Huffington Post Blog: Unleashing the Fierce Power of Your Belief

By Harriet Sanford
President & CEO
The NEA Foundation

This month, the new class of teachers who will enter the education workforce in America's schools will graduate from colleges and universities across the nation. As more teachers retire, our workforce is skewing younger. Recent college graduates comprise the largest percentage of newly hired teachers nationwide, leading to fresh ideas on bridging the achievement gap. On May 10, 2015 I gave the commencement speech at the Neag School of Education, the University of

Lessons Learned: Helping Students Experience the Global Marketplace

By Eileen Sheehy
2014 Global Learning Fellow and educator at Billings West High School in Billings, MT

This blog series features the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows, a cohort of educators who participated in a year-long supported learning experience to build global competency skills, culminating in international field study.

Photo: Eileen

My Day in Sixth Grade Math Class

By Jesse Graytock
NEA Foundation Grants Manager
The NEA Foundation

“Are you a secret agent?”

That’s how I was greeted as I entered Stefanie Root’s 6th grade classroom at Dixon-Smith Middle School in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was an understandable response from a 12 year old. Joined by

Huffington Post Blog: Why Urban Farming Helps Students Across Disciplines

By Harriet Sanford
President & CEO
The NEA Foundation

Photo courtesy of Active Citizen Project/Project EATs

Happy Earth Day! In our latest Huffington Post Blog, we explore how students getting their hands in the earth goes way beyond STEM education.

"The greenhouse at Fernwood Montessori, a

Join the NEA Foundation's National Poetry Month Challenge

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” – Rita Dove, Poet Laureate of the United States, 1993-1995

This month schools across the nation come together to recognize the poets and poetry that have made a huge impact on

5+ Resources and Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers of STEM

Recently, Change the Equation launched the nationwide Start with STEM campaign, with the intent of bringing the nation’s highest quality K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs to students and teachers. The architects of

5 Ways to Teach Global Competency Through Experiential Learning

What does it mean to educate students for life and work in the global innovation age? The NEA Foundation’s Global Learning Fellows shared their takeaways in our “Reflections” series, as well as their downloadable lesson plans

Teaching Global Awareness: It’s More Than Just Exposure

This blog series features the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows, a cohort of public school educators who participated in a year-long supported professional development learning experience to build global competency skills. The fellowship

Our Favorite NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala Moments

Was it the first ever on-stage selfie or the brilliant smiles on the faces of 39 educators and the cheers they received as they crossed the stage to receive the 2015 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence

Or was it the gifted

Show your love for educators on Valentine’s Day Eve: Watch gala LIVE!

Special gala honorees, the late author, Walter Dean Myers, and his son, award-winning illustrator, Christopher Myers, collaborated on a number of children’s books. 

Watch the entire event, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at,

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Celebrate the best of public education with us. Reserve your seats now!


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.