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Kansas Educator Receives Top Award for Commitment to Restorative Justice and Partnership-Building

Kansas Educator Receives Top Award for Commitment to Restorative Justice and Partnership-Building


Washington, DC – May 6, 2023 -The NEA Foundation awarded one of public education’s highest honors to Natalie Johnson-Berry, a dean of students and restorative justice facilitator at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kansas. The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, which comes with $25,000, was presented to Natalie Johnson-Berry by NEA Member Benefits President and CEO Leona Lindner at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, held this year at the Anthem Theater.

“Natalie understands the impact of a supportive learning environment on students’ ability to succeed,” said Sara A. Sneed, president and CEO of The NEA Foundation. “Her leadership and commitment to restorative justice and community-building has inspired her peers and students and fostered engagement and partnerships within the school community. The NEA Foundation is honored to recognize her achievements with this special award.”

An educator of nearly 25 years, Johnson-Berry has worked to facilitate relationships and collaboration throughout her school community addressing a range of issues. Whether instructing her students about empathy or coaching her peers on restorative teaching practices, Johnson-Berry has brought an equity focus and spirit of affirmation to her classroom and broader community. She also serves as a member of the Raytown Quality Schools Board of Education.

Nominated by the Kansas National Education Association, Johnson-Berry was one of 45 public school educators selected by their state education associations to be honored with the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence. Of these 45, five top educators, including Johnson-Berry, were selected to receive the prestigious Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000.

Along with Johnson-Berry, other Horace Mann Award recipients and finalists for the NEA Member Benefits Awards, included:

  • 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.
  • 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.

During the 2023 Salute to Excellence in Education, the Foundation also recognized three organizations for their positive impact on public education: Urban Arts (FNBO Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education), Race Forward (The NEA Foundation Equity Partner Award), and Student Voice (The NEA Foundation Student Voices for Education Award).

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 and Twitter.