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

Dr. Evelyn Dwyer

Love Chapel Elementary School, Erwin, TN
Grades K-5, Music
2013, Winter

Sandy Williams

Burke Elementary School, Burke, SD
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Erin Walsh

Central Bucks West High School, Doylestown, PA
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Vanessa Strassner

Hyde Elementary School, Coraopolis, PA
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Michelle Peake

César Chávez School, Portland, OR
Grades K-5, School Counselor
2013, Winter

Shellie Herrmann

Legend Elementary School, Newark, OH
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Jodi Dobben

Ella Canavan Elementary School, Medina, OH
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Jessica Nugent

Keene Central School, Keene Valley, NY
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Danielle Lerro

CIS 303, Bronx, NY
Grades 6-8, Teacher
2013, Winter

Aileen Florio

Pearl R. Miller Middle School, Kinnelon, NJ
Grades 6-8, English
2013, Winter

Mary Robinson

Fremont Public Schools, Fremont, NE
Grades K-5, Teacher of the Blind
2013, Winter

Lisa Partney Nicholson

Prairie View Elementary, O’Fallon, MO
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Mary Theresa Schmitz

Hassan Elementary School, Rogers, MN
Grades K-5, School Social Worker
2013, Winter

Robert Zbikowski

Hibbing Community College, Hibbing, MN
Higher Education, Science
2013, Winter

Jennifer Strickland

Laingsburg High School, Laingsburg, MI
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Winter

Mary Jo Erickson Connor

Nessacus Regional Middle School, Dalton, MA
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Stephen Sell

Clarksburg High School, Clarksburg, MD
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2013, Winter

Tamara Hofer Voegeli

Riverside Elementary School, Sioux City, IA
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Tim Sanders

Loogootee Intermediate School, Loogootee, IN
Grades 6-8, Teacher
2013, Winter

Cara Garmon

Judith Giacoma Elementary School, Westville, IL
Grades K-5, Physical Therapist
2013, Winter

Judy Shipman

Jefferson Early Childhood Center, Moline, IL
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Jennifer Rizzo

Bradley East Elementary School, Bradley, IL
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Angela Scott

Alton High School, Alton, IL
Grades 9-12, School Social Worker
2013, Winter

Orly Garcia

Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Beach, FL
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2013, Winter

Donna Phoenix

Michael F. Wallace Middle School, Waterbury, CT
Grades K-5, Physical Education
2013, Winter

Erin Pasillas

Selma Unified School District, Selma, CA
Grades K-5, Resource Specialist
2013, Winter

Georgette Whitbred

Niles Elementary School, Fremont, CA
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Kathleen Bailey

Oakland Technical High School, Oakland, CA
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Winter

Nancy Garcia

UCLA Community School, Los Angeles, CA
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Nicole Cunha

Firebaugh High School, Firebaugh, CA
Grades 9-12, Education Support Professional
2013, Winter

Moriel Purnell

Bush Middle School, Birmingham, AL
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Mary Sue Walker

Nathan Hale High School, Seattle, WA
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Spring

Ms. Walker will study at Mexico’s El Eden Biological Preserve, where she will gain field research skills and gather baseline data on the biodiversity of the area. Work will be conducted with a team of teacher researchers to learn field method protocols and tools ... more »

William Van Evera

HB Woodlawn School, Arlington, VA
Grades 9-12, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

Dr. Van Evera will lead a collegial reading group focused on building a sense of community among staff members and understanding how data analysis techniques can be used to guide continuous school improvement. Group readings will focus on school environment as an ... more »

Marie White

Red Hill Elementary School, North Garden, VA
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

Ms. White and Ms. Hilker will lead a study group focusing on the use of differentiation through the discussion of proactive, purposeful, responsive, and learner centered instruction. The group will target specific concepts and strategies related to differentiation ... more »

Angela Eckhoff

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
Higher Education, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

Dr. Eckhoff will guide a teacher learning community of recent graduates as they navigate their first teaching year in a primary grades classroom. Acting as a participant observer, Dr. Eckhoff will facilitate face-to-face and virtual meetings, collect group ... more »

Ruth McDonald

Lincoln County School District, Newport, OR
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Lincoln County School District will partner with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Westwind Stewardship Group, and Willamette University to facilitate a two day science workshop for district educators. Participants will engage in field studies of unique biological ... more »

Jennifer Randolph

Denver Place Elementary, Wilmington, OH
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Through a partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo, Miami University, and Project Dragonfly, Mrs. Randolph will travel to Belize to take part in Earth Expeditions. Mrs. Randolph will participate in investigations to monitor manatee population dynamics, human influence on ... more »

Emily Bowman

Harry Russell Elementary, West Carrollton, OH
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Mrs. Bowman will participate in Earth Expeditions, a global conservation and education program that promotes inquiry based learning and experiences for students. Mrs. Bowman will learn in the field with other educators and conservationists from around the world. Upon ... more »

Andrea Dempsey Moore

Hall-Woodward Elementary, Winston Salem, NC
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

Ms. Dempsey Moore will participate in the “Maximizing Leadership Potential” workshop at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. Through the workshop, Ms. Dempsey Moore will prepare to become an effective teacher leader through ... more »

Jamie Maholchic

Norwich High School, Norwich, NY
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2012, Spring

Mrs. Maholchic will attend the AP Annual Conference, where she will present the seminar “Teaching Timed Writing: A Gradual Release Model.”  During the session, she will share strategies that she has developed in her classroom to improve student writing ... more »

Jessica Zschack

Randolph Middle School, Randolph, NJ
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Spring

Ms. Zschack and a colleague will travel to Thailand to volunteer at an orphanage that was created amid the destruction of the 2004 tsunami. Through this immersive cultural experience, Ms. Zschack will gain knowledge in the fields of special education, history, and ... more »

Kelly Wormann

Osage Elementary School, Voorhees, NJ
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Ms. Wormann will complete the initial “Level of Musicianship and Leadership” program through Music For People, in which she will seek to promote a humanistic approach to the way music is taught, performed, and appreciated. The program will allow Ms. Wormann ... more »

Filomena Vine

Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Spring

To prepare students for the competitive 21st century economy, Ms. Vine will attend the National Science Teachers Association STEM Forum and Expo, at which she will present a hands-on workshop about successful informal initiatives and community programs. The conference ... more »

Brad Ollmann

Saint Anthony Park Elementary, Saint Paul, MN
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Mr. Ollmann will embark on an immersive cultural and Spanish language study in Guatemala and Mexico. Through the University of Mexico, Mr. Ollmann will take part in an intensive study of the Spanish language as well as take elective courses in Mexican history, ... more »

Teresa Kelly

St. Paul Music Academy, Saint Paul, MN
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Ms. Kelly will collaborate with Arpita Chatterjee, a licensed music educator in India, for a musical exchange that will inform both educators of the technical and cultural methods used in various forms of music.  Ms. Kelly and Ms. Chatterjee will develop a pilot ... more »

Bonnie Bouche

South High School, Minneapolis, MN
Grades 9-12, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

To improve communications with students and parents from the growing Somali community in Minneapolis, Ms. Bouche and Ms. Koskela will study the Somali language. Through the language study, Ms. Bouche and Ms. Koskela will better bridge the current language gap ... more »

Sean Carmody

Holt Public Schools, Holt, MI
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2012, Spring

A team of mathematics educators will conduct lesson study to develop instructional practices across middle and high school grades that support students' engagement in a Mathematical Practice Standard from the Common Core State Standards. The cohort will collaborate to ... 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.