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

Georgina Navarrete

Maywood Elementary, Maywood, CA
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

To gain a greater understanding of early intervention strategies, Mrs. Navarrete will attend the seminar Powerful Early Intervention Strategies to Help Students Struggling with Reading and Writing through the Bureau of Education and Research.  Upon completion, Mrs. ... more »

JoEllen McAdams

University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Little Rock, AR
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Through the project PALS, Dr. McAdams and colleagues will expand on research about the use of live dogs in elementary reading programs.  Recent results indicate that with the PALS programs, literacy scores increased up to thirty five percent compared to children who ... more »

Michele Wailey

West High School, Anchorage, AK
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Ms. Wailey and a team of colleagues will learn TPR Storytelling, a language method which allows educators to reach out to struggling students.  Team members will conduct monthly meetings to discuss techniques and progress.  The educators will each conduct webinar ... more »

Michele Copeland

Potowmack Elementary School, Sterling, VA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Winter

Students at Potowmack will participate in a new math instructional program entitled Math Through Music.  As part of the program, students will sing and dance to the sounds of educator Dr. Jean, who has created motivating songs to teach young children math skills and ... more »

William Van Evera

HB Woodlawn School, Arlington, VA
Grades 6-8, Science
2011, Winter

Physics students at HB Woodlawn School will investigate the feasibility of generating electricity using wind turbines.  Students will first receive instruction on the physics of wind turbine design and then coach middle school students working in groups to build a ... more »

Anthea Lavergne

Boone Elementary School, Houston, TX
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

To foster a deeper appreciation of the language arts, Ms. Lavergne’s fourth grade special needs students will participate in an accelerated writing and publishing institute and produce books.  Students will use digital technology and publishing software to design ... more »

Clarence McFerren II

Trezevant High School, Memphis, TN
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2011, Winter

Mr. McFerren and Mr. Lee’s students will research issues relevant to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including geographic locations, historic landmarks, museums, and prominent attractions.  Students will study statistical data of past collegiate ... more »

Jenifer McMurray

Seneca Valley Intermediate High School, Harmony, PA
Grades 6-8, Science
2011, Winter

In an effort to reinforce the importance of outdoor learning, Mrs. McMurray will lead classroom sessions in local state parks.  By raising student awareness of the natural world and motivating students to become engaged in natural resource management practices, Mrs. ... more »

Jane Johnston

View Acres Elementary School, Milwaukie, OR
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Winter

View Acres Elementary School students will design and develop a large vegetable and native plant garden as part of a new staff-initiated science program that is based on state science standards, student inquiry, and project based learning.  Lessons focused on the ... more »

Cathy Spencer

Oakridge Junior High, Oakridge, OR
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2011, Winter

Mrs. Spencer and Mr. Goffin will challenge students to become independent learners capable of meeting their personal goals.  Through the use of iPads and available applications, students will identify life goals and research the math skills needed to accomplish these ... more »

Tabatha Stover

Hilliard City Schools, Columbus, OH
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Winter

Mrs. Stover and Mrs. Marsh’s students will learn how to solve open ended, differentiated mathematics problems.  Through inquiry exploration, students will engage in whole group, cooperative group, and independent learning opportunities.  Students will ... more »

Jill Poyle

North Ridgeville City Schools, North Ridgeville, OH
Grades 6-8, Social Studies
2011, Winter

The Job Skills Exposure Program will teach special education students the job skills they need in order to gain employment.  To help determine necessary skills, students will be taken to potential employers and exposed to various jobs.  Classroom instruction will ... more »

Pamela Carlson

Wilder Elementary School, Grand Forks, ND
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Winter

Wilder Elementary students will engage in technology rich experiences with opportunities for creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making using iPad tablets.  Partnerships with pre-service teachers at the University of North Dakota and ... more »

Leslie Parker

Fox Road Elementary School, Raleigh, NC
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Watson will implement guided reading as the primary method of literacy instruction at all grade levels at Fox Road Elementary School.  Educators will provide targeted instruction to students in small groups, allowing individual students to learn ... more »

Celeste Cafiso

PS 18 JG Whittier, Staten Island, NY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Mrs. Cafiso and Mrs. Mahoney will create a classroom library to encourage students to read.  Classroom lessons will focus on phonics based instruction aimed toward English language learners.  Students will ultimately create a series of bilingual books which will ... more »

Scott Becker

Cohen Middle School, Elmira Heights, NY
Grades 6-8, Arts
2011, Winter

The Making Music Modern Project will engage music students at Cohen Middle School to increase critical thinking skills and provide an outlet for creative expression.  The project will incorporate software with which students will compose, arrange, play, and record ... more »

William Roweton

Chadron State College, Chadron, NE
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Winter

Dr. Roweton will place remotely controlled video and audio digital equipment in local elementary and middle classrooms to train Chadron State College (CSC) Educational Psychology students in observation.  These students will practice coding what they experience ... more »

Shawna Veit

Armada High School, Armada, MI
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Winter

Through continued efforts to establish Armada High School as a green education leader in the state of Michigan, Mrs. Veit and Mr. Defever will lead a school wide renewable energy program.  The project will allow all students to take part in hands on opportunities to ... more »

Carolyn Breault

Rice Square School, Worcester, MA
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Fourth grade students struggling with reading comprehension will be responsible for compiling The Chilly Press, a student publication of current events and interviews.  Students will read about and report on current events, interview teachers on classroom activities, ... more »

Morgan Purdy

West Broadway Elementary School, Madisonville, KY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

Second grade students will work cooperatively to create a successful and informative school newspaper for West Broadway Elementary School.  The project will aid students in making real world connections between the outside world, the local community, and the ... more »

Sondra Groene

Schwegler Elementary School, Lawrence, KS
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Winter

Schwegler Elementary students will visit Kansas’s Tallgrass Prairie in order to understand the historic and cultural importance of the ecosystem.  The project will enable students to engage in community learning while discovering the relevance of local ... more »

Melissa Tunis

Winchester Village Elementary School, Indianapolis, IN
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

To address Winchester Village’s large number of English language learners who are refugees from Burma, Mrs. Tunis and Mrs. Dillon will guide students in utilizing iPad and Smartboard technology to become published authors.  Students will write their own ... more »

Jessica Schultz

Culdesac Joint School District #342, Culdesac, ID
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Winter

Ms. Schultz and Mrs. Spears’ seventh through twelfth grade classrooms will use engineering strategies to think critically and use problem solving skills to deepen their knowledge of science and social studies.  Students will conduct inquiry based investigations ... more »

Justin Brown

Kealakehe High School, Kailua-Kona, HI
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2011, Winter

Mr. Brown and Mr. Buongiorno will implement a yearlong collaborative project that will challenge students to apply what they learn about comparative politics and international relations through simulating United Nations’ sessions.  In addition to formal research ... more »

Teresa Staton-Soliman

Port Salerno Elementary School, Stuart, FL
Grades K-5, English
2011, Winter

In order to improve the performance of English language learners at Port Salerno Elementary School, Mrs. Staton-Soliman and Mrs. Smith will introduce interactive Kindle e-readers in their classrooms.  Ultimately, the project will increase student reading comprehension, ... more »

Michelle Pearson

Hulstrom Options School, Northglenn, CO
Grades 6-8, Social Studies
2011, Winter

Through Generation 2 Generation, Hulstrom Options’ students will help preserve and document local history through podcasting, video logging, and artifact curation.  Students will work with senior veterans to digitize more than 4,500 artifacts dating from the ... more »

Jonathan Bergmann

Woodland Park High School, Woodland Park, CO
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Winter

Through the Mastery Learning program, Woodland Park High School students will study chemistry by collaborating with one another, viewing lectures on video podcasts, and performing hands on inquiry experiments.  Mr. Bergmann and Mrs. Devaux will introduce the program in ... more »

Christine Steigelman

Environmental Academy of Research Technology and Earth Science, Newbury Park, CA
Grades 6-8, Science
2011, Winter

Students at EARTHS Magnet School will embark on real and virtual journeys to different biomes in California to conduct environmental research.  Students will study the water sources and watersheds in each biome and collect data, photos, and videos on water supply, ... more »

Kevin Crosby

Independence High School, Bakersfield, CA
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Winter

Through Project Robo-Class, Mr. Crosby will begin a robotics club in the Autism Department at Independence High School.  Through the use of Lego robotics kits and instructional software, students will develop experiential knowledge of robotic mechanics.

Christopher Junsay

Bancroft Middle School, San Leandro, CA
Grades 6-8, Science
2011, Winter

Mr. Junsay and Ms. Rosenkrantz will employ the Qwizdom student response system in seventh grade science classes during a unit on cell biology.  Each student will be provided with an electronic clicker so that he or she can respond to multiple choice and short response ... more »

Dona Helmer

College Gate Elementary School, Anchorage, AK
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Winter

Ms. Helmer and Ms. Dowling will collaborate to integrate science content with reading, reasoning, research, and writing skills.  The project will provide hands on experiences for first grade at risk students enabling them to develop content knowledge, literacy skills, ... more »

Kerry Townsend

Scottsboro High School, Scottsboro, AL
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Winter

Ms. Townsend and Mrs. Stills will implement “The Chemical Magic Show,” in which high school students will act as chemistry teachers in elementary school classrooms.  The project will allow students to display their scientific and creative skills in ... more »

Mary Enright

Vogel-Wetmore School, Torrington, CT
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

To strengthen her professional knowledge prior to the national board certification renewal process, Ms. Enright will attend the Connecticut Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages annual conference in November 2010. At the conference, Ms. Enright will learn the ... more »

Ana Behel

Weeden Elementary, Florence, AL
Grades K-5, English
2010, Fall

Ms. Behel and Mrs. Whitely-Weston will implement a professional learning community in which teacher leaders will mentor their colleagues in data based professional development that will drive changes in instruction and improve the achievement of English Language ... more »

Maria Hase

Tavan Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2010, Fall

Elementary school students at Tavan Elementary School will improve their work place skills by operating a “Treasures for Students” school store.   Students will collect and sell gently used items donated by parents, local businesses, and community ... more »

Lori Kim

California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

Drs. Kim and Allison will lead the "Scholars Linking Theory and Practice" project, a collegial study that will evaluate a new teaching strategy for a research course in the Educational Administration Program, which trains future administrative leaders for K-12 ... more »

Dawn Poole

California State University Stanislau, Turlock, CA
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

Twelve faculty members associated with CSU Stanislaus' new doctoral program in Educational Leadership will form a study group to advance skills and competencies associated with both qualitative and quantitative research practices.  The activity will contribute to ... more »

Kay Hones

Stevenson Schools, San Francisco, CA
Grades K-5, Arts
2010, Fall

Ms. Hones will lead colleagues in “Magic Touch,” a project that will verse participants in opera, mural art, and iPod Touch literacy.  Educators in the group will mentor and collaborate as they create lessons that combine critical thinking and technology ... more »

Elena Tinder

Orange Grove Elementary School, Anaheim, CA
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

Ms. Tinder and Ms. Padgett will collaborate to lead and develop a “Parents in Partnership Program.”  Once a month, kindergarten through sixth grade students and their parents will participate in classroom sessions to focus on specific skills.  Selected ... more »

Annette Garcia

Place Bridge Academy, Denver, CO
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2010, Fall

Ms. Garcia and Mr. Gordon will lead a learning community that will institute a comprehensive program of professional development for the school’s entire math staff.  The program will have three components: 1) whole group professional development activities ... more »

Maureen FitzPatrick

Huckleberry Hill Elementary School, Brookfield, CT
Grades K-5, English
2010, Fall

As participants in the “Book Club Review Crew,” third graders at Huckleberry Hill Elementary will develop higher level reading skills through the use of technology.  Student reviewers will read and assess self selected texts and use audio visual equipment ... more »

Elizabeth Fullerton

University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

Drs. Fullerton and Guardino will collaborate with teachers to reduce challenging behaviors in inclusive classrooms.  Working collaboratively with six teachers in urban school settings, the group will redesign classrooms using research based modifications.  ... more »

Rebecca Sweezea

Round Lake Elementary, Mount Dora, FL
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2010, Fall

In an effort to increase students’ understanding and appreciation of American history, Ms. Sweezea and Mrs. Matulia will develop “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” to guide student learning through a social studies curriculum.  Students will use a ... more »

Donna Kesterson

Corner Lake Middle School, Orlando, FL
Grades 6-8, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

To better serve their diverse student body, science, social studies, and electives faculty at Corner Lake Middle School will complete the Florida Inclusion Network (FIN)’s Curriculum of Differentiated Instruction.  By addressing the individual needs of students ... more »

Leigh Crosson

Colleen Bevis Elementary, Lithia, FL
Grades K-5, English
2010, Fall

Fourth and fifth grade science teachers at Colleen Bevis Elementary will participate in a seven week long collegial study group.  The focus of the study group will be reading, discussing, and developing literature based science lessons using the book Picture Perfect ... more »

Donica Cuspard

Redan Elementary, Lithonia, GA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2010, Fall

Ms. Cuspard and Mrs. Qualls will design and implement two projects to help students improve their skills in math and language arts.  “Paddles for Patterns” will focus on improving student skills in patterns, listing numbers in sequential order, providing ... more »

Lyssa Sahadevan

East Side Elementary School, Marietta, GA
Grades K-5, English
2010, Fall

Mrs. Sahadevan will attend the Reader’s Workshop presented by The Daily Café, a website devoted to educator professional development.  Throughout the workshop, Mrs. Sahadevan will read relevant professional literature, play a lead role in book study, ... more »

Suzanne Nozaki

Pahoa High and Intermediate School, Pahoa, HI
Grades 9-12, Science
2010, Fall

Through their “Just Say No to Soda and Alcohol” program, Mrs. Nozaki and Mrs. Borges will address students’ sugar and alcohol consumption habits.  Through surveys and taste testings, high school students will learn to compare nutritional data, and ... more »

Deanna Murphy

Beach Park School District, Zion, IL
Grades K-5, English
2010, Fall

To increase the proficiency of the core curriculum, a group of educators will attend in service training to develop higher level questioning strategies to use in their classrooms.  Teachers will implement these higher level thinking strategies using learning center ... more »

Kristin Trapp

Collinsville High School, Collinsville, IL
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2010, Fall

Mrs. Trapp will participate in continued training on trauma response that will provide her with the most recent, research based strategies and techniques offered by nationally recognized trauma experts.  This knowledge will be shared with colleagues in the Collinsville ... more »

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.