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

Jessica Zschack

Randolph Middle School, Randolph, NJ
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Spring

Ms. Zschack and a colleague will travel to Thailand to volunteer at an orphanage that was created amid the destruction of the 2004 tsunami. Through this immersive cultural experience, Ms. Zschack will gain knowledge in the fields of special education, history, and ... more »

Kelly Wormann

Osage Elementary School, Voorhees, NJ
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Ms. Wormann will complete the initial “Level of Musicianship and Leadership” program through Music For People, in which she will seek to promote a humanistic approach to the way music is taught, performed, and appreciated. The program will allow Ms. Wormann ... more »

Filomena Vine

Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Spring

To prepare students for the competitive 21st century economy, Ms. Vine will attend the National Science Teachers Association STEM Forum and Expo, at which she will present a hands-on workshop about successful informal initiatives and community programs. The conference ... more »

Brad Ollmann

Saint Anthony Park Elementary, Saint Paul, MN
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Mr. Ollmann will embark on an immersive cultural and Spanish language study in Guatemala and Mexico. Through the University of Mexico, Mr. Ollmann will take part in an intensive study of the Spanish language as well as take elective courses in Mexican history, ... more »

Teresa Kelly

St. Paul Music Academy, Saint Paul, MN
Grades K-5, Arts
2012, Spring

Ms. Kelly will collaborate with Arpita Chatterjee, a licensed music educator in India, for a musical exchange that will inform both educators of the technical and cultural methods used in various forms of music.  Ms. Kelly and Ms. Chatterjee will develop a pilot ... more »

Bonnie Bouche

South High School, Minneapolis, MN
Grades 9-12, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

To improve communications with students and parents from the growing Somali community in Minneapolis, Ms. Bouche and Ms. Koskela will study the Somali language. Through the language study, Ms. Bouche and Ms. Koskela will better bridge the current language gap ... more »

Sean Carmody

Holt Public Schools, Holt, MI
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2012, Spring

A team of mathematics educators will conduct lesson study to develop instructional practices across middle and high school grades that support students' engagement in a Mathematical Practice Standard from the Common Core State Standards. The cohort will collaborate to ... more »

Ella Bowling

Mason County Middle School, Maysville, KY
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

Mrs. Bowling will present two workshops at the National Science Teachers Association’s Regional Conference. In the first workshop, Mrs. Bowling will teach colleagues how to incorporate social networks in science classes; in the second workshop, she will discuss ... more »

Dayna Masih

Indiana School for the Blind, Indianapolis, IN
Grades 6-8, Special Education
2012, Spring

Mrs. Masih will travel to Finland to study a school for the visually impaired and discuss with educators instructional strategies for working with visually impaired students. During her travels Mrs. Masih will blog about her learning so her middle school world ... more »

Melissa McMullen

Montezuma Elementary School, Montezuma, IN
Grades K-5, History
2012, Spring

Ms. McMullen will travel to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to attend the annual Arthur and Rochelle Belfer National Conference for Educators. Museum educators and scholars will share rationales, strategies, and approaches for presenting the complex subject ... more »

Karen Brazell-Smith

Lake Weir High School, Ocala, FL
Grades 9-12, Special Education
2012, Spring

To aid students who have failed state reading tests, Mrs. Brazell-Smith will attend a dyslexia screening seminar. After completing the seminar, Mrs. Brazell-Smith will equip educators at Lake Weir High School with effective strategies to identify dyslexic students, ... more »

Kara Hennessey

Hall Memorial School, Willington, CT
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

Ms. Hennessey will attend the Columbia University Teacher’s College writing institute to gain a stronger understanding of research based strategies that will improve writing curriculums and strengthen students’ writing abilities. Ms. Hennessey will use ... more »

Catalina Martinez

Hillcrest Elementary School, San Francisco, CA
Grades K-5, English
2012, Spring

To deepen her understanding of assessment based literacy instruction that supports emerging readers who are English language learners, Ms. Martinez will attend the Reading Institute hosted by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Upon ... more »

Carolyn Halpern

Sierra Madre School - Elementary Campus, Sierra Madre, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

Ms. Halpern will attend the Summer Literacy Institute at Lesley University to create reading and writing workshops, focusing on improving student achievement in both reading comprehension and writing nonfiction text. After the institute, Ms. Halpern and colleagues will ... more »

Emily Dodson

Ponderosa Elementary School, Sunnyvale, CA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

Ms. Dodson will lead a professional learning community at Ponderosa Elementary School in implementing the “Reader’s Workshop.” Colleagues will collaboratively develop an implementation plan for an improved school wide language arts program. Support ... more »

Kathleen Ho

Packard Children's Hospital School, Palo Alto, CA
Grades 9-12, Literature
2012, Spring

To provide hospitalized students with engaging and imaginative curriculums, Ms. Ho will attend the Oxbridge Academic Teacher's Seminar on Literature and the Fantastic. The seminar will focus on classic fantasy novels and the influence of Oxford on their authors.  ... more »

Wanda Hutchinson

Athens State University, Athens, AL
Higher Education, Education Support Professional
2012, Spring

To help novice teachers become more effective classroom practitioners, Athens State University will partner with surrounding school districts to implement the “Tying Excellence with Accountability Mentorship” program. The program will provide recent graduates ... more »

Lori Kluetzman

Hawthorne Elementary School, Madison, WA
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2012, Spring

Ms. Kluetzman and Ms. Funk will integrate iPod Touches in their classrooms to support and enhance student vocabulary development and reading comprehension. Students will use the tablets to participate in white board activities, listen to stories and songs in support ... more »

Kelsey Rhinehart

Adams-Friendship Area Schools, Friendship, WI
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2012, Spring

Students will increase literacy skills through the strategic use of technology and digital media to produce a school wide news program. The program will present students with life and career skills including self direction, flexibility, adaptability, productivity, ... more »

Janet Woodward

Garfield High School, Seattle, WA
Grades 9-12, History
2012, Spring

To understand the importance of Seattle’s International District in the displacement of Japanese Americans during World War II, Mrs. Woodward and Mr. Lovre will lead a school wide common book project. Garfield High School students and faculty will read the novel ... more »

Christy Nemeth

Troy School, North Troy, VT
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Mrs. Nemeth and Mrs. Boutin will introduce a “grow lab” in their kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. Students will study and monitor the evolution of various plants by planting, cultivating, and harvesting multiple species. Throughout the project, ... more »

Kristene Newcomb

W. Charles Akins High School, Austin, TX
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2012, Spring

Using tablets equipped with reading, writing, and behavior documentation applications, W. Charles Akins High School Social Behavioral Skills (SSBS) students will improve their reading and writing achievement, behavioral choices, and social skills in academic settings. ... more »

Rebecca Farrow

Siegel High School, Murfreesboro, TN
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Spring

Siegel High School agriculture students will gain experience in water conservation techniques by designing and planting a riparian buffer along a local creek. Students will assess the need for reducing runoff and increasing infiltration for a limestone dominated ... more »

Christine Boring

Northgate Middle/Senior High School, Pittsburgh, PA
Grades K-5, Science
2012, Spring

Organic chemistry students at Northgate High School will enhance laboratory learning through the incorporation of iPads in the lab setting. Tablet simulations will portray volatile chemical reactions and molecular interactivity and allow students to visualize molecules ... more »

Matthew McKenry

Chambersburg Area High School, Chambersburg, PA
Grades 9-12, Science
2012, Spring

Mr. McKenry will implement an “Adopt-a-Stream” classroom project in order to improve student achievement in genetic and ecology lessons and foster a conservation ethic in students. Students will take care of and monitor a local stream in order to determine ... more »

Sherm Koons

Washington County Career Center, Marietta, OH
Grades 9-12, English
2012, Spring

To assist students in fully developing the cultural literacy necessary to excel in AP English, Mr. Koons will introduce Kindle Fires in the classroom. The tablets will provide students with dictionary search functions that will enable them to annotate unfamiliar ... more »

Trudy Giasi

Hilltonia Middle School, Columbus, OH
Grades 6-8, Science
2012, Spring

Hilltonia Middle School educators and students will participate in the “Indoor Gardens” project as the initial step in creating a foundation for improving student literacy and achievement. The educators will integrate learning through the use of hydroponic ... more »

Charles Steinbower

William K. Willis High School, Columbus, OH
Grades 9-12, Literature
2012, Spring

Mr. Steinbower will attend the National Council for Teachers of English Assembly on Literature for Adolescents Conference to learn methods in which to incorporate popular young adult literature into classroom lessons. Upon completing the conference, Mr. Steinbower and ... more »

Audrey Gottlieb

Edward J. Milliken Technical Center, Oakdale, NY
Grades 9-12, Physical Education
2012, Spring

To learn about the benefits of community service and personal health, Ms. Gottlieb and Mr. Audiino will lead a group of students in becoming certified personal fitness trainers. Participating students will visit other schools and design lessons to teach fellow students ... more »

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 »

Join us on February 10, 2017!

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!