Awards Gala

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools and of the unique bonds that educators and students share.

Grantees

Joanne Freimuth

Linganore High School, Frederick, MD
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Teachers in the World Languages professional learning community will learn how to create highly interactive lessons using Livescribe Smartpens.  The pens will then be introduced to classrooms, where students will be able to use them to record lectures and word ... more »

Kazimiera Dewese

Gower Middle School, Burr Ridge, IL
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Mrs. Dewese will attend the Science Education for Public Understanding (SEPUP) Academy in Silverthorne, Colorado.  While there, she will study literacy strategies that support reading comprehension as well as written, oral, and media literacy; technology tools; ... more »

Julie Vanhoose

Norcrest Elementary, Pompano Beach, FL
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Norcrest Elementary School educators will implement the International Baccalaureate/Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) in all grade levels and with all students.  The IBPYP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people.  Educators at Norcrest ... more »

Elizabeth Montano

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Los Angeles, CA
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Ms. Montano will attend the Columbia Teachers’ College Summer Workshop to improve her classroom practice so that she can provide her predominantly Latino student population with culturally relevant stories.  Upon returning from the workshop, Ms. Montano’s ... more »

Kathryn Grimble

Sunnymead Middle School, Moreno Valley, CA
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Mrs. Grimble and Ms. Hines will study several books and professional articles on differentiated instruction for middle schools and will apply what they learn to lessons for the upcoming school year.  They will share this information with the language arts department ... more »

Amanda Hoggle

Vance Elementary, Vance, AL
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Teachers at Vance Elementary will receive training in fundamental conceptual mathematics instruction.  A team of five educators will work together to strengthen the current math program by increasing students’ abilities to reason and solve problems ... more »

Leah Wendt

Prospect Elementary School, Lake Mills, WI
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Ms. Wendt and Mrs. Collins will foster creative, constructive writing through the use of twenty first century technology tools.  “From Pen and Paper to Mouse and Keyboard” will use innovative web 2.0 technologies, including blogs, wikis, webinars, podcasts, ... more »

Heidi McNitt

School District of Osceola, Osceola, WI
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Educators within the School District of Osceola will be provided with interactive whiteboards for classroom instruction.  This technology will promote high quality, equitable instruction while improving student achievement in language arts and mathematics.  ... more »

Keyunda Wilson

Van Asselt Elementary, Seattle, WA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Students at Van Asselt Elementary will increase math proficiency through hands on exercises.  Scales will be used in math classes at all grade levels for measurement practice, with an emphasis on algebra understanding at the intermediate grade levels.  Students ... more »

Kyle Niekamp

Yale Elementary, Ariel, WA
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Students at Yale Elementary and community volunteers create and maintain an outdoor organic learning center.  The center will allow students to view and interact with numerous living systems.  The hub of the learning center will be a greenhouse, which will promote ... more »

Richard Rigby

Birch Creek Elementary, Smithfield, UT
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Mr. Rigby and Mrs. Cox will improve students’ mastery of technology by introducing Smart Boards and clickers in the classroom.  Students will work in groups to compile materials for use in multimedia classroom presentations.  Additionally, the less ... more »

Andrea Tejada

Columbia Heights Elementary, San Antonio, TX
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Mrs. Tejada and Mrs. Root will lead students in the expansion of a school garden.  By planning and cultivating the garden, student will observe the life cycle of plants and will understand the origins of the vegetables they eat.  Additionally, rain barrels will be ... more »

Maria Ann Geffers

East Stroudsburg Area High School, East Stroudsburg, PA
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Spring

Mrs. Geffers and Ms. Huffman will offer students an understanding of environmental science careers and public policy by encouraging them to consider the issues and debates surrounding energy and the environment through the lens of local, state, and global economies.  ... more »

Jennifer Keene

Legend Elementary, Newark, OH
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

To bridge the gap between special and general education students, Mrs. Keene and Mrs. Herrmann will introduce iPads in their classrooms as a way to enhance lessons through the use of technology.  The project will enable Mrs. Keene and Mrs. Herrmann to create innovative ... more »

Jillian Baker

Springfield Middle School, Holland, OH
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Through “Virtual Book Buddies,” eighth grade students at Springfield Middle School will create digital storybooks.  Students will record themselves reading the books aloud and the recordings will be used as learning tools to assist kindergarten ... more »

Renee Snyder

Goshen Lane Elementary, Gahanna, OH
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

To address the necessity of technological literacy in successful twenty first century learners, Ms. Snyder and Ms. Stoll will provide students with interactive multimedia technology via iPads and laptops.  The devices will be used to support academic needs, provide ... more »

Paula Tate

Draughn High, Valdese, NC
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2011, Spring

In a collaboration of language arts and social studies classes, Draughn High students will conduct oral history projects based on student interests and class assignments.  These projects will require students to identify subjects, create questions, conduct interviews, ... more »

Kathy Green

Carroll T. Overton Elementary School, Salisbury, NC
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Spring

Mrs. Green and Mrs. Rutherford will expose students to nineteenth century culture through a visit to the historic Biltmore Estate and Grounds.  Through hands on interactive lessons, students will discover the rich history that exists within the walls of the estate and ... more »

Melissa Hamlin

Meadowview Middle School, Mount Airy, NC
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Through “Water Quality, Water Quality, What’s Your Location?,” students will use technology, the school campus, and the community to develop real world understanding of the importance of water.  The project will integrate language arts, science, math, ... more »

Kristine Ackerman

Skoi Yase Primary School, Waterloo, NY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

To address a growing student population in need of additional reading support, faculty at Skoi Yase Primary School will create a leveled library.  The use of leveled books will enable Mrs. Ackerman and Ms. Cotter to provide differentiated guided reading instruction and ... more »

Katrina Macht

Hillside Intermediate School, Bridgewater, NJ
Grades 6-8, Arts
2011, Spring

Mrs. Macht and Mr. Sgro will introduce “Youth Engaged in Service through the Arts (YES A+),” a unit that will use the core principles of service learning to bring youth voice and choice into the school day.  The project will guide students in the ... more »

Scott Kukan

Farms Intermediate School, Brighton, MI
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Spring

Mr. Kukan and Mrs. Markby will implement the “Global Perspective Project,” which will provide students with a hands on approach to social studies learning.  Students will focus on the “where” and “why” of the world and on the people ... more »

Arthur Andres

Aliamanu Middle School, Honolulu, HI
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Through the “Cleaner Energy Project,” Mr. Andres and Mrs. Young will work collaboratively to engage students in proper research skills and inquiry based science labs focused on the topic of renewable energy.  After completing preliminary labs and research, ... more »

Carla Kabwatha

DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts, Atlanta, GA
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Through “The World of Engineering,” DeKalb Elementary students will be exposed to a comprehensive instructional unit on engineering fields.  Students will then use engineering concepts to design and build robots to compete in the school wide “Robocup ... more »

Shenell Collier

J.L. Newbern Middle School, Valdosta, GA
Grades 6-8, English
2011, Spring

To help students develop advanced writing, research, critical thinking, and presentation skills, Mrs. Collier and Mrs. Almond will engage students in a production that incorporates rap, singing, and dramatic presentations based on their social studies and language arts ... more »

Christine Carter

Chestnut Elementary School, Kissimmee, FL
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Mrs. Carter and Mr. Berrios will introduce their third grade students to an integrated curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  In this construction challenge, students will design and test scale roller coasters and study the ... more »

Candice Stotz

Carlton Hills Elementary, Santee, CA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Ms. Stotz and Ms. McCurdy will enhance reading and math lessons through the use of the TeacherMate system, a technology designed for differentiated and individualized instruction in elementary classrooms.  Students will work in teams of six and partake in small group ... more »

Deborah Polhemus

Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

In order to increase the Latino graduation rate at Wakefield High School, teachers will develop relationships with Latino families through the Wakefield Home Visit Project.  Teachers of English language learners, special education students, and ninth grade students ... more »

Ruston Roberts

Morgan Elementary School, Morgan, UT
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

The entire Morgan Elementary School faculty will study the book How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students by Susan Brookhart.  Collaborative teams will review the text, the research, and student and classroom data over the course of the year to support ... more »

Jimmie Walker

Cambridge Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mrs. Walker will attend the Connecting the Mind, Brain and Education Institute on brain research at Harvard University.  At the institute, Mrs. Walker will work with experts in the area of brain research to design and plan specific ways to use cutting edge research to ... more »

Caroline Hay

Tualatin High School, Tualatin, OR
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2011, Winter

Ms. Hay will attend the White Privilege Conference, hosted by the Minnesota Justice Collaborative.  Knowledge acquired through the conference will be applied to Ms. Hay’s curriculum in her course Race in 21st Century America, in which students study issues of ... more »

Christina Hargaden

Gordon Russell Middle School, Gresham, OR
Grades 6-8, English
2011, Winter

Ms. Hargaden will attend Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in the summer of 2011.  Upon returning, she will lead a team reading and writing workshop at her school to implement and refine an approach to literacy instruction.  ... more »

Danette Narron

Edgewood Community Developmental School, Goldsboro, NC
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Ms. Narron and Ms. Sanders will establish a yearlong induction program for paraprofessionals at Edgewood Community Developmental School.  To help new paraprofessionals become more effective in classrooms, learning communities will use reflection, skill enhancement, and ... more »

Deborah Alcorn

Northern High School, Durham, NC
Grades 9-12, English
2011, Winter

Ms. Alcorn will study language and literacy learning in the lives of urban youth by taking the Hip Hop, Youth Culture, and Critical Pedagogy course at Middlebury College.  Through her work, Ms. Alcorn will develop a better understanding of the powerful oral and written ... more »

Sara Oaks

Baldwinsville Central School District, Baldwinsville, NY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Ms. Oaks will attend the five-day Summer Reading Institute at Columbia University's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project to gain the tools needed to implement a successful reading workshop model in her classroom.  Upon completion of the institute, Ms. Oaks will ... more »

Kris Caulfield

Waterside Children's Studio School, PS 317, Rockaway Parke, NY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Ms. Caulfield will attend Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP), a leading educational institute in advancing teaching techniques that align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  After attending the seminar, Ms. ... more »

Michael Rozalski

State University of New York at Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Through a collaborative partnership with county emergency medical services, Dr. Rozalski and Dr. Urso will be prepared to train pre-service teachers to respond to emergency situations and to manage safe environments for medically fragile children in school settings.  ... more »

Joseph Pizzo

Black River Middle School, Chester, NJ
Grades 6-8, English
2011, Winter

Mr. Pizzo and Mrs. Aiello will lead a professional learning community to reinforce writing as a skill integral to all curricula.  Exemplary lead teachers in the district will team with professionals from the College of Saint Elizabeth not only to provide training for ... more »

Christina Brockett

Kirk L. Adams Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mrs. Brockett will lead a professional learning community in the study of differentiated instruction.  The project will support teachers by allowing them to explore specific site based educational needs.  Group members will collaborate regularly to identify ... more »

Megan Gruis

Pioneer Ridge Middle School, Chaska, MN
Grades 6-8, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mrs. Gruis and Mrs. Rother will introduce Where Everybody Belongs (WEB), a middle school transition program that helps sixth grade students feel comfortable throughout the first year of their middle school experience.  WEB will foster a belief that students want to and ... more »

Michael Reeser

Central Lakes College, Brainerd, MN
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mr. Reeser will attend the Certified Welding Educator Seminar and Examination.  As a result, he will be able to provide students with improved learning experiences and better evaluations and assessments.  The increased standards will provide students with a real ... more »

Kara Clayton

Thurston High School, Redford, MI
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

To enhance her media literacy, Mrs. Clayton will attend the National Association of Media Literacy Education’s Biennial Conference.  Participants will learn to engage students in the use of media technology and consumption so that they may participate globally in ... more »

Heidi Houseman

Muskegon Public School, Muskegon, MI
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2011, Winter

Teachers in Muskegon County school districts will implement Camp Shout Out, a multi-layered learning environment for children who stutter, their families, and speech therapists.  Speech therapists will be trained by board certified fluency specialists who have ... more »

Chris Baer

Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, Oak Bluffs, MA
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mr. Baer and Mrs. Holter will lead a program which will connect U.S. teachers with teachers in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to explore best practices for equipping students with the 21st-century skills needed to thrive in an increasingly integrated global ... more »

Diarra Robertson

Bowie State University, Bowie, MD
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Dr. Robertson will examine the impact of preparatory tools in improving student performance on the Graduate Record Exam.  The goal of the research is to determine if prior preparation improves performance in the specific areas with which students struggle.  By ... more »

Joyce Elliot

Dirigo Elementary School, Peru, ME
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mrs. Elliot will lead a collegial study in Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK), a framework for increasing technology integration.  After an overview of the TPCK model and exposure to several sample units, teachers will work in grade level teams to ... more »

Christina Faulk

McKinley High School, Baton Rouge, LA
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2011, Winter

Ms. Faulk will attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference to participate in sessions designed to build stronger teacher content knowledge, student-teacher relationships, parent-teacher relationships, and hands on learning experiences.  After the ... more »

Kathleen Ritchie

Dorris Intermediate School, Collinsville, IL
Grades 6-8, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Mrs. Ritchie will attend the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children’s Practitioners’ Assembly and learn new methods of providing services to students and staff during crisis situations.  As a member of the district’s Help and Response Team ... more »

Donica Cuspard

Redan Elementary School, Lithonia, GA
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Dr. Cuspard will attend the ASCD Annual Conference to enhance her knowledge about learning opportunities that help educators create better schools and improve teaching and learning programs.  The learning will assist Dr. Cuspard in her position as Redan ... more »

Vernita Moore

Jefferson Davis Middle School, Jacksonville, FL
Grades 6-8, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Ms. Moore will attend the 2011 National Science Teacher Association conference and learn strategies to bridge the learning gaps students are experiencing in earth and life science.  Ms. Moore and her department expect content retention to increase and student test ... more »

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.