West Springfield team sees impact of “Learning Conversations” on students

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. 

 


What did you hope to accomplish by joining the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning?

West Springfield Public School

Best of the Cross-Site Convening: On poverty, race, global assessment, and student voice

How do we frame the issues of poverty, race, and inequality in public education? Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, offers her take on leaving no child behind.  

What does global student assessment data mean

Huffington Post Blog: To Help Our Most Challenged Students, Listen to Them- And Embrace Who They Are

By Harriet Sanford
President & CEO
The NEA Foundation



Lexi is a bright, confident young woman at one of Washington, D.C.'s best public high schools. Austin is a two-sport student-athlete in western Pennsylvania. David, in his first year of college, is a community scholar at a prestigious Washington, DC

What do Charles Blow, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Marian Wright Edelman have in common?

They're all contributing to powerful discussions at the NEA Foundation’s upcoming Cross-Site Convening.

More than 200 education thought leaders will come together in Washington, D.C. to engage in conversations around union-district

Solving the Latino drop-out crisis: Educators and policymakers need diverse toolkit

By Molly M. Scott
The Urban Institute


Image courtesy of CASA de Maryland

The demography of our schools is changing rapidly. In response, education researchers are putting out more and more nuanced analysis about the intersection of race, income, parental education, English language

Union effectiveness: Listen and lead, says Rhonda Johnson

By Rhonda Johnson
President, Columbus (Ohio) Education Association

I entered teaching in 1978 at the culmination of one of the stormiest periods in Ohio labor history. I’ve seen the struggle up close. I also have seen progress born from a willingness to sit down and talk, to reframe questions, to listen to

Education unions should tackle what we care about: working (and learning) conditions, says Kevin Welner

At a time when the nation’s policy makers have been counter-productively attempting to manipulate educators with enticements and threats, it’s important to remember the research that shows educators to be most responsive to working

Union capacity building will move vision forward, says Dennis Van Roekel

By Dennis Van Roekel
President, NEA


At the heart of education reform is the teachers union's relationship to students, parents, and community. We strive to lead our professions because it is a path to improve public schools – for our children and our communities. Regardless

Huffington Post Blog: It's About Time: Promising Efforts to Improve Our Schools With Right Amount of Time

By Harriet Sanford
President & CEO
The NEA Foundation



"We all know that the time educators spend in the classroom is just the tip of the iceberg. Grading papers, working with students before and after the bell rings, staff meetings and parent conferences -- these all add to the school day in ways that

NEA Foundation Report: One step toward blowing up back-end accountability

By Michael Fullan
Professor Emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto; Member, The NEA Foundation Senior Fellows Advisory Group

Jal Mehta drew a deeply insightful conclusion about the teaching profession in his book, "The Allure of Order," when he observed that policy makers are doing with accountability at the back end what they should have done with capacity building at

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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.