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Five Educators Recognized with National Award for Commitment to Excellence

Five Educators Recognized with National Award for Commitment to Excellence

WASHINGTON, DC (October 26, 2020) – The NEA Foundation announced today that five educators will receive one of public education’s highest honors, the the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. The award recognizes educators for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, community, and their profession. The 2021 awardees are:

• Amy Gallaway, a high school social studies educator at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, nominated by NEA – Alaska.

• Casey Keyser, a third grade educator at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School in Frederick, Maryland, nominated by the Maryland State Education Association.

• Leila Kubesch, English as a second language and Spanish educator at Norwood Middle School in Norwood, Ohio, nominated by the Ohio Education Association.

• Sara Medalen, an elementary reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot, North Dakota, nominated by North Dakota United.

• Takeru Nagayoshi, a high school English educator at New Bedford High School in New Bedford, Massachusetts, nominated by the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

“These educators represent the best in public education through their passion for making a difference,” said Sara A. Sneed, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Their schools and stories may be unique, but their dedication to educational excellence fulfills a shared commitment to keep the promise of public education. In ordinary times and amid the challenging circumstances we face today, educators are an enduring force for serving the whole child and building vibrant communities.”

“Today’s educators are facing challenges they never could have envisioned,” said Marita Zuraitis, president and CEO of Horace Mann, a financial services company that has served educators for 75 years. “We value the investment all educators make to teach their students especially during these difficult times. They are the heart of their communities and we are proud to recognize the exceptional contributions and achievements of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence recipients.”

Celebrating more than 20 years of honoring educators with this award in partnership with Horace Mann, the Foundation recognizes top educators from around the nation with this recognition and $10,000 awards. Each honoree will be featured in a mini-documentary video that will premiere at the gala.

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the Awards for Teaching Excellence, which are sponsored by NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, and California Casualty. Educators will be celebrated at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Awards Gala on February 12, 2021, which will be presented virtually and viewed by leaders in public education, philanthropic, and business sectors. Students, colleagues, peers, and family members of awardees host viewing parties to watch live streaming video of the program at home as awardees from across the nation are recognized.

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 nonprofit organization that works to promote the absolute best in public education. The Foundation 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 at, Facebook and Twitter.

About Horace Mann
Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE: HMN) is the largest financial services company focused on providing America’s educators and school employees with insurance and retirement solutions. Founded by Educators for Educators® in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. For more information, visit