Awards Gala

Known as the Academy Awards of public education, 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.

Grantees

Sue Spencer

Washington Community Schools, Washington, IA
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Spring

To increase the reading proficiency of underperforming and special education students, Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Kinsinger will expand the “System 44 Reading” program. Through the program, students will be exposed to small group instruction, independent reading ... more »

Beth Robinson

Odessa Elementary School, New Port Richey, FL
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Spring

Mrs. Robinson and her colleagues will introduce learning activities that pair students with autism with basic education students. The project will serve to enhance academic learning and communication and social skills for both groups. Students will gain a ... more »

Sarah Johnson

Fresno County Office of Education, Fresno, CA
Higher Education, Special Education
2012, Spring

Special education teachers will use iPads to increase student learning and collaboration among educators. Through a hands-on approach to community based learning, educators will present practical lessons on social and communication skills. Students will additionally ... more »

Cecilia Arellano

Stagg Street Elementary School, Van Nuys, CA
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Through the “Science is Real Life” project, Ms. Arellano and her colleagues will bring grade level standards to life by introducing students to the Los Angeles Conservation Corp’s Sea Lab. Students will see the water cycle in action through direct ... more »

Laura Feldt

Frank West Elementary School, Bakersfield, CA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2012, Spring

Mrs. Feldt, Mrs. Cannon, and a team of colleagues will strengthen math lessons by teaching the “Han-5 System of Mathematics,” a program with differing strategies for visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners to master basic math concepts. Students will learn ... more »

Lauri Tayman

Liberty Elementary School, Santa Maria, CA
Grades K-5, English
2012, Spring

Second grade teachers at Liberty Elementary School will expose students to interactive hands-on visual projects to improve student understanding of the school’s comprehensive language arts program. Educators will create and provide interactive vocabulary ... more »

Georgia Berry

Bartlett High School, Anchorage, AK
Grades 9-12, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

To improve student reading and writing proficiency, educators at Bartlett High School and its feeder elementary and middle schools will implement the “Step Up to Writing” program as a school wide initiative. The cohesive writing program will provide students ... more »

Tammy Loper

Denton Middle School, Mobile, AL
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

To spark student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, Mrs. Loper and Ms. Williams will introduce “Pathway to STEM,” a hands-on technology project.  The project will combine local and state standards from all core content areas to ... more »

Jennifer Nelson

Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon, WI
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Through Bringing Everyone Together with Technology, Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Johnson will emphasize language acquisition and increased cultural awareness in their students. Educators will infuse 21st century skills throughout the curriculum by incorporating relevance and ... more »

Christine Prahl

Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School, Alexandria, VA
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2012, Winter

To reduce student risk factors and promote student achievement, Mrs. Prahl and Ms. Haygood will implement a parent involvement project to train parents in specific reading and math strategies. Parents will participate in learning workshops taught by primary level ... more »

Lisa Carpenter

Burrillville High School, Harrisville, RI
Grades 9-12, English
2012, Winter

Mrs. Carpenter and Mr. Siner will implement the Salon approach to teaching English language learners, in which educators will teach critical theory to students to guide student discussion about text. Educators will teach in a way that utilizes an informal approach to ... more »

David Daugherty

Forest City Regional Elementary School, Forest City, PA
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To address the need for student improvement in science, language arts, and mathematics, a team of educators at Forest City Regional Elementary School will enhance their students’ 21st century learning environment by incorporating tablets into every classroom. This ... more »

Jeannine Macrory

Cheyenne Middle School, Edmond, OK
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Macrory and Mrs. Wolf will create the Cheyenne Outdoor Exploratorium. This learning station will provide an environment where students will conduct experiments and complete research and field studies. The station will be composed of gardens, a greenhouse, alluvial ... more »

Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl

AC Reynolds High School, Asheville, NC
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2012, Winter

Mr. Kurtz-Nicholl and Mrs. Yurkovich will lead the implementation of iClickers in social studies classrooms at AC Reynolds High School. Educators will build learning communities that focus on common assessments, essential questions, and ways to compare classes. ... more »

Sarah Fish

Brentwood Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Ms. Fish and Mrs. Mahone will promote 21st century data collection and learning in early childhood classrooms at Brentwood Elementary. The team will utilize electronic portfolios and real time photographic and video recordings of student learning to promote both data ... more »

Michael Rozalski

Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Higher Education, Literature
2012, Winter

Dr. Rozalski and Mr. Miller will work with a team of educators to collect, review, and teach literature that will develop students’ social skills. The team will develop, present, and evaluate bibliotherapy lessons in an alternative education setting. The team will ... more »

Amanda Zullo

Saranac Lake High School, Saranac Lake, NY
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Chemistry, earth science, and biology teachers at Saranac Lake High School will facilitate classroom learning by using collaborative teaching techniques. Students, teachers, and teaching assistants will form a learning atmosphere to promote the gain of content knowledge ... more »

Paula Conrad

Wahoo Public Schools, Wahoo, NE
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Mrs. Conrad will implement a leveled literacy intervention, which is a research-based, systematic reading program that will enhance Wahoo Public Schools' Title 1 program to accelerate reading proficiency. The intervention, which will be introduced in the elementary ... more »

Faye Johnson

Rogers Middle School, Rogers, MN
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Winter

Ms. Johnson and Mr. Radermacher will assist special needs students in becoming involved in their Individualized Education Plans. Students in the program will learn to identify and describe their personal disabilities through self evaluation and be able to identify their ... more »

Sara Heideman

Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN
Grades 9-12, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

To promote global thinking and strengthen students’ reading and writing skills, Mrs. Heideman and Ms. Middendorf will instruct their students to read narrative, nonfiction text based on young adults from a variety of geographic areas. Students will build and ... more »

Hannah Pontius

Posen Consolidated Schools, Posen, MI
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To encourage students to meet Michigan Merit Curriculum standards in visual, performing, and applied arts, Ms. Pontius and Mr. Budnick will outfit a lab for industrial arts students at Posen Consolidated Schools. The educators will assist students in choosing personal ... more »

Brian Gilman

Berkshire Trail Elementary School, Cummington, MA
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Winter

Students will enhance their understanding of math and social science concepts by designing and fabricating ceramic tile quilts. The quilt murals will illustrate local social, cultural, and natural history, and will also link local events to social and cultural histories ... more »

Kelly Corbett

Broadmeadow Elementary, Needham, MA
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Winter

Ms. Corbett and Mrs. Rizzuto will lead an inquiry-based learning unit designed to encourage the development of students’ critical thinking skills and science content knowledge. Students will use these materials in conjunction with science notebooks to construct ... more »

Cindy Norell

Greencastle Elementary School, Silver Spring, MD
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Winter

Creating Original Opera (COO) participants from two schools will work collaboratively throughout the school year to create, produce, and perform original dramatic operatic works. Using Skype cameras, web based portfolios, Promethean Board technology, artist visits, and ... more »

Lee Pernice

Derby Middle School, Derby, KS
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2012, Winter

Through iLove Math Again, Mrs. Pernice and Mrs. Habermehl will introduce math centers in their classrooms that incorporate technology through the use of iPads. Educators will focus on students’ levels of engagement and interest to improve student achievement. ... more »

Margaret Mauntel

Dubois Middle School, Dubois, IN
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Mauntel and Mrs. Terwiske will teach their students to use algebraic equations to program robots. Students will learn basic programming language via calculations on TI calculators and will use that language to have their robots perform a variety of tasks. As ... more »

Kym Flowers

Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis, IN
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Ms. Flowers will lead a collaborative project between three high school teachers and the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute (INDI) at Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis. The proposed nanotechnology experience will include lectures, ... more »

Diane Abraham

Kualapuu School PCS, Kualapuu, HI
Grades K-5, History
2012, Winter

Students at Kualapuu School will learn about exploring for survival, discovery, and adventure through a lesson on the history of the ancient Polynesian voyaging that brought the first humans to the Hawaiian Islands. Students will document the process of building scale ... more »

Elaine Barreira

Hiram High School, Hiram, GA
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To encourage student learning through the use of technology, Ms. Barreira and Ms. Gasque will introduce e-readers to their classrooms. The devices will be used at all learning levels, with particular focus on reluctant readers. The lead educators will study the impact ... more »

Teresa Arrouet

Johnson Middle School, Melbourne, FL
Grades 6-8, Gifted and Talented
2012, Winter

Through the STAR program, educators will meet the needs of accelerated and gifted students. STAR will offer students assistance with developing higher level thinking skills, accelerated pacing in math and foreign languages, and the exploration and understanding of ... more »

Jane Duggan

Adams 14 School District, Commerce City, CO
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Winter

Special education teachers in the Adams 14 school district will utilize a research-based math program to address math achievement gaps for at-risk elementary students with identified disabilities. They will be trained in coaching to utilize the core K-5 program and ... more »

Cynthia Lake

John Muir High School, Pasadena, CA
Grades 9-12, Sociology
2012, Winter

Through Imagine Mars, Mrs. Lake and Mr. Bond will implement a design-based learning project to encourage students to actively participate in problem solving through the backward thinking design process. The project will integrate standards-based lessons in multiple ... more »

Marilyn Farrens

Salida Elementary School, Salida, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Turning the Key to Literacy will increase reading and writing proficiency by integrating technology into the classroom. Ms. Farrens and a team of colleagues will use response clickers to monitor and evaluate student responses to multiple choice questions. To increase ... more »

Jaimie Graham

Ontario High School, Ontario, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Montoya will introduce new lab learning opportunities to chemistry students at Ontario High School. Through rigorous laboratory activities, students will increase their understanding of core concepts through hands-on instruction. Students will be ... more »

Melynda Wescott

Mountain View School, Waddell, AR
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Winter

Ms. Wescott and Ms. Goodwin will introduce Project Math-I-Khan, a three-component, math intervention. The program will incorporate mathematical differentiated learning to increase student skills and understanding. Students will create math videos to be disseminated ... more »

Debbie Halstead

Garfield Elementary School, Spokane, WA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Mrs. Halstead will attend Columbia University's Teacher College Summer Writing Institute to learn best strategies for implementation, including crucial structures and routines that allow teachers to meet the differentiated needs of all student writers. Mrs. Halstead ... more »

Aubrey Ludwig

Langley High School, McLean, VA
Grades 9-12, English
2012, Winter

Educators from Virginia and Illinois will collaborate to explore the educational uses of the Tumblr microblogging platform. Ms. Ludwig and Ms. Richardson will use the platform to create overviews, reviews, and document based questions. Additionally, educators will ... more »

Andrew Jones

Mount Abraham Union High School, Bristol, VT
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

To effectively meet the needs of learners with diverse abilities and backgrounds, Mr. Jones will attend the Universal Design for Learning: Reaching All Learners institute at Harvard University. The program will prepare Mr. Jones to implement Universal Design for ... more »

Kathey Hoover

Wylie High School, Wylie, TX
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Ms. Hoover will travel to Belize to explore terrestrial, coastal, and coral reef communities. While there, she will join researchers to learn about conservation programs involving species including harpy eagles, jaguars, manatees, and howler monkeys. Additionally, Ms. ... more »

Joni Acuff

University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2012, Winter

Dr. Acuff will work with educators at a middle school in Columbus, Ohio in a participatory action research project. The cohorts will assess and revise their school curriculum based on reflections from the 2011-2012 academic year. Data obtained from the research will ... more »

Susanne Rasely-Philipps

East Stroudsburg Area High School South, East Stroudsburg, PA
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2012, Winter

To improve the quality of education for ESL and Hispanic heritage students, Ms. Rasely-Philipps and her colleagues will develop an academic group at school that will foster personal and cultural connections as well as academic and career choices. The group will study ... more »

Elizabeth Tardif

Englewood Elementary, Salem, OR
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Through Techie Teachers, Mrs. Tardif will undergo Smart Notebook Certification Training. The training will provide Mrs. Tardif with the skills necessary to fully utilize her school’s technology equipment as educational tools. Upon completing the training, Mrs. ... more »

Constantine Farmakidis

Southeast Local School District, Ravenna, OH
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To improve technological proficiency among educators within the Southeast Local School District, Mr. Farmakidis will share with colleagues a series of teaching models which focus on integrating technological applications into teacher pedagogies. Throughout the course of ... more »

Denver Fowler

Licking Heights Central Middle School, Pataskala, OH
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Mr. Fowler will attend the New and Aspiring School Leaders program at Harvard University. Through the program, Mr. Fowler will gain new tools, frameworks, leadership techniques, instructional practice techniques, and ideas to more effectively build and sustain learning ... more »

Mary Lyons

Morris Grove Elementary School, Chapel Hill, NC
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Ms. Lyons will attend the Reading and Writing Project at the Columbia University Teachers College. Through the program, Ms. Lyons will deepen her understanding of the implementation of effective reading workshops and the integration of the Common Core Curriculum. The ... more »

Jesse Applegate

M.S. 447, Brooklyn, NY
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2012, Winter

Mr. Applegate will read, "The Complete Learning Disabilities Handbook: Ready-to-Use Strategies and Activities for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities," and attend the Learning Disabilities Association of America's annual conference in Chicago. Using the ... more »

Bryce Cahn

Tompkins Square Middle School, New York, NY
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Winter

Mr. Cahn will take part in a year-long learning experience through the Mindful Education Institute. Through the study, Mr. Cahn will create student centered social and emotional learning curriculum and staff development strategies grounded in research-based ... more »

Kelly Swanson

Pinewood Elementary, Mounds View, MN
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2012, Winter

Ms. Swanson will embark on a six-week stay in Guatemala through Casa Xelaju’s Spanish Immersion Program. Through the program, Ms. Swanson will further her knowledge of Latin American culture and languages via experiences in schools, site visits, and a home stay ... more »

Katherine Hedrick

Greenville Middle School, Greenville, MI
Grades 6-8, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

To provide quality writing instruction for students at Greenville Middle School, Ms. Hedrick will attend a one-week internship at the Center for Teaching and Learning during which she will observe, discuss, and reflect on the teaching practices used by educators ... more »

 

Register today at regonline.com/2015NEAFgala!

Did you miss the live webcast on the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 7, 2014?

 

Now, you can watch the entire program and catch all of the best moments-- from host and Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad to student performers from Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools and the 36 educators from across the country who were celebrated on stage.  

 

 

 

The 2014 NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, featuring host Phylicia Rashad

More than 800 national leaders in education, philanthropy, and business gathered at the National Building Museum in the nation’s capital on February 7, 2014 to celebrate excellence in public education.


Phylicia Rashad, the Tony Award-winning actress best known as Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” hosted the event and helped celebrate the work of exceptional public school educators alongside student performers from Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools.


In addition to the 36 educators honored with the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence, the following top honors were presented.

 

California educator Kimberley Gilles receives the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence

Kimberley Gilles, an English teacher at Monte Vista School in Danville, CA and member of the California Teachers 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.

 

Gilles and four other educators also received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence. These five educators were finalists for the evening's top award.

 

(Left to right: Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of The NEA Foundation; Gary Phoebus, President & CEO of NEA Member Benefits; Kimberley Gilles, NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient; Mark Chichester, Chair of The NEA Foundation Board of Directors)

 

“He was my son who happened to be gay,” his father states. His mother is grateful that “he was surrounded by friends—the sun, the wind, and the smell of sage brush” as he died, badly beaten and tied to a fence. In between these statements and others made by local residents interviewed by the playwrights, a Tibetan singing bowl mournfully chimes.

With this choral reading of The Laramie Project, students in Kimberley Gilles’ class learn what happened to Matthew Shepard on the day he was murdered. Afterwards, she invites them to share their thoughts and the comments are honest and profound. One student simply asks, “Why?” Gilles shares her passion for social justice and inclusion with her students with this lesson that intentionally provokes and, she hopes, invokes in them a love of reading and writing. She tells them that the purpose of writing is to communicate their inner truths and encourages each student to find his or her unique voice.

Gilles has taught high school since 2003 and was previously a humanities and leadership teacher at the middle school level. In June of 2014, Rethinking Schools will publish her work, “Bringing LGBT Issues Out of the Curricular Closet: Teaching The Laramie Project.” She was awarded a B.A. cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles and a M.Ed. in Instruction and Curriculum, Specialization: Integration of the Arts in 2012 from Lesley University.

As an active member of the Hayward Education Association, she played an integral part in leading a strike and then afterwards helped mend the fences and bind the wounds that had been created. Gilles currently serves as a union representative at her school in the San Ramon Valley Education Association and is a regular advocate for educators at school board meetings and community events. She is a State Representative to the California Teachers Association and currently serves on the Civil Rights in Education Committee. She received the CTA Members Human Rights Award in 2012.

Five educators receive the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence

Five extraordinary educators from across the country received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence. Their students have already benefitted from the award. Each class received digital arts training from Pearson Foundation to produce a video, which premiered at the gala, to honor their award-winning teachers. Watch the videos below.

 

(Left to right: Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation, Christopher Stone (CT), Kathleen Sims (MN), Kimberley Gilles (CA), Marita Zuraitis, President & CEO of Horace Mann Educators Corporation, Eileen Sheehy (MT), Brian Sites (WA), Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President)

 

 

Student-made videos honoring their teachers premiere at the 2014 Gala

Timothy Shriver accepts the Security Benefit Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education on behalf of Special Olympics

The NEA Foundation presented the 2014 award to Special Olympics. Dr. Timothy Shriver, chairman of the orgazination, accepted the award on its behalf. Watch Dr. Shriver's speech.

 

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.

 

 Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

 

This gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students of Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools take the stage for cultural performances

 

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gala began with an original piece titled, "This is what my teachers said," by Blessed Sheriff, an eleventh-grade student at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD, and an award-winning poet. Watch her performance above.

 

In the evening's finale, host Phylicia Rashad joined Sheriff on stage. Watch Sheriff perform her original poem titled, “On the definition of hope," with the help of Rashad above.

 

Nearly 80 students from Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools took us on a virtual world tour through the performing arts— from salsa dancing and madrigal singing to African drumming.

 

Thank you to all who helped celebrate the best in public education. Save the date for next year’s gala on February 13, 2015.

 

 

Original poems written and performed by Blessed Sheriff:

 

Be bold. This classroom will be a womb 
And it will deliver courage
And it will deliver voices
And it will deliver your courage
And it will deliver your voices

Strive. These books are a pedestal
They will lift you beyond your potential
And you will know things worth knowing
And see things worth seeing
They will teach you how to spell words like believe,

(Remember the “i” comes before the “e” except after “c”)
So that you will one day believe in a higher cause beyond yourself.

Listen, to me. This classroom will be the silence you need,
A worthy citadel for your thoughts
So let them roam free
And when you find one worth catching
Bring it back to me.
I want to see.

DO NOT BE AFRAID.

This is something they cannot steal.
The mind, like a thunderstorm
Stands dignified as the only God-sent instrument amidst humanity
And we
Each of us
With our own minds…
Our own eternal infinity.
Ideas don’t die, people do.

Understand that courage, kindness, wisdom, and love transcend time and when we go
What we made of them will still be here.
Make something of them
And this is how:

(This is what my teachers said to me:)
DO NOT BE AFRAID
One day you will rise and I may be a distant memory
But for now
Take your seat.
Breathe.
Breathe.
Class is in session.

Hope.
One syllable.
Four letters:
H.
O.
P.
E.
Noun. A feeling of expectation and desire. Derived from Old English hopa or hopian meaning to wish, expect, to look forward to. A word of German origin, connected as well to the Dutch language.
Hope.
A word with so many sounds, so many souls, it doesn’t get by on just one syllable.
It’s the words of a man, a King, with a dream. It’s attached to the faces of the one’s who are screaming
For freedom.
Four letters? More like six – and it’s spelled like
this:
V.
I.
S.
I.
O.
N.

And do you see now what I mean?
Where there is no vision the people perish-
we are a species defined by our progress-
from the moment we climbed up off our knees and onto our feet…
and we’ve been doing it ever since.
Off our knees and onto our feet.

Hope. A noun in action,
And whether we are shuffling, mumbling, or running at breakneck speed it makes
sure that we are moving.

Hope. Derived from the one who makes all things new -
a spirit that lives on the inside,
like a wish waiting to come true. It’s true,
we are made of stardust. So the next
time you see a shooting star turn around and look inside you:
You’re on fire.
Know that the only things that burn are the things that last forever.
Know that fire ignites, and we’re called to leave this world in ashes more
beautiful than the icebergs before.

Hope. A word which has its origins in the smile of a newborn child, and in the spark of
a newborn mind which has the power to change a generation.

And if there’s one thing important enough to remember about what hope is,
It’s that H.O.P.E stands for one thing W.E: and that is WE.
We are hope.