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

Faith Forshee

Crestview Heights School, Waldport, OR
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2013, Spring

To assist students in developing a lifelong sense of stewardship for the ocean and coastal communities, Mrs. Forshee and colleagues will lead a project stressing the connection between local and global coastal issues. The team will provide students 21st century learning ... more »

Emily Martine

Sitton Elementary School, Portland, OR
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Spring

Mrs. Martine and Mrs. Hefty will create a classroom resource library that will offer a diverse collection of assistive technological devices, switches, and accessible computer programs that will assist students with moderate to severe disabilities. Students will increase ... more »

Susan Anglada Bartley

Franklin High School, Portland, OR
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2013, Spring

Mrs. Bartley and Mr. Butenhoff will incorporate technology to expand Franklin High School’s Advanced Scholar Program (ASP).  Students participating in the program will mentor struggling younger students and tutor students who need additional help. Additionally, ... more »

Laura Eschler

Coquille School District, Coquille, OR
Grades 9-12, Special Education
2013, Spring

To meet college credit requirements and increase curriculum offerings for high school students, Mrs. Eschler and Mr. Cumberland will promote a district-wide plan of accelerated college credit proficiency. Coquille School District (CSD) will partner with Southwestern Oregon ... more »

Charles Steinbower

William K. Willis High School, Columbus, OH
Grades 9-12, Librarian
2013, Spring

Mr. Steinbower will lead a civil rights and social justice unit that will have students examining the impact of the civil rights movement on the southern United States and apartheid on past, present, and future South Africa. Student and educators will attend a panel ... more »

Erin Daniels

Mount Vernon City Schools, Mount Vernon, OH
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2013, Spring

Ms. Daniels’ students will use calculus, statistics, and physics concepts to determine the volume of a three dimensional object. Students will use integration techniques and linear regression modeling with statistical analysis to find a model that will determine the ... more »

Henry Encarnacion

The Frederick Douglass Academy, New York, NY
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2013, Spring

To assist students struggling to master Integrated Algebra Standards, Mr. Encarnacion and Mr. Rodriguez will introduce netbooks in their classrooms. Using multiple mathematics programs and applications, teachers will promote self-directed learning and encourage learners to ... more »

Nancy Kaplan

JHS 227 Edward B. Shallow School, Brooklyn, NY
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Spring

Through “Journey into Journalism,” Mrs. Kaplan and Mrs. Dinkins will assist students in creating a newspaper that will promote student expression and build writing and analytical reading skills through interdisciplinary collaboration. Students will cover all ... more »

Kathleen Doherty-Hewins

Macopin Middle School, West Milford, NJ
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2013, Spring

The “Flipping over Mathematics” project will use a blended learning approach to engage students by incorporating the digital world in classroom lessons.  Students will use tablets to strengthen math skills, deepen their understanding through richer ... more »

Clay Herron

Central Heights Elementary School, Billings, MT
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2013, Spring

To bolster Central Heights Elementary School’s web based Lead21 reading and math interventions, Mr. Herron and Mr. Mainwaring will introduce tablet technology in their classrooms. Students will have greater access to hands-on programs directly correlated with lessons. ... more »

Kevin Martin

Hazelwood East High School, Saint Louis, MO
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2013, Spring

To improve problem solving and group work in Algebra I classrooms, Mr. Martin and Ms. Knight will introduce tablet technology.  Student collaboration will increase through the sharing of student work, problem sets, and e-portfolios. Mr. Martin and Ms. Knight will ... more »

Jennifer Bleckiner

Vandenboom Early Childhood Development Center, Marquette, MI
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Spring

Early childhood special education students will increase literacy, language, math, and communication skills through the strategic use of tablet technology.  Conferences between educators, speech-language pathologists, instructional program aides, and individual ... more »

Renee Laber

Morgan Elementary School, Shelby Township, MI
Grades K-5, English
2013, Spring

Mrs. Laber and Dr. Christ will integrate tablet technology into literacy instruction to facilitate critical thinking in fourth grade students. Through the lesson, students will focus on making inferences, comparing and contrasting, making connections, and analyzing texts. ... more »

Ilya Brecque

Durant-Tuuri-Mott School, Flint, MI
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2013, Spring

Through “Stepping Stones to Reading and Writing Success,” students will work in small intervention groups towards grade level competency. The lowest performing students will receive strategies to enhance their fluency skills, learn to monitor and clarify their ... more »

Dwayne Dahlbeck

Braintree High School, Braintree, MA
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2013, Spring

The Braintree High School Dual Enrollment Program (DEP) will allow at-risk students to take online courses with the support of specially trained educators, during which they will earn simultaneous high school and college credit. The primary focus of the program is to ... more »

Grant Acuna

Rocky Hill Middle School, Clarksburg, MD
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2013, Spring

To address the unique learning needs of students with emotional disabilities, Mr. Acuna and Mrs. Keith will introduce tablet technology in their middle school classrooms. Student will analyze the text and delivery of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a ... more »

Alicia Stetler

Trewyn Day Treatment, Peoria, IL
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Spring

To improve students’ ability to express their needs and advocate for themselves, Ms. Stetler and Mrs. Maxwell will expose special needs students to various sensory therapies and equipment before and during classroom activities. Teachers and students will discover ... more »

Christine Voigt

J.D. Floyd K-8 School of Environmental, Spring Hill, FL
Grades 6-8, Physical Education / Health
2013, Spring

Ms. Voigt and Ms. Johnson will introduce the “Harvesting Health” project, which will infuse environmental science and health education through an interactive hands-on gardening project. Students will plant, care, harvest, and maintain a fruit tree grove and ... more »

Arlene Costello

Ensley Elementary School, Pensacola, FL
Grades K-5, English
2013, Spring

Mrs. Costello and Mrs. Wells will introduce “Language Acquisition through Arts, Science, and Technology” to improve the academic achievement of English Language Learners. The project will provide activities that promote service learning through youth gardening, ... more »

Jennifer Allison

Harmony High School, Saint Cloud, FL
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Spring

To demonstrate how people’s words and actions can have massive impacts on society, Ms. Allison will introduce a lesson examining the events and forces that led to the Holocaust. Students will participate in literature circles and will analyze artwork and primary ... more »

Ellen Harvey

Charlotte County Schools, Port Charlotte, FL
Grades 9-12, Arts
2013, Spring

Mrs. Harvey and Mrs. Morehouse will introduce students to the Common Core Reading Standards through arts and science integration. Activities will address standards for writing, speaking, and listening, as well as the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for art and ... more »

Addie Lewis

Ocean Air School, San Diego, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2013, Spring

Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Tech will implement a supplemental intervention project to maximize learning opportunities and incorporate best teaching methodologies for struggling readers. Working in small groups with teacher support, students will become more confident through ... more »

Cara Hale-Hanes

Polytechnic High School, Long Beach, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2013, Spring

Mrs. Hale-Hanes and Dr. Gundry will develop curriculum addressing the limited availability of potable water in many parts of the world. Students will engage in a series of investigations designed to encourage critical thinking about the challenges of making unsafe water ... more »

Chara Rodrigues

John Baldwin Elementary School, Danville, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2013, Spring

Mrs. Rodrigues and Mrs. Dunlap will create a leveled reading library to support students upon the implementation of the Common Core Reading Standards. Students will practice deep comprehension and close interpretive reading, write in a range of genres, and solve problems. ... more »

Leslie Schicht

Global Connections High School, Seatac, WA
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Winter

Jeff Halstead

Ferris High School, Spokane, WA
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Winter

Caroline Hay

Tualatin High School, Tualatin, OR
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Mary Jo Behrensmeyer

Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, OH
Grades K-5, Foreign Language Teacher
2013, Winter

Aaron Slodounik

Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY
Higher Education, Lecturer
2013, Winter

Jennifer Kibler

East Aurora School District, East Aurora, NY
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Melissa Stein

Theunis Dey Elementary School, Wayne, NJ
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Eboni Walker

Sargent Shriver Elementary, Silver Spring, MD
Grades K-5, Teacher
2013, Winter

Grand Pacheco

Bradbury Heights Elementary School, Capitol Heights, MD
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Jamie Purnell

Messalonskee High School, Oakland, ME
Grades 9-12, Science
2013, Winter

Jackie Kessler

Mount Washington Elementary School, Mount Washington, KY
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Anthony Svozil

Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor, IL
Grades K-5, Science
2013, Winter

Lillian Santiago

Fulford Elementary School, North Miami Beach, FL
Grades K-5, Math and Science
2013, Winter

Alison Awai

Curtner Elementary School, Milpitas, CA
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Barbara Gosney

Fireside Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ
Grades K-5, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
2013, Winter

Linsay DeMartino

Pueblo Magnet High School, Tucson, AZ
Grades 9-12, Exceptional Education
2013, Winter

Natalee Van Gelder

Rincon High School, Tucson, AZ
Grades 9-12, Exceptional Education
2013, Winter

Robyn Myrum

Joy Elementary, Fairbanks, AK
Grades K-5, Physical Education / Health
2013, Winter

Dr. DeShannon McDonald

Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, Montgomery, AL
Grades K-5, Law
2013, Winter

Erica Winkler

Eisenhower Elementary School, Green Bay, WI
Grades K-5, School Social Worker
2013, Winter

Shana Ferguson

Peter S. Ogden Elementary School, Vancouver, WA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2013, Winter

Shana Ferguson

Peter S. Ogden Elementary School, Vancouver, WA
Grades K-5, Librarian
2013, Winter

Shannon Wyant

Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School, Lake Stevens, WA
Grades K-5, Special Education
2013, Winter

Dr. Leslie Chekin

Annandale High School, Annandale, VA
Grades 9-12, English
2013, Winter

Dr. Evelyn Dwyer

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

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.