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Exceptional Educators Honored for Service to Their Communities and the Teaching Profession

Exceptional Educators Honored for Service to Their Communities and the Teaching Profession

Washington, D.C. (November 2, 2022) — The NEA Foundation announced today that five public school educators will receive one of public education’s highest honors, the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. The award, sponsored by the Horace Mann Educators Foundation, recognizes educators for their exceptional skill in the classroom, attention to equity and diversity, engagement of families and communities, commitment to ongoing professional development, and advocacy for the profession. The 2023 awardees are:

  • Stephanie Ballard, a math educator at George S. Mickelson Middle School, nominated by the South Dakota Education Association.
  • Kevin Gallagher, a math and computer science educator at Keystone Oaks High School, nominated by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
  • Natalie Johnson-Berry, dean of students and a restorative justice facilitator at Wyandotte High School, nominated by the Kansas National Education Association.
  • Theresa Maughan, a social studies educator at East Orange STEM Academy, nominated by the New Jersey Education Association.
  • Lee Perez, an English as a second language (ESL) educator at Alice Buffet Magnet Middle School, nominated by the Nebraska State Education Association.

“These talented educators have connected powerfully with students, supporting them in the moment and empowering them for the future,” said Sara A. Sneed, president and CEO of The NEA Foundation. “Their educational expertise, commitment to serving students’ diverse needs, and ability to uplift their colleagues are fundamental to creating robust and inclusive learning environments for all. We thank them for their commitment to their students and the teaching profession, which is fundamental to a democratic society. We thank Horace Mann Educators Foundation for its support in recognizing outstanding educators in such an uplifting way.”

“Educators are the driving force to engage and inspire students,” said Marita Zuraitis, president of the Horace Mann Educators Foundation board of directors and president and CEO of Horace Mann Educators Corporation. “The Horace Mann Educators Foundation believes educators should be recognized for their commitment to helping every child reach their full potential, and the Foundation is proud to recognize the exceptional contributions and achievements of the recipients of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.”

For more than 20 years, The NEA Foundation and Horace Mann have celebrated outstanding educators from around the country with this recognition. Each 2023 honoree will be featured in a mini-documentary video that will premiere at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala and will receive a $10,000 award.

The NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education and the Awards for Teaching Excellence are presented with support from NEA Member Benefits, Horace Mann Educators Foundation, California Casualty, Bank of America, American Fidelity, and First National Bank of Omaha. Educator awardees will be celebrated at the Gala on May 5, 2023. To learn more about the 2023 awardees, visit our website at


Editor’s Note: Please use our correct name, the NEA Foundation. The “NEA” is never spelled out in our name. It is not the National Education Association Foundation. Many thanks!

About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a national philanthropic organization that invests in educators’ leadership, shared learning and collaboration; supports partnerships and initiatives that strengthen public education; and promotes improvements in public education policy and practice. Find us at, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About Horace Mann Educators Foundation
Horace Mann Educators Foundation is an independent charitable organization formed by Horace Mann Educators Corporation in 2020 primarily to recognize the dedication of educators to helping each student reach their full potential. The Foundation draws on Horace Mann’s 75-year history of serving educators. For more information, visit the Foundation webpage.