How a Texas School District Finds Innovation in Teaching with Peer Assistance and Review

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 issue, providing a dedicated coach, and sharing online curriculum on how to lead change and reform.

Photo: Shelley Potter, of the local union, and Emilio Castro, of the school district make up two members of the team 

1. Why did your school district

5 Educators Tips to Prep for the New School Year

By Nancy Kunsman
NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grant recipient
and language arts educator at Gore High School in Gore, Oklahoma

We asked a recent NEA Foundation grant recipient what she does to prepare for the upcoming school year. Check out her tips for quashing those first-day jitters and setting the course for an amazing school year!

1. Get Your Classroom Ready


These Educators Are Having the Best Summer Ever

While many of their students soak up the joy of a homework-free summer, educators who received $2,000 Learning & Leadership Grants from the NEA Foundation have been hard at work completing professional development opportunities and preparing

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

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 Education Grant Opportunities You Won’t Want to Miss

Photo by Flickr user ⣫⣤⣇⣤

As the February 1 deadline approaches to submit Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grant proposals to the NEA Foundation, there’s no better time than now to take a look at

Lessons Learned: Gardening, Puppets, and English Language Learners

Tell us about your plans for your NEA Foundation grant project.

As part of our “Language Acquisition through the Arts, Science, and Technology” grant project, my partner, Doreen Wells, and I hosted two gardening experts, who talked with

6 Tips to Improve Your Grant Proposal

By Jesse Graytock
Grants Manager
The NEA Foundation

As the October 15, 2014 deadline for applications for Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership grants approaches, we thought it would be helpful to share a few key grant writing tips that can guide you as you prepare your proposal.

  • Know why you

Huffington Post Blog: A Good Start for Schools and Students

By Harriet Sanford
President & CEO
The NEA Foundation

“It’s no surprise that too many students start each school year without the supplies they need, or walk into classrooms that don’t have the resources required for a productive year. For anyone who knows a teacher, it’s also

Lessons Learned: On second chances and hope— through education

Tell us about your plans for your NEA Foundation funded grant project.

The grant provided funding for me to attend the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Convention. For four days, I was immersed in learning and surrounded by people who

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Join us on February 10, 2017!

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.