Awards Gala

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America’s public schools and of the unique bonds that educators and students share.

Grantees

Cathleen Morreale

University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY
Higher Education, Social Studies
2012, Spring

Dr. Morreale will present “Community Resources,” a multidisciplinary service learning course that will engage students in their living and learning communities. Through critical reflection, students will be provided with international, national, and local ... more »

Miyo Tubridy

The Renaissance Charter School, Jackson Heights, NY
Grades K-5, English
2012, Spring

Ms. Tubridy will introduce “Poets for Change,” a personal inquiry and poetry project that will use poetry and research as a vehicle from promoting change in students’ lives. Senior ELA students will study the form and craft of poetry and learn ... more »

Ariana Butler

PS 327 Dr. Rose B. English School, Brooklyn, NY
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

Ms. Butler will implement a digitized interactive curriculum to deliver personalized lesson plans and homework assignments to students. The system will manage all elements of teaching, learning, and assessment while allowing Ms. Butler to remain at the center of ... more »

Jacqueline Clary

Lebanon High School, Lebanon, NH
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

“Community Wellness through Digital Art” will expand Lebanon High School’s art offerings to include the use of digital tools. Ms. Clary and her colleagues will expand students’ technology resources and provide a diverse group of student artists a ... more »

Jessica Cole

Magnolia Middle School, Meridian, MS
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2012, Spring

Through the “Pass Path to Math Achievement” project, students will meet the demands of Magnolia Middle School’s 21st century technology goals. Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Webb will appeal to students’ enthusiasm for technology to improve their math ... more »

Katie Thompson

Watertown Mayer Middle School, Watertown, MN
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

Mrs. Thompson will introduce iPads into her language arts classes to help better meet students’ needs as they improve their speaking, listening, viewing, and media literacy skills. Students will engage in differentiated learning projects and work in collaborative ... more »

Nicole Estes

Maple Elementary School, West Bloomfield, MI
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

Mrs. Estes and Mrs. Miller will use iPads to improve ESL and Title I student achievement in reading and writing. Conferences between educators and individual students will be used to record student writing samples both digitally and observationally. Educators will use ... more »

Kate Fanelli

Beacon Day Treatment, River Rouge, MI
Grades 9-12, Special Education
2012, Spring

To increase student understanding of math and science, Ms. Fanelli and Mr. Wachtel will work with students to collect data in laboratory experiments, analyze the data, describe mathematical phenomena, and design experiments to explore self directed, open ... more »

Elizabeth Joki

JFK Middle School, Hudson, MA
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

JFK Middle School students will participate in the conservation of the Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species in eastern Massachusetts. In collaboration with wildlife biologists, students will raise and care for hatchlings which will be released upon maturation ... more »

Valerija Ziglejeva

Pocomoke Middle School, Pocomoke City, MD
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

To address varying readiness levels and interests, educators at Pocomoke Middle School will introduce iPads in classrooms to provide instructional methods that draw on students’ interests. Educators will use instant feedback to prepare for lessons and modify ... more »

Jennie Lewis

Russell Area Technology Center, Russell, KY
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

To encourage students to become technology leaders, educators at Russell Area Technology Center will implement the “SMART Classroom Suite.” Through the use of SMART boards, students will work collaboratively on educational games and discussion questions. ... more »

Megan Marie Dennis

South Ripley Elementary School, Versailles, IN
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

Mrs. Dennis and Mrs. Gilpin will introduce a project based learning experience through which students will determine the best alternative energy source to use on school property. Students will research different “green” energy methods, draft informative ... more »

Sharman Galezewski

Jane Addams Elementary School, Palatine, IL
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2012, Spring

To foster student creativity, Mrs. Galezewski will encourage elementary students to participate in the creative process through musical composition. Students will first observe educators composing music and then will write collaborative compositions through the use of ... more »

Michelle Liberio

Thornwood High School, South Holland, IL
Grades 9-12, Special Education
2012, Spring

Mrs. Liberio and Mrs. Hoekstra will introduce touch screen technology to encourage increased academic participation and communication by special needs students diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s, nonverbal learning disorders, and learning difficulties. Students will ... more »

Sue Spencer

Washington Community Schools, Washington, IA
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Spring

To increase the reading proficiency of underperforming and special education students, Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Kinsinger will expand the “System 44 Reading” program. Through the program, students will be exposed to small group instruction, independent reading ... more »

Beth Robinson

Odessa Elementary School, New Port Richey, FL
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Spring

Mrs. Robinson and her colleagues will introduce learning activities that pair students with autism with basic education students. The project will serve to enhance academic learning and communication and social skills for both groups. Students will gain a ... more »

Sarah Johnson

Fresno County Office of Education, Fresno, CA
Higher Education, Special Education
2012, Spring

Special education teachers will use iPads to increase student learning and collaboration among educators. Through a hands-on approach to community based learning, educators will present practical lessons on social and communication skills. Students will additionally ... more »

Cecilia Arellano

Stagg Street Elementary School, Van Nuys, CA
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Through the “Science is Real Life” project, Ms. Arellano and her colleagues will bring grade level standards to life by introducing students to the Los Angeles Conservation Corp’s Sea Lab. Students will see the water cycle in action through direct ... more »

Laura Feldt

Frank West Elementary School, Bakersfield, CA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2012, Spring

Mrs. Feldt, Mrs. Cannon, and a team of colleagues will strengthen math lessons by teaching the “Han-5 System of Mathematics,” a program with differing strategies for visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners to master basic math concepts. Students will learn ... more »

Lauri Tayman

Liberty Elementary School, Santa Maria, CA
Grades K-5, English
2012, Spring

Second grade teachers at Liberty Elementary School will expose students to interactive hands-on visual projects to improve student understanding of the school’s comprehensive language arts program. Educators will create and provide interactive vocabulary ... more »

Georgia Berry

Bartlett High School, Anchorage, AK
Grades 9-12, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

To improve student reading and writing proficiency, educators at Bartlett High School and its feeder elementary and middle schools will implement the “Step Up to Writing” program as a school wide initiative. The cohesive writing program will provide students ... more »

Tammy Loper

Denton Middle School, Mobile, AL
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

To spark student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, Mrs. Loper and Ms. Williams will introduce “Pathway to STEM,” a hands-on technology project.  The project will combine local and state standards from all core content areas to ... more »

Jennifer Nelson

Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon, WI
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Through Bringing Everyone Together with Technology, Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Johnson will emphasize language acquisition and increased cultural awareness in their students. Educators will infuse 21st century skills throughout the curriculum by incorporating relevance and ... more »

Christine Prahl

Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School, Alexandria, VA
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2012, Winter

To reduce student risk factors and promote student achievement, Mrs. Prahl and Ms. Haygood will implement a parent involvement project to train parents in specific reading and math strategies. Parents will participate in learning workshops taught by primary level ... more »

Lisa Carpenter

Burrillville High School, Harrisville, RI
Grades 9-12, English
2012, Winter

Mrs. Carpenter and Mr. Siner will implement the Salon approach to teaching English language learners, in which educators will teach critical theory to students to guide student discussion about text. Educators will teach in a way that utilizes an informal approach to ... more »

David Daugherty

Forest City Regional Elementary School, Forest City, PA
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To address the need for student improvement in science, language arts, and mathematics, a team of educators at Forest City Regional Elementary School will enhance their students’ 21st century learning environment by incorporating tablets into every classroom. This ... more »

Jeannine Macrory

Cheyenne Middle School, Edmond, OK
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Macrory and Mrs. Wolf will create the Cheyenne Outdoor Exploratorium. This learning station will provide an environment where students will conduct experiments and complete research and field studies. The station will be composed of gardens, a greenhouse, alluvial ... more »

Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl

AC Reynolds High School, Asheville, NC
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2012, Winter

Mr. Kurtz-Nicholl and Mrs. Yurkovich will lead the implementation of iClickers in social studies classrooms at AC Reynolds High School. Educators will build learning communities that focus on common assessments, essential questions, and ways to compare classes. ... more »

Sarah Fish

Brentwood Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

Ms. Fish and Mrs. Mahone will promote 21st century data collection and learning in early childhood classrooms at Brentwood Elementary. The team will utilize electronic portfolios and real time photographic and video recordings of student learning to promote both data ... more »

Michael Rozalski

Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Higher Education, Literature
2012, Winter

Dr. Rozalski and Mr. Miller will work with a team of educators to collect, review, and teach literature that will develop students’ social skills. The team will develop, present, and evaluate bibliotherapy lessons in an alternative education setting. The team will ... more »

Amanda Zullo

Saranac Lake High School, Saranac Lake, NY
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Chemistry, earth science, and biology teachers at Saranac Lake High School will facilitate classroom learning by using collaborative teaching techniques. Students, teachers, and teaching assistants will form a learning atmosphere to promote the gain of content knowledge ... more »

Paula Conrad

Wahoo Public Schools, Wahoo, NE
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Mrs. Conrad will implement a leveled literacy intervention, which is a research-based, systematic reading program that will enhance Wahoo Public Schools' Title 1 program to accelerate reading proficiency. The intervention, which will be introduced in the elementary ... more »

Faye Johnson

Rogers Middle School, Rogers, MN
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Winter

Ms. Johnson and Mr. Radermacher will assist special needs students in becoming involved in their Individualized Education Plans. Students in the program will learn to identify and describe their personal disabilities through self evaluation and be able to identify their ... more »

Sara Heideman

Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN
Grades 9-12, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

To promote global thinking and strengthen students’ reading and writing skills, Mrs. Heideman and Ms. Middendorf will instruct their students to read narrative, nonfiction text based on young adults from a variety of geographic areas. Students will build and ... more »

Hannah Pontius

Posen Consolidated Schools, Posen, MI
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To encourage students to meet Michigan Merit Curriculum standards in visual, performing, and applied arts, Ms. Pontius and Mr. Budnick will outfit a lab for industrial arts students at Posen Consolidated Schools. The educators will assist students in choosing personal ... more »

Brian Gilman

Berkshire Trail Elementary School, Cummington, MA
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Winter

Students will enhance their understanding of math and social science concepts by designing and fabricating ceramic tile quilts. The quilt murals will illustrate local social, cultural, and natural history, and will also link local events to social and cultural histories ... more »

Kelly Corbett

Broadmeadow Elementary, Needham, MA
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Winter

Ms. Corbett and Mrs. Rizzuto will lead an inquiry-based learning unit designed to encourage the development of students’ critical thinking skills and science content knowledge. Students will use these materials in conjunction with science notebooks to construct ... more »

Cindy Norell

Greencastle Elementary School, Silver Spring, MD
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Winter

Creating Original Opera (COO) participants from two schools will work collaboratively throughout the school year to create, produce, and perform original dramatic operatic works. Using Skype cameras, web based portfolios, Promethean Board technology, artist visits, and ... more »

Lee Pernice

Derby Middle School, Derby, KS
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2012, Winter

Through iLove Math Again, Mrs. Pernice and Mrs. Habermehl will introduce math centers in their classrooms that incorporate technology through the use of iPads. Educators will focus on students’ levels of engagement and interest to improve student achievement. ... more »

Margaret Mauntel

Dubois Middle School, Dubois, IN
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Mauntel and Mrs. Terwiske will teach their students to use algebraic equations to program robots. Students will learn basic programming language via calculations on TI calculators and will use that language to have their robots perform a variety of tasks. As ... more »

Kym Flowers

Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis, IN
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Ms. Flowers will lead a collaborative project between three high school teachers and the Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute (INDI) at Indiana University--Purdue University Indianapolis. The proposed nanotechnology experience will include lectures, ... more »

Diane Abraham

Kualapuu School PCS, Kualapuu, HI
Grades K-5, History
2012, Winter

Students at Kualapuu School will learn about exploring for survival, discovery, and adventure through a lesson on the history of the ancient Polynesian voyaging that brought the first humans to the Hawaiian Islands. Students will document the process of building scale ... more »

Elaine Barreira

Hiram High School, Hiram, GA
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2012, Winter

To encourage student learning through the use of technology, Ms. Barreira and Ms. Gasque will introduce e-readers to their classrooms. The devices will be used at all learning levels, with particular focus on reluctant readers. The lead educators will study the impact ... more »

Teresa Arrouet

Johnson Middle School, Melbourne, FL
Grades 6-8, Gifted and Talented
2012, Winter

Through the STAR program, educators will meet the needs of accelerated and gifted students. STAR will offer students assistance with developing higher level thinking skills, accelerated pacing in math and foreign languages, and the exploration and understanding of ... more »

Jane Duggan

Adams 14 School District, Commerce City, CO
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Winter

Special education teachers in the Adams 14 school district will utilize a research-based math program to address math achievement gaps for at-risk elementary students with identified disabilities. They will be trained in coaching to utilize the core K-5 program and ... more »

Cynthia Lake

John Muir High School, Pasadena, CA
Grades 9-12, Sociology
2012, Winter

Through Imagine Mars, Mrs. Lake and Mr. Bond will implement a design-based learning project to encourage students to actively participate in problem solving through the backward thinking design process. The project will integrate standards-based lessons in multiple ... more »

Marilyn Farrens

Salida Elementary School, Salida, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Winter

Turning the Key to Literacy will increase reading and writing proficiency by integrating technology into the classroom. Ms. Farrens and a team of colleagues will use response clickers to monitor and evaluate student responses to multiple choice questions. To increase ... more »

Jaimie Graham

Ontario High School, Ontario, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Winter

Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Montoya will introduce new lab learning opportunities to chemistry students at Ontario High School. Through rigorous laboratory activities, students will increase their understanding of core concepts through hands-on instruction. Students will be ... more »

Melynda Wescott

Mountain View School, Waddell, AR
Grades K-5, Special Education
2012, Winter

Ms. Wescott and Ms. Goodwin will introduce Project Math-I-Khan, a three-component, math intervention. The program will incorporate mathematical differentiated learning to increase student skills and understanding. Students will create math videos to be disseminated ... more »

Educators from across the country traded their classrooms for a night on stage, where they were honored by more than 850 national education leaders and supporters in Washington, D.C.

 

Did you attend? Now, you can purchase photos from the evening.

 

 

Celebrating 42 educators from across the country

It is our pleasure to distinguish these extraordinary educators with the 2016 California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence. These prestigious awards recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. All deserve our recognition and sincere thanks, but we had to choose one for our highest honor.

 

And the award goes to...

Photo: Esai Morales, award-winning actor and gala host; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Debra McDonald; Gary Phoebus, President and CEO of NEA Member Benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening’s finale, Debra McDonald, an early childhood education instructor at Wayne County Schools Career Center in Smithville, Ohio, took home the top honor: the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000! 

 

Watch Debra McDonald’s acceptance speech below.

 

 

Five educators receive top awards

Photo: Dirk Andrews, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (WY); Pam Wells, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (SD); Debra McDonald, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (OH); Crystal Brown, The NEA Foundation Board Chair; Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President; Heather LaBarbara, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (KY); Mohsen Ghaffari, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence recipient (UT)

 

 

 

 

Of the 42 educators honored that night, five also accepted the 2016 Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and $10,000, as finalists for the evening’s top honor. Their students could not be more proud of them!

 

Watch all five videos, which premiered during the gala, that students created using iPads to honor their award-winning educators.

 

Harriet Sanford shares story of hearing from former student—40 years later

Watch Harriet Sanford, the NEA Foundation's President and CEO, share a heartfelt story about a blast from her past — a text message she received from a student she taught 40 years ago — below.

 

 

Hispanic Scholarship Fund honored

Photo: Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Esai Morales, award-winning actor and gala host; Crystal Brown, NEA Foundation Board Chair; Fidel A. Vargas, President and CEO of  the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; Stephen Eulie, Executive Vice President of Consumer Banking, First National Bank of Omaha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NEA Foundation also presented the Hispanic Scholarship Fund with the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, paying tribute to their distribution of more than $470 million dollars in scholarships Latino college-bound students since 1975.

 

This award recognizes individuals and organizations for their lifelong commitment to advancing public education and is typically presented to those who work outside the field. Awardees have included former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Workshop.

 

Watch Fidel A. Vargas, President and CEO, accept the award of the behalf of Hispanic Scholarship Fund below.

 

 

With host, actor and activist Esai Morales

Photo: Esai Morales, award-winning actor and self-described "actorvist," reads tweets from the audience live on stage: "@MarkMautone: @Esai_Morales you rocked it! Thank you for supporting educators."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, Esai Morales, an accomplished actor who appeared in the biopic “La Bamba,” the HBO Series, “The Brink,” and the television series “NYPD Blue” and “Criminal Minds,” served as charismatic emcee and host. Morales cofounded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, following in the activist footsteps of his mother, who was an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

 

That night, he led guests and those watching the live stream from home or at viewing parties in cheering on the night’s biggest stars.

 

Special guests take the stage

Photo: Students from the Young People's Chorus of New York City, which now has 1,400 students from New York, ages 7 to 18, participate annually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With students at the center of public education, a group of English Language Learner students, who participated in a NEA Foundation-funded, high school theater program in Annandale, Virginia, also took center stage to perform Shakespeare. The Young People's Chorus of New York City wowed audiences with renditions from "The Sound of Music," and audiences also enjoyed the music and dance of Furia Flamenca and Torcuato Zamora, an accomplished flamenco guitarist from Spain.

 

Watch the Young People's Chorus of New York City perform the evening's finale below.

 

 

A special thank you to all who helped us celebrate the best in public education! Save the date for next year’s gala on February 10, 2017.

Watch the event!

Did you miss the live stream of the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 13, 2015? Now, you can watch the event in its entirety right here!

 

As one of the most prestigious awards events in public education, the NEA Foundation’s gala attracts more than 800 national education leaders and supporters to honor these educators each year in Washington, D.C. 

 

Did you attend the gala? View and purchase photos from the event.

 

Celebrating 39 educators from across the country

This year, 39 educators selected by their peers received the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence. In addition to these awards, the following top honors were presented.

 

Who won the evening’s top honor?

Terri Butts, a curriculum effectiveness specialist for the Richland 2 Child Development Center in Columbia, SC, and a member of the South Carolina Education Association, received the evening's top honor: The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence and $25,000. This award recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.

 

Butts and four other educators also received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence. These five educators were finalists for the evening's top award.

 

Watch Terri Butts' acceptance speech below. 

 

 

 

Photo (left to right): Gary Phoebus, President and CEO of NEA Member Benefits; Terri Butts; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation

 

 

 

Five educators receive top awards

These five extraordinary educators from across the country received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, and found themselves finalists for the evening’s top award. And their students have already benefitted. Each class received digital arts training from Scena Media to produce a video, which premiered at the gala, to honor their award-winning teachers.

 

Photo (left to right): John Stocks, NEA Executive Director; Crystal Brown; Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Awardee Allison Riddle (UT); Awardee Anna Baldwin (MT); Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of the Horace Mann Educators Corporation; Awardee Crystal Williams Gordon (LA); Awardee Terri Butts (SC); Awardee Richard Erickson (WI)

 

Watch all of the student-made videos below. 

 

Beloved children’s book author, the late Walter Dean Myers, and author and illustrator son, Christopher Myers honored

The NEA Foundation also presented award-winning children’s author, Walter Dean Myers, posthumously, and his son, award-winning illustrator and author, Christopher Myers, with the First National Bank of Omaha Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education, honoring their lifelong contributions to children’s literature. 

 

The father-son duo collaborated on stories for and about children of color who don’t see themselves reflected in children’s literature. According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, only 93 of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013 were about black people. In an op-ed for the New York Times in March 2014, Walter Dean Myers wrote, “What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”

 

Their collaborative works include “Jazz,” a winner of the Coretta Scott King award for illustration, “Harlem,” a Caldecott Honor book, “Blues Journey,” and “We are American: a tribute from the heart,” to name a few.

 

This award recognizes individuals and organizations for their lifelong commitment to advancing public education and is typically presented to those who work outside the field. Awardees have included former President Bill Clinton, Title IX advocate Billie Jean King, and Sesame Workshop.

In honor of Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Myers, and their wonderful family, First Book dedicated a gift of 5,000 brand new books to children in need across the country. First Book is a social enterprise that currently serves more than 155,000 programs and classrooms serving children in need ages 0-18 years of age. First Book hopes that everyone serving children in need will join their network and continue to grow the Myers' family legacy of high quality, diverse content for all children.

 

Watch Christopher Myers' acceptance speech.  

 

 Photo (left to right): Donna Meacham Blackman, Member of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Crystal Brown, Chair of the NEA Foundation Board of Directors; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Honoree Christopher Myers, award-winning illustrator and author; Lily Eskelsen García, NEA President; Stephen Eulie, Executive Vice President Consumer Banking of First National Bank of Omaha

 

 

Hosted by actress and activist Anne-Marie Johnson

Anne-Marie Johnson, who most recently appeared in the TNT series, "Murder in the First," and is best known for her role as Althea Tibbs on the hit television series, "In the Heat of the Night," and as a cast member of the sketch comedy series, "In Living Color," hosted the event.  

 

Johnson helped celebrate exceptional public school educators alongside more than 50 student performers— many of whom are past NEA Foundation gala stars, invited back for an encore.

 

Photo (left to right): Awardee Allison Riddle (UT); Awardee Anna Baldwin (MT); Marita Zuraitis, President and CEO of the Horace Mann Educator Corporation; Anne-Marie Johnson, actress and activist; Awardee Crystal Williams Gordon (LA); Awardee Terri Butts (SC); Awardee Richard Erickson (WI)

 

Students take the stage for return performances

From Montgomery County, Maryland, the Sogo African Rhythm Ensemble of 35 drummers and dancers from Forest Knolls Elementary, who performed at last year’s gala, took the stage under the direction of educator, Lou Persic.

 

Also returning this year was Blessed Sheriff, a young poet, who performed two original poems with last year’s gala host, Tony Award-winning actress, Phylicia Rashad, of “The Cosby Show” fame. Sheriff performed her tribute to the Walter Dean Myers alongside Joseph Morag, a violinist and first chair and concertmaster of the New York Youth Symphony. A second tribute to Myers came from young writers from Lee County, Florida, who performed an interpretation of Walter Dean Myers’ acclaimed book, “The Story of the Three Kingdoms.”

 

Memorable performances also include Brooklyn-based singer and Princeton musicology doctoral student, Cory Hunter, who is lead soloist of the Boys Choir of Harlem, as well as the Counterpoints, directed by Michael Raunik, from Indianapolis, Indiana, who have been ranked the nation’s top concert show choir.

 

Watch Blessed Sheriff and Joseph Morag's performance below.

 





Photo (left to right): Cory Hunter, student performer; Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation; Blessed Sheriff, student performer

 


A special thank you to all who helped us celebrate the best in public education! Save the date for next year’s gala on Feb. 12, 2016.