Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Five Educators to Receive National Education Award

Top Educators to be Recognized by the NEA Foundation at its Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in February

WASHINGTON, DC (October 5, 2011 )Five educators will receive The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, $10,000, and recognition as one of the nation’s top educators at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held on Feb. 10, 2012 in Washington, D.C. They are:

  • Lisa Esquibel, a Kindergarten teacher at Davis Elementary School in Cheyenne, WY, holds a Masters degree, ESL Endorsement, and Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project Certification;
  • Jonathan Gillentine, a Pre-K teacher at  Rev. Benjamin Parker School Kaneohe, HI is National Board Certified and holds a PhD;
  • Cara Haney, a Kindergarten teacher at Panther Lake Elementary in Kent, WA, is a National Board Certified and holds a Masters degree;
  • Danielle Kovach, a Special Education teacher at Tulsa Trail Elementary School, in Hopatcong, NJ, holds two Masters degrees: in Special Education and in Educational Technology; and
  • Jeff Peneston, a ninth grade Earth Sciences teacher at Liverpool High School in Liverpool, NY, and the 2011 New York State Teacher of the Year.

Known as the Academy of Awards of public education, the Gala features award presentations to 35 educators, who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, including the five Horace Mann awardees, announced today, and one of whom will receive public education’s prestigious honor, The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, which comes with an additional $25,000. The awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.

“These educators have been selected for this award by their peers because they have attained the highest standards of the profession, as shown by their exemplary instruction, advocacy for public education, a commitment to diversity, and engagement of parents and community,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Honoring these educators is our way of thanking them for their excellent work.”

“We exist as a company to support those who take care of our children’s future, and the teachers we’re honoring with this award are the best of the best,” said Horace Mann President and CEO Pete Heckman.  “We salute them for their commitment and thank them for making a difference every day.  Our collective future is brighter because of them.” The educators were nominated for the award by their states' National Education Association affiliate.

In addition to the recognition, students and educators at the awardees’ school will receive digital arts training from the Pearson Foundation. Video profiles of the awardees will be produced during the trainings and presented at the Gala in February, to an audience of 850 national leaders from the public education, philanthropic, and business sectors. 

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, the Pearson Foundation, and California Casualty.

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About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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