Horace Mann Awardees

From the dozens of educators that NEA affiliates select, an expert panel chooses five to receive the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Horace Mann Awardees receive $10,000, and special recognition at the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. The panel selects one of these finalists to receive the NEA Member Benefits award and $25,000 at the gala.

Congratulations to our 2019 Awardees!

We are proud to recognize these five educators for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, community, and profession. The awardees are:

Matthew Bacon-Brenes, a dual language immersion mentor teacher in Portland Public Schools in Portland, OR, nominated by the Oregon Education Association.

Leah Juelke, a 9th to 12th grade language arts educator for English learner (EL) students at Fargo South High School in Fargo, ND, nominated by North Dakota United.

Dan Ryder, a 9th to 12th grade language arts educator at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, ME, nominated by the Maine Education Association.

Cynthia Tong, an 8th grade social studies educator at Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach, HI, nominated by the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Cicely Woodard, an 8th grade mathematics educator at Freedom Middle School in Franklin, TN, nominated by the Tennessee Education Association.

  • “The most critical component of education is the teacher. Students thrive when teachers are empowered with thoughtful and consistent training.”

    Matthew Bacon-Brenes

    Dual language immersion mentor teacher, Portland Public Schools, Portland, OR
  • “To be an excellent educator, the most important thing is to create relationships with students that foster communication and cultural understanding.”

    Leah Juelke

    9th to 12th grade language arts educator for English learner students, Fargo South High School, Fargo, ND
  • “Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in the world. You see the best in humanity and the future..."”

    Dan Ryder

    9th to 12th grade language arts educator, Mt. Blue High School, Farmington, ME
  • “A great educator teaches everyone, every day, in small ways.”

    Cynthia Tong

    8th grade social studies educator, Ewa Makai Middle School, Ewa Beach, HI
  • “The impact that we make on the lives of students and that they make on us is powerful, life-changing, and enduring.”

    Cicely Woodard

    8th grade mathematics educator, Freedom Middle School, Franklin, TN

2018 Awardees

Revathi Balakrishnan

Texas State Teachers Association
3rd to 5th Grade Educator, Patsy Sommer Elementary School in Austin, TX

Revathi Balakrishnan: Developing Curiosity
Educator Revathi Balakrishnan's Story

Bobbie Cavnar 

North Carolina Association of Educators
12th Grade Language Arts Educator, South Point High School in Belmont, NC

Bobbie Cavnar: 75% Pure Theatre
Educator Bobbie Cavnar's Story

Afreen Gootee 

Virginia Education Association
6th to 8th Grade Math and Social Studies Educator, Georgetown School in Mechanicsville, VA

Afreen Gootee: Making a Difference
Educator Afreen Gootee's Story

Crystal May 

Kansas National Education Association
4th Grade Educator, Pray-Woodman Elementary School in Maize, KS

Crystal May: The Kid Whisperer
Educator Crystal May's Story

Tia Mills

Louisiana Association of Educators
Exceptional Student Services Educator, Eden Park Academy of Ethics and Excellence in Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Tia Mills: The Last Line of Defense
Educator Tia Mills' Story

Nominate an Educator

The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence present an annual opportunity for NEA state leaders to collectively and publicly recognize and reward exemplary educators for their outstanding instruction and advocacy to advance the profession. Each NEA direct affiliate may nominate an educator to receive an Award for Teaching Excellence between September and May. Visit our Nominate an Educator page for more information and to submit a nomination.

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