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

David Cedor

Collier Elementary School, Avondale, AZ
Grades K-5, English
2016, Winter

To become immersed in East African and Persian Gulf societies and their Indian Ocean-based historical connections, cultural norms, and educational systems, Mr. Cedor will participate in the Oman-Zanzibar Fulbright-Hays Study Group's seminars, coordinated by the University ... more »

Eli Rosenberg

Main Street Middle School, Montpelier, VT
Grades 6-8, Science
2016, Winter

Mr. Rosenberg and Ms. Chabot will introduce Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling (ARIS), a user-friendly platform for imaging, creating, and playing interactive stories and place-based games on mobile devices. Students will integrate their study of local natural ... more »

Sally Steward

Huntingdon Area Middle School, Huntingdon, PA
Grades 6-8, Library Media Specialist
2016, Winter

To create student innovators and leaders, Mrs. Steward and Ms. DeMatteo will implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum through the “STEM Connecting School to Life” program. The team will create classrooms that excite students and ... more »

Salena Minkler

Ocean Crest Elementary School, Bandon, OR
Grades K-5, Special Education
2016, Winter

Through the “I’m Ready!” project, Mrs. Minkler and Ms. Felber will use Ocean Crest Elementary School’s garden to foster greater project-based learning opportunities for students with disabilities. The garden project will act as a catalyst for ... more »

Denise Atkinson

Charlotte Choice Charter School, Charlotte, NC
Grades K-12, Literacy
2016, Winter

Ms. Atkinson and colleagues will introduce the Barton Reading and Spelling Program in their classrooms. Through the program, low performing students will be exposed to curriculum that will assist them in improving performance in reading, spelling, and writing. Student ... more »

Shannon Kelly

Howard T. Herber Middle School, Malverne, NY
Grades 6-8, Science
2016, Winter

Ms. Kelly and colleagues will redesign science curricula according to the Next Generation Science Standards.  The redesign will lead to a Regents-level course based on an inquiry model, wherein students will seek to arrive at their own conclusions based on data ... more »

Denise Leonard

PS 15, Brooklyn, NY
Grades K-12, History
2016, Winter

Ms. Leonard and Mrs. Pantuliano will host local history and government puppetry workshops at PS 15. The workshops, which will follow New York State Scope and Sequence Guidelines, will help improve the literacy and oral language skills of English Language Learners by linking ... more »

Judy Cruz

PS 314X, The Fairmont Neighborhood School, Bronx, NY
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2016, Winter

To improve students’ financial literacy skills, Ms. Cruz and Ms. Bellamy will introduce a stock market game and the “Earn Your Future” curriculum to third and fourth grade students.  The programs will help students improve academic performance through ... more »

Susan Benjamin

Little Falls Community Middle School, Little Falls, MN
Grades 6-8, Science
2016, Winter

To improve their abilities to solve problems, students at Little Falls Community Middle School will build and program robots. Students will use an iterative process of designing, testing, redesigning, and retesting as they complete a series of robotics challenges. Students ... more »

Donna McWilliams

Adams STEM Academy, Ypsilanti, MI
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2016, Winter

Through “Mobymax for Emotionally Impaired Students,” Mrs. McWilliams will introduce software that will meet students’ academic, emotional, and social needs. The software will help Mrs. McWilliams mainline emotionally impaired students and support them in ... more »

Lindsey Parker

Adrian Public Schools, Adrian, MI
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2016, Winter

To encourage visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning, Ms. Parker and Ms. McCarbery will introduce tablets in their special education classrooms.  Students will work with a number of apps that will provide alternative forms of mathematics and literacy instruction. ... more »

Kenneth Barnes

Rich East High School, Park Forest, IL
Grades 9-12, Science
2016, Winter

To increase student interest in science, Mr. Barnes will transform his traditional classroom into an inquiry-driven learning environment.  Inquiry-based activities, labs, and assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards ... more »

Christine O’Brien

Minooka Community High School, Channahon, IL
Grades 9-12, Language Arts
2016, Winter

To empower students to become lifelong readers, Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Beklen will introduce a library of young adult literature to their classrooms.  Students will study contemporary works of fiction and read and write character analysis.  Multidimensional ... more »

Karen Fothergill

Filer High School, Filer, ID
Grades 9-12, Arts
2016, Winter

Ms. Fothergill and Ms. Pierce will work with students to plan and create a mural at Filer Middle School.  Students will celebrate diversity and history while building a greater appreciation of visual art.  Students will experience the value of art education as ... more »

Charity Tirado

Poinciana Elementary School, Key West, FL
Grades K-5, STEM
2016, Winter

To improve problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills, kindergarten and fourth grade students will work together to complete a rigorous wind turbine project. Students will research turbine designs, record data, and create a movie to document their learning ... more »

Jonathan Georgitis

Centennial Middle School, Boulder, CO
Grades 6-8, Library Media Specialist
2016, Winter

Mr. Georgitis and Ms. McDaniel will create a dedicated, flexible “Makerspace” in Centennial Middle School’s media center. The learning space will allow students and staff to access new technologies while participating in hands-on projects. Additionally, ... more »

Ahbra Sargent

Calle Mayor Middle School, Torrance, CA
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2016, Winter

Mrs. Sargent and Mr. Cunningham will implement the Unique Learning System, a research-based online curriculum developed for students with moderate to severe disabilities. The curriculum will use age-appropriate books to focus on students with cognitive abilities several ... more »

Dr. Barbara Sorter

Val Verde Unified School District, Moreno Valley, CA
Grades K-12, Special Education
2016, Winter

To increase oral language development for students with autism and/or intellectual disabilities, Dr. Sorter and Mrs. Anderson will create a parent resource literacy room.  The resource room will provide parents with training on how to improve students’ ... more »

Joanne Breffle

Templeton High School, Templeton, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2016, Winter

To further their understanding of robotics, neuroscience, and programming, Templeton High School students will build robots controlled by neuro-cognitive commands. Students will gain hands-on knowledge of robot building and will gain insight into the fields of neuroscience ... more »

Emily Dietrich

Howard Elementary School, Green Bay, WI
Grades K-5, Special Education
2015, Fall

To respond to the needs of select groups of learners, Ms. Dietrich and colleagues will attend Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking training. Through this work, the cohort will gain insight on effective research-based strategies to ensure that students have the ... more »

Jolyn Collie

Clark County Vocational Skills Center, Vancouver, WA
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

After attending the Expeditionary Learning Conference, Mrs. Collie will lead a team of colleagues in developing stronger project based learning (PBL) curriculum for the school. In implementing PBL, Mrs. Collie and her colleagues will look to develop enjoyable, deeper ... more »

Katherine Kauffman

Norwin School District, North Huntingdon, PA
Grades 9-12, Library Media Specialist
2015, Fall

To become more adept at collaboration with teachers on Pennsylvania Core Standards, Ms. Kauffman will attend the American Association of School Librarians Conference and the Pennsylvania Library Association Conference. While attending these conferences, Ms. Kauffman will ... more »

Jennifer Kibler

East Aurora School District, East Aurora, NY
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2015, Fall

Ms. Kibler will lead “Math Beyond the Books,” a highly motivating professional development and instructional initiative aimed at increasing student growth in operations and algebraic thinking. Ms. Kibler will attend the Future of Education Technology Conference, ... more »

Elaine Maldonado

Fashion Institute of Technology - SUNY, New York, NY
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

Through “Pathways to Global Communication,” Ms. Madonado and Dr. Fallon will harness existing global perspectives and resources to the meet the challenge of communicating across cultures on campus. During a series of workshops, faculty will learn teaching ... more »

Christina Gauss

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Rumson, NJ
Grades 9-12, Foreign Language Teacher
2015, Fall

Ms. Gauss will travel to Cuba for an immersive cultural experience designed specifically for educators. While there, Ms. Gauss will enhance her Spanish language skills while developing a cultural understanding of the Cuban people and their perspective on being at the ... more »

Sharon Galt

Sterling High School, Somerdale, NJ
Grades 9-12, Foreign Language Teacher
2015, Fall

Ms. Galt will create a rigorous curriculum for Spanish students at every level by integrating language into a variety of contexts. Using the Advanced Placement (AP) Themes as a guide, Ms. Galt will travel to South America to immerse herself in language, collaborate with ... more »

Sharry Sparks

Rye Junior High School, Rye, NH
Grades 9-12, Education Support Professional
2015, Fall

Through “Envisioning Stronger Para-Professionals,” Mrs. Sparks and Dr. Richardson will conduct leadership training with para-professionals from multiple school districts, with a focus on districts that lack professional development opportunities. The academy ... more »

Elisabeth Olivera

Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, Springfield, MA
Grades 9-12, Arts
2015, Fall

Ms. Olivera and Dr. Bode will improve their teaching practice through the study of culture, history, and the arts via professional workshops for peer-faculty. After completing the workshops, faculty will establish courses in Afro Caribbean Dance and Music, as well as ... more »

Lisa Savage

RSU #74, Solon, ME
Grades 9-12, Literacy
2015, Fall

To improve writing instruction for all students, Ms. Savage and her colleagues will receive training in using mentor texts and digital platforms. Author Margy Burns Knight and author/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien will conduct in-service learning sessions based on ... more »

Jill White

Malcolm X College, Chicago, IL
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

Dr. White will investigate the experience of people of color with the Registered Dietitian Examination to understand barriers to successful completion. Dr. White will conduct a qualitative study by interviewing former students of color regarding their exam experiences. ... more »

Sandra L. Osorio

Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Higher Education, Science
2015, Fall

Dr. Osorio and Mrs. Sacco will collaborate to implement an action research study in three dual language classrooms. Teachers will look at their own teaching practices and how they relate to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). University professors will provide ... more »

Claire Gearen

Mililani High School, Mililani, HI
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

To understand new spaces and institutional practices around writing, Ms. Gearen will attend the International Writing Centers Association Conference. While there, Ms. Gearen will attend sessions, deliver and receive feedback on proposed teaching methods, and forge ... more »

Christopher Gates

Broward Virtual School, Coconut Creek, FL
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

Mr. Gates and Dr. Tukes will implement the “Early Years Teacher Academy,” a specially designed academic instruction and professional development program. Broward Virtual School teachers will be immersed in STEM project-based learning, as well as Learning Through ... more »

Kimberly DeLisa

West Woods Elementary School, Arvada, CO
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Fall

To ensure all students are able to achieve at high levels of learning, Mrs. DeLisa and Mrs. Kemper will implement change through professional learning communities (PLCs) at West Woods Elementary. PLCS will drive collaboration among teachers, assist with the creation of ... more »

Alana Cayabyab

Bijou Community School, South Lake Tahoe, CA
Grades K-5, English
2015, Fall

Ms. Cayabyab and colleagues will improve English Language Development (ELD) instruction at Bijou Community School and align it with the new Common Core State Standards ELD standards. Teachers will initially meet in vertical teams in which they will outline strengths, ... more »

Ann Asaro

La Mesa/Spring Valley School District, La Mesa, CA
Grades 9-12, Literacy
2015, Fall

Through “The Write Teachers,” Ms. Asaro will attend the Coaching Institute on Literacy Coaching and Whole School Reform through The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The institute will offer opportunities to study the staff development strategies ... more »

Camie Walker

John Murdy Elementary, Garden Grove, CA
Grades K-5, Science
2015, Fall

To improve her knowledge of the Next Generation Science Standards, Mrs. Walker will attend the California Science Teachers Association Conference. While there, Mrs. Walker will present a workshop on integrating engineering with Common Core Standards. Additionally, she will ... more »

Kristy Corbett

La Tercera Elementary School, Petaluma, CA
Grades K-5, STEM
2015, Fall

Mrs. Corbett and colleagues will design three Project Based Learning units per grade level, focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards as the foundation for their units. The units will create a grade-to-grade alignment of all standards. Each unit will include ... more »

Cynthia Larson-Faragalli

View Ridge Elementary School, Bremerton, WA
Grades K-5, English
2015, Fall

Through “Researching Habitats,” English Language Learners will be partnered with highly capable students for research and inquiry project-based learning. Students will observe small habitat enclosures within the classroom, explore habitats in their natural ... more »

Julie Wickersham

Lincoln Middle School, Clarkston, WA
Grades 6-8, Education Support Professional
2015, Fall

By producing videos that feature Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) scenarios, students at Lincoln Middle School will embark on mini lessons that will foster wellness. Students will write scripts, analyze and produce lessons, and share their films with ... more »

Georgeanne Lavery

Radford City School, Radford, VA
Grades 6-8, STEM
2015, Fall

Through “A Living Roof,” students will learn of the importance of clean water and ways to protect finite resources. Mrs. Lavery and Mrs. Rehak will work with students as they construct a green roof shelter. Students will design, test, and create the roof and ... more »

Wendy McMillan

Ervinton Elementary School, Nora, VA
Grades K-5, Language Arts
2015, Fall

To increase students’ mastery of writing and critical thinking skills and enhance their cultural awareness, Ms. McMillan and Mrs. Lee will partner with foreign teachers to create virtual classrooms. Through the use of tablet technology, students will learn about peers ... more »

Karen Ciotta

Epes Elementary School, Newport News, VA
Grades K-5, STEM
2015, Fall

Through “Classroom on Wheels,” Mrs. Ciotta and Mrs. McEaddy will integrate a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) program at Epes Elementary School. Students will visit several museums and theaters to engage in experiential learning. The ... more »

Amanda Varney

Vance Middle School, Bristol, TN
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2015, Fall

Through “Project 3D: Dream, Design, Develop,” students will improve their understanding of mathematical concepts, including proportional relationships and problem solving involving scale drawings and geometric constructions. Students will apply math skills to ... more »

David Brian Lasher

Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie, PA
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2015, Fall

Mr. Lasher and Mr. Luthringer will enhance Collegiate Academy’s International Relations class. The class will combine current events with theory and use discussion, Socratic Seminars, and gaming scenarios to promote critical thinking, collaboration, and problem ... more »

Diane Ward

Clearmount Elementary School, North Canton, OH
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2015, Fall

Mrs. Ward and Ms. Donley will set up math work stations in portable boxes and utilize various math manipulatives and games. Students will work with partners, independently, and with teachers to solve problems and practice math concepts. The project will also incorporate ... more »

Cale Garber

Gahanna Middle School South, Gahanna, OH
Grades 6-8, Social Studies
2015, Fall

Students at Gahanna Middle School South will use tablets to investigate the social studies curriculum, engage in historical research, and become active participants in ongoing formative assessment. Students will examine primary source documents that have been digitized, ... more »

Erin Simons

Vaughan Elementary School, Macon, NC
Grades K-5, Special Education
2015, Fall

To increase parental involvement, Ms. Simons and Ms. Konicki will work in partnership with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project team to train teachers in bi-annual home visits. Through the home visits, teachers will create partnerships, develop trust, and identify common ... more »

Nancy Kaplan

Edward B. Shallow JHS 227, Brooklyn, NY
Grades 6-8, Language Arts
2015, Fall

Mrs. Kaplan and Mrs. Dinkins will have their grammar students use investigative techniques to compose writing pieces, including oral histories, memoirs, interviews, and essays. The program will enhance and enrich the educational experiences of the school’s large ... more »

Karen Kennely

North Babylon UFSD High School, North Babylon, NY
Grades 9-12, Arts
2015, Fall

To address the implementation of the National Core Arts Standards at North Babylon High School, Mrs. Kennely and Mr. Lombardo will create a professional art gallery. Students will create works and build levels of understanding that will allow them to gain insights into the ... more »

Watch the Event!

 

Educators from across the country traded in their classrooms for a night on stage, where they were honored by more than 900 national education leaders and supporters in Washington, D.C.

 

Did you miss the live stream of the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 10, 2017? Now, you can watch the entire event above!

 

View and purchase your favorite photos from the evening. Did you step in to one of our photo booths? View and purchase your best shots here and here

 

Celebrating 43 Educators From Across the Country

It is our pleasure to distinguish these extraordinary educators with the 2017 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 (left to right):  Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of NEA; Gary Phoebus, President and CEO of NEA Member Benefits; Sonia Galaviz; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening’s finale, Sonia Galaviz, a fifth grade educator at Garfield Elementary School in Boise, Idaho, took home the top honor: the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000! 

 

Five Educators Receive Top Awards

Photo (left to right): Melissa Ladd, of Poplar Road Elementary School in Sharpsburg, Georgia; Stephanie Johnson, of HB Rhame Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina; Kelly Stacy, Senior Vice President for Field Operations and Distribution of the Horace Mann Educator Corporation; Al Rabanera, of La Vista High School in Fullerton, California; Sonia Galaviz, of Garfield Elementary School in Boise, Idaho; Carol Bauer, of Grafton Bethel Elementary School in Yorktown, Virginia;

 

 

 

 

Of the 43 educators honored that night, five also accepted the 2017 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! During the gala, videos starring each of these five educators premiered. Watch the videos to get a glimpse into the magic these educators share among their students.

 

Global Kids Honored

Photo (left to right): Host Victoria Rowell; Special Guest Maya Faison of Global Kids; Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Evie Hantzopoulos, Executive Director of Global Kids; Jerry O’Flanagan, Executive Vice President, Consumer Banking, First National Bank of Omaha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NEA Foundation also presented the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education to Global Kids for its efforts to engage students from Washington, D.C., and New York City by exposing them to global cultures and encouraging them to become active citizens in their own communities and in the world.  

 

 

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.

 

With Host, Actress and Advocate Victoria Rowell

Photo (left to right): Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Host Victoria Rowell; Beau Brown, President and CEO of California Casualty, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, Victoria Rowell, an actress, director, producer, advocate, and New York Times bestselling author of “The Women Who Raised Me,” served as charismatic emcee and host.

 

A former foster child herself, in 1990, she founded the Rowell Foster Care Children’s Positive Plan, providing services to students in: fine arts, higher education, healthcare, financial literacy, reunification programs, cultural enrichment, and family supports. She has received 12 NAACP Image Awards and been honored with the United Nations Association Award for her commitment to education, human rights, world peace, and her support of foster children.

 

That night, she 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

 

Performances by Washington, D.C.’s All Souls Church Choir and Christopher Rice, a cast member in the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, “The Book of Mormon,” wowed audiences.   

 

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 9, 2018

 

Save the date! We hope you will join us for next year's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 9, 2018.