metz Middle School (Manassas, VA); Peter Heckman, President & CEO of the Horace Mann Educators Corporation)


Leslie Nicholas accepts with the evening's top honor: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence.


Kyle Zimmer, President of First Book, accepts the Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education on behalf of First Book.


Daniel Leeds, cofounder and board chair of Alliance for Excellent Education, accepts The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education.


Kevin Eubanks shares the stage with Lee County, FL students to perform the evening’s finale- a tribute to their late teacher, Mr. Skip Perry.


Lee County student performers brought to life the essays, poems, and short stories written by their peers and inspired by their teachers.


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