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

Nicole Gloude

Illinois Elementary School, Park Forest, IL
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2015, Spring

Through the use of “Smart Centers,” Gloude and Green will address the five key components of reading instruction.  Each “Smart Center” will engage students in cooperative learning and allow for differentiation and modification of content to meet ... more »

Kellie Humphrey

Haymon-Morris Middle School, Winder, GA
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2015, Spring

To create a positive change in teaching and learning, Humphrey and Wiggley will introduce “WildcatsCONNECT (WC).” The program will introduce a dynamic vision in which all students are connected and actively engaged in teaching and learning. Humphrey and Wiggley ... more »

Mary Footman

Pinellas Secondary School, Pinellas Park, FL
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2015, Spring

Through “Behavior and Management Moments (BAMM),” students will be provided with the opportunity to address relevant issues and hear real world stories that teach important life skills while helping them understand the dangers of risky behavior. BAMM will ... more »

Tracy Ajello

Doolittle School, Cheshire, CT
Grades K-5, Science
2015, Spring

Ajello and Gallagher will have their fifth and second grade classes collaborate on a series of cross-curricular lessons. Students will create a radiometer chandelier to measure the sun’s rays, create light sculptures to observe shadows and additive properties of light ... more »

Dan Frank

Rocklin High School, Rocklin, CA
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2015, Spring

Through “Ideation, Innovation, and Engineering Success,” Frank and Tackett will build upon mechanical engineering foundations and best practices established by leading research institutions. The project will facilitate experiential learning by allowing students ... more »

William Wagner

Nordhoff High School, Ojai, CA
Grades 9-12, Music
2015, Spring

To captivate students who use technology daily, Wagner will introduce tablet technology in his music classes. Students will access programs that quickly, accurately, and discretely assess performance, allowing them to learn in pressure-free private settings. Software will ... more »

Mary McKinley

Charter Oak High School, Covina, CA
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2015, Spring

To advance student engagement at multiple levels, McKinley and DeMonteverde will implement the use of tablets in their history classes. Students will use apps designed for individual and collaborative learning, including Khan Academy, which will aid in teaching historical ... more »

Jennifer “Rita” Platt

St. Croix Falls Elementary School, Saint Croix Falls, WI
Grades K-5, Library Media Specialist
2015, Winter

To ensure the communal understanding and consistent implementation of the Daily 5 and Daily Café reading models, Platt and Gudmunsen will lead a professional learning community at St. Croix Falls Elementary School. Through the project, participants will strengthen ... more »

Caroline Hay

Tualatin High School, Tualatin, OH
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2015, Winter

To improve her instruction of Spanish language courses, Hay will attend the National Association for Bilingual Education’s annual conference. While there, Hay will learn strategies to design course materials that are beneficial and meaningful to Latino students. Upon ... more »

Danielle Penrod

Waverly Junior High School, Waverly, OH
Grades 6-8, STEM
2015, Winter

Penrod and her colleagues will design interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) units of study that will meet Common Core Math and English/Language Arts Standards, as well as Ohio New Learning Standards for Science and Social Studies. Unit ... more »

Diana Pierson

Sheffield Middle School, Sheffield Village, OH
Grades 6-8, Education Support Professional
2015, Winter

To receive quality training that will enable her to provide support to students with social and emotional issues, Pierson will attend the NEA ESP Conference.  While there, Pierson will network with and learn from Education Support Professionals from throughout the ... more »

Kristine Serrao

The East Village Community School, New York, NY
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2015, Winter

To address the implementation of Common Core Standards at the East Village Community School, Serrao and Abell will implement a math lesson study group. The cohort will meet on an ongoing basis to discuss curriculum, learn how students best retain mathematical concepts, and ... more »

Elliot Cohen

Holmdel High School, Holmdel, NJ
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2015, Winter

To redesign and update financial literacy curriculum to align with state standards, Cohen will attend the National Business Education Association’s “Educating for Success in Business and Life” institute. Upon completing the institute, Cohen will attend ... more »

Marcia Hudson

Avondale School District, Auburn Hills, MI
Grades 9-12, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2015, Winter

Through “Teacher Lab,” educators within the Avondale School District will engage in continuous, grounded, meaningful, and effective professional development. During the lab, participants will fine tune the dialogue and energy included in professional learning ... more »

Michelle Venable

Oakdale Elementary School, Ijamsville, MD
Grades K-5, Arts
2015, Winter

To improve her visual arts instruction, Venable will attend the National Art Educators Association’s national convention. While there, Venable will learn how to better implement technology in the classroom and seek better ways to use assessment. Additionally, Venable ... more »

Michael Kelley

North High School, Evansville, IN
Grades 9-12, Physics
2015, Winter

To improve physics instruction in his freshman classrooms, Kelley will attend a three week modeling instruction training at Arizona State University.  While there, Kelley will study examples of curriculum that focus on connecting with entry level physics students. Upon ... more »

Jean Kilpatrick-Ruebner

Steele Elementary School, Galesburg, IL
Grades K-5, Teacher
2015, Winter

To keep both new and experienced educators focused on the importance of building relationships with students and colleagues, Kilpatrick-Ruebner and Bredemeier will introduce the “Dream Big Book Club.” Through the book club, educators will learn methods to set ... more »

Loretta Sherwood-Labrador

Kualapuu Public Conversion Charter School, Kualapuu, HI
Grades K-5, Language Arts
2015, Winter

To address structural changes within their school, Sherwood-Labrador and Castro-Lichtenstein will establish an on-site collaborative leadership training program for classroom best practices. The program will use an evidence-based distributed leadership process that will ... more »

Michael Wooten

James Campbell High School, Ewa Beach, HI
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2015, Winter

Through “Learning First Hawaii,” Wooten and a group of educators from throughout Hawaii will conduct a detailed study of teacher professional development. The study will use quantitative, qualitative, and academic research to identify areas of need and examine ... more »

Dr. Kristen Wells

San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Higher Education, Lecturer
2015, Winter

Dr. Wells will attend a series of professional development courses through local and online universities which will enable her to build advanced skills in mental health, supervision, and the delivery of mental health services. Upon completion of training, Dr. Wells will ... more »

Sarah Breyer

Mesa View Middle School, Huntington Beach, CA
Grades 6-8, Social Studies
2015, Winter

Beyer will participate in a “Where Everybody Belongs (WEB)” training, in which she will learn methods to assist students transitioning into middle school. Beyer will use the knowledge gained to create a support system and welcoming team for all new students. The ... more »

Debbie Maki

Pleasant Valley School District, Camarillo, CA
Grades K-5, Resource Specialist
2015, Winter

To address the implementation of Common Core State Standards, Maki will spearhead the creation of a district-wide writing leadership team. Members of the team will learn about implementation models and will in turn mentor and support educators at their respective schools by ... more »

Megan Swanson

Calabasas High School, Calabasas, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2015, Winter

To gain knowledge of inquiry-driven, community-based learning for the benefit of the environment, Swanson will complete a global field studies course through Miami University of Ohio's Earth Expeditions Program. Swanson will use her new knowledge to collaborate with ... more »

Dr. Leslie Chekin

Annandale High School, Annandale, VA
Grades 9-12, English
2015, Winter

Through the continuation of the “Theatre Without Borders” program, Dr. Chekin and her colleagues will strengthen the communication skills of English Language Learners through reading and performing Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” Additionally, ... more »

Marian Kelley

Lucie E. Campbell School, Memphis, TN
Grades K-5, Special Education
2015, Winter

To increase mastery of specific math skills, Kelley and Harris will create a study group that will target third and fourth grade students. During weekly discussions students will utilize the abacus, which they will use to solve rigorous problems regarding place value and ... more »

Cathy Whitehead

West Chester Elementary School, Henderson, TN
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2015, Winter

To improve literacy skills across all Common Core Standards, Whitehead and Cloud will introduce “Reading A to Z” in their classrooms. The program will enable students to use the interactive “RAZ Kids” student learning portal to drive reading ... more »

Krista Williams

Sam Case Primary School, Newport, OR
Grades K-5, Special Education
2015, Winter

Williams and Bernardi will collaborate to provide authentic learning opportunities for special education students in general education classrooms. The students will use 21st Century technology to engage in hands-on activities focused on ocean literacy. The activities will ... more »

Caitlin Arendt

Vermilion High School, Vermilion, OH
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2015, Winter

Through Arendt’s broadcast journalism class, students will use field cameras to create a series of news stories. The hands-on experience will enhance student learning and endow them with essential digital skills. Students will analyze, evaluate, and create digital ... more »

Belinda Adams

TST BOCES, Ithaca, NY
Higher Education, Music
2015, Winter

Through “World Wide Music,” students with disabilities will have access to technology that will allow them to create original compositions. Students will use tablet and projector technology to compose and perform songs. Additionally, the technology will be used ... more »

Denise Leonard

P.S. 15, Brooklyn, NY
Grades K-5, History
2015, Winter

Leonard and Pantuliano will work with a local nonprofit to host a series of puppetry workshops that focus on local history and government. The workshops will aim to improve the literacy and oral language skills of English Language Learners by linking language and content ... more »

Jennifer Choate

Nizhoni Elementary School, Shiprock, NM
Grades K-5, Gifted and Talented
2015, Winter

To help gifted and general education enrichment students advance their artistic, storytelling, and problem solving skills, Choate and Harvey will introduce digital storytelling in their classrooms. Students will use technology to submit stories describing the lasting mark ... more »

Tamika Withers

Park Avenue School, Orange, NJ
Grades K-5, Arts
2015, Winter

Through the “True Youth Fashion Design Institute,” Park Avenue School students will acquire knowledge of the fundamentals of sewing and fashion design through experimental learning. The program will empower youth through the development of self-expression, ... more »

Heidi Rivard

Highland-Goffe's Falls School, Manchester, NH
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2015, Winter

Rivard and Towne will introduce a leveled book library, in which they will curate leveled reading materials with a keen focus on young students with reading deficits. Classroom, special education, and English Language Learner teachers will provide intervention to students ... more »

Dr. Nancy Males

Twin Bridges High School, Twin Bridges, MT
Grades 9-12, Science
2015, Winter

Through “Fishing for Community Involvement,” students will design and conduct inquiry investigations that examine factors in their community that affect the health of local rivers and riparian areas. Students will use modern data collection equipment as part of ... more »

Ryan Werdon

Watertown-Mayer Public Schools, Watertown, MN
Grades 9-12, Music
2015, Winter

Through the “World Music Drumming” project, Werdon’s students will improve teamwork, concentration, cultural understanding, and musical comprehension. Students will study the drumming and songs of different cultures as well as technique and movement using ... more »

Cristina Benz

Washburn High School, Minneapolis, MN
Grades 9-12, Arts
2015, Winter

Through “Art in the Community,” Washburn High School will offer students an art course that will encourage students to examine relevant social issues. Students will work with artists from throughout the Twin Cities to create artwork and theater projects and ... more »

Robert Zbikowski

Hibbing Community College, Hibbing, MN
Higher Education, Science
2015, Winter

Zbikowski will work with educators at Lincoln Elementary School to help introduce a hands-on science lesson in third grade classrooms. Students will have access to optics demonstrations and experiments that will help them understand reflection, refraction, color mixing, and ... more »

Susan Schmidt

Somerville High School, Somerville, MA
Grades 9-12, Science
2015, Winter

To improve student inquiry skills in the laboratory, Schmidt and colleagues will incorporate the use of Vernier probeware in chemistry experiments. A series of inquiry lab exercises will be designed that allow students to ask questions and design procedures to answer their ... more »

Christopher Stone

Pond Hill Elementary School, Wallingford, CT
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2015, Winter

Stone and Colonese will work with community members to enhance the CT Stem Academy. This innovative enrichment program will extend the learning day for middle grade and secondary students interested in deepening their knowledge of STEM concepts. The Academy’s programs ... more »

Deborah LeAnce

School of Extended Educational Options, Pomona, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2015, Winter

Through “Healthy Communities and Food Justice,” LeAnce’s students will participate in an interdisciplinary class in which they investigate healthy food choices. Students will explore food science, sustainability, and the path food takes from farm to table. ... more »

Jennifer Dickinson

Solano County Office of Education, Fairfield, CA
Higher Education, Computers / Technology
2015, Winter

To support exceptional learners, enable differentiated instruction, and provide whole group, small group, and individual instruction, Dickinson and her colleagues will deliver content through web-based multimedia learning tools. Using white boards and a number of ... more »

Holly Whitt

Walnut Grove Elementary School, New Market, AL
Grades K-5, Librarian
2015, Winter

Through the “Robots for the Real Word” math program, Whitt and Brandon will introduce hands-on robotics lessons in their classrooms. Using Sphero robotic balls, iPad minis, and Common Core aligned curriculum modules, students will strengthen their understanding ... more »

Holley Tullis

Hillcrest High School, Evergreen, AL
Grades 9-12, Library Media Specialist
2015, Winter

Hillcrest High School students will use technology to create a seamless digital montage representing a self-chosen theme. Tullis and Williams will act as collaborative partners and facilitators and will infuse lessons with creativity, critical thinking, decision making, ... more »

Nicole Peterson

West Fargo High School, West Fargo, ND
Grades 9-12, Physical Education / Health
2014, Fall

To improve the variety of dance offerings in her physical education classes, Mrs. Peterson will attend the National Dance Education Organization’s National Conference. While there, Mrs. Peterson will work with colleagues to improve her collaboration with other ... more »

Colleen McDonald

Cambridge Central School, Cambridge, NY
Grades 9-12, Language Arts
2014, Fall

Ms. McDonald and Ms. Goss will create a diverse library that will support continued learning by providing accessible resources and targeted study topics. Teachers will be empowered to lead change through the development of professional learning communities, embrace ... more »

Joanne Szegedi

Lowell Elementary School, Bellingham, WA
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2014, Fall

Through “iPads as Instructional Tools,” elementary school para-educators will train middle school para-educators to use tablets as instructional tools. This model of learning and leadership will provide strong professional development for staff and continuity ... more »

Whitney Stafford-Najibi

Westmoore High School, Oklahoma City, OK
Grades 9-12, Foreign Language Teacher
2014, Fall

Mrs. Stafford-Najibi will improve her professional practice by attending the American Council on Teaching Foreign Language Convention. While there, Mrs. Stafford-Najibi will attend sessions focused on integrating global competence into curriculum. Upon completion, Mrs. ... more »

Adam Kinory

The School of the Future, New York, NY
Grades 9-12, Language Arts
2014, Fall

Mr. Adam Kinory, New York

10th Grade Language Arts Teacher, The School of the Future

Partner: Mr. Joshua Hurley-Bruno

Grant Amount: $5,000

To directly address achievement gaps, Mr. Kinory and Mr. Hurley-Bruno will develop a school-wide culture of teacher-led professional ... more »

Susan Kellner

H.O. Brumsted Elementary, Holland, NY
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2014, Fall

To learn strategies to assist struggling readers, Mrs. Kellner will work with a Fellow from the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. Mrs. Kellner will use the Orton-Gillingham method of learning with her first grade students, particularly those who ... more »

Filomena Vine

Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV
Grades 9-12, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
2014, Fall

Ms. Vine will attend the iNACOL Blended Online Learning Symposium, at which she will learn methods to individualize instruction. Ms. Vine will attend workshops that will enable her to implement competency-based learning programs that provide equity through innovative ... 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!

 

If you attended the gala, you can view and purchase your favorite shots from the photo booth 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.