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

Kary Towne

Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, South Burlington, VT
Grades 6-8, Education Support Professional
2011, Fall

Mrs. Towne will develop a hands-on, face-to-face training program that will enable school nurses to prepare for mandatory online training properly. The program will be a training opportunity that will enable other nurses to correctly use their screening equipment, network ... more »

Sarah Ibson

Harwood Union/Middle/High School, Moreton, VT
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2011, Fall

Mrs. Ibson and six colleagues at Harwood Union Middle/High School will form a study group to explore interactive instructional strategies using iPads to improve engagement and academic performance. After an initial training, the group will research educational apps with a ... more »

Cynthia Robinson-Carney

John Marshall High School, Richmond, VA
Higher Education, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Fall

Mrs. Robinson-Carney will strengthen her professional practice and improve her teaching performance by obtaining national board certification. Through a series self assessments? including videotaping classroom sessions, documenting quality instruction and planning, and ... more »

Doris Herrmann

Clear Falls High School, League City, TX
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2011, Fall

To increase her knowledge of integrating student owned technology in the classroom, Ms. Herrmann will attend and present at the Texas Computer Education Association Convention. She will discuss ways to encourage students to use their personal technology as learning tools in ... more »

Cheryl Simmons

East Greenwich Public Schools, East Greenwich, RI
Grades K-5, Education Support Professional
2011, Fall

Ms. Simmons and Ms. Macleod will lead an effort to implement assistive technology tools to enhance new student integration and learning.  The team will work to improve their skills in developing creative and engaging ways to foster inclusion and learning for all ... more »

Deborah Getman

PS 207, Brooklyn, NY
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Fall

Dr. Getman will lead of team of third and sixth grade educators through a collaborative professional learning community that will enable participants to perfect their instructional strategies. Specifically, groups of educators will attend sessions at Columbia ... more »

Daisy Rooks

University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Higher Education, Mathematics
2011, Fall

Dr. Rooks will examine individuals who have taken “alternative” pathways into the teaching profession.  Specifically, she will analyze sixty in-depth, semi-structured interviews with participants, staff, and critics of Teach for America, the largest ... more »

Amy Huset

Forest View Elementary School, Forest Lake, MN
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2011, Fall

Mrs. Huset and Mrs. Kuschke will implement an action research project in which students will learn to “read pictures,” discuss authors’ purposes, and analyze the word choices used in texts. Painting techniques will also be taught, as students will create ... more »

Lisa Hilberg

Alpena Public Schools, Alpena, MI
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Fall

Teachers and education support professionals in Alpena Public Schools and surrounding school districts will be trained in the curricular framework presented in Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice. Staff will be trained in the Danielson rubric and ... more »

Eboni Walker

Sargent Shriver Elementary School, Silver Spring, MD
Grades K-5, English
2011, Fall

Ms. Walker and Mrs. Moy will lead an action research study of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) as a tool to improve the teaching and learning of English language learners at Sargent Shriver Elementary School. The group looks to improve the performance ... more »

Prisca Martens

Towson University, Towson, MD
Higher Education, Literature
2011, Fall

Dr. Martens and her colleagues will investigates how global literature— stories with settings outside the US— supports and develops first and second grader students’ intercultural understandings. A study group of seven teachers and two university ... more »

Amanda Pickrell

Thorpe Creek Elementary School, Fishers, IN
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Fall

To create a collaborative environment that will improve student achievement, Mrs. Pickrell and her colleagues will establish professional learning communities that share a common vision. The communities will be comprised of collaborative teams focusing on learning and best ... more »

Amy Benac

Rockridge CUSD #300, Rockridge, IL
Grades K-5, Reading, Spelling, Writing
2011, Fall

Mrs. Benac will participate in comprehensive training of the Orton-Gillingham methodology, a research based approach to learning that has been proven to benefit students who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing activities. By completing the training, Mrs. Benac will ... more »

Eric Jones

Bartlett High School, Bartlett, IL
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Fall

Mr. Jones will attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Project 2061 Workshop in Washington, DC. While there, he will study Project 2061's approach to science assessment and its procedures for developing effective items that are carefully ... more »

Michael Steins

Shenandoah St. Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA
Grades K-5, Gifted and Talented
2011, Fall

Mr. Steins will complete the nine unit Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) Certification courses at the University of California Irvine Extension so that he can effectively differentiate instruction for his school's gifted learners. Upon completion of the program, Mr. ... more »

James "Chip" Fraser

Pacific High School, Ventura, CA
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2011, Fall

Through It’s My Life, Mr. Fraser and colleagues will amass data predicated on studies and research that examine whether high school students are more likely to succeed in school and adult life if they receive daily life skills instruction and are given a “road ... more »

Louise Mongeon

Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler School, Burlington, VT
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

To help provide students and staff at The Integrated Arts Academy with the most current, professional school nursing knowledge and skills in the specialty practice of school nursing, Mrs. Mongeon will attend the National Association of School Nurses' Annual ... more »

Mark Williams

Potomac Senior High, Dumfries, VA
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

To better communicate with an increasing Spanish speaking population at Potomac Senior High, Mr. Williams will travel to Guatemala to participate in The Casa Xelaju’s three week Spanish Immersion Program.  The program will require five hours of daily classroom ... more »

Bruce Borgelt

Clackamas Web Academy, Clackamas, OR
Grades 9-12, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Mr. Borgelt and his colleagues will form a study group to explore how to better prepare students for the academic rigors of Algebra I. The study group will evaluate the effectiveness of the current math curriculum and identify, implement, and evaluate assessments, ... more »

Brian Wetzel

Licking Heights Central Middle School, Pataskala, OH
Grades 6-8, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Mr. Wetzel will attend a SMART Certified Training to gain an understanding of the full capabilities of the interactive whiteboards at Licking Heights Central Middle School.  Post training, Mr. Wetzel will train colleagues on effective whiteboard use and will ... more »

Wendy Wright

R.C. Buckley Elementary School, Lansing, NY
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Ms. Wright will participate in an Earthwatch Institute expedition, studying Trinidad's leatherback sea turtles.  As a member of the scientific research team she will participate in satellite tracking and collect data about migration patterns and habitat to predict ... more »

Christopher Yonitch

Washington School, West Orange, NJ
Grades 9-12, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Mr. Yonitch will attend a cultural and language program in Peru, where he will live with a host family and attend Spanish language classes.  Upon completion, Mr. Yonitch will return to Washington School and share his knowledge with colleagues and students, sixty-five ... more »

Tami Kissell

Anaconda High School, Anaconda, MT
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

To reduce student risk factors and promote student achievement, Mrs. Kissell will implement the “Teachers Teaching Teachers” project at Anaconda High School.  Mrs. Kissell will lead a collegial study within the math department with the goals of improving ... more »

Dawn Holtz

West Elementary School, Hutchinson, MN
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Mrs. Holtz will participate in four brain based education courses at the University of St. Thomas.  Upon completing the courses, Mrs. Holtz will assist in advancing brain based research and teaching strategies in her school and district.  Additionally, Mrs. Holtz ... more »

Rebecca Mecikalski

Rebecca Mecikalski, Rochester, MN
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Mrs. Mecikalski will attend the International Reading Convention in Orland, Florida.  At the workshop, Mrs. Mecikalski will study ways to improve the reading scores of students at Pinewood Elementary, particularly Hispanic and African American populations.  Upon ... more »

Jacob Givand

New Hope Learning Center, New Hope, MN
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Mr. Givand will investigate the use of technology in several school districts in Minnesota in an attempt to understand its relationship to student achievement.  In addition to examining the best practices of effective technology integration, Mr. Givand will examine ... more »

Christie Nutkins

Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids, MI
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Four members of the Grand Rapids Public Schools staff will attain certification as behavior analysts, requiring intense training in effective instruction for students with autism.  In obtaining this certification, the colleagues will provide ongoing training and ... more »

Kerrin Stewart

Luther Conant School, Acton, MA
Grades K-5, Arts
2011, Spring

Ms. Stewart will travel to Ghana for three weeks to study the musical traditions of the Ewe people.  As a result of her research, Ms. Stewart will revise her music curriculum to include an in depth unit for the upper elementary grades exploring West African music, ... more »

Joanne Freimuth

Linganore High School, Frederick, MD
Grades 9-12, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Teachers in the World Languages professional learning community will learn how to create highly interactive lessons using Livescribe Smartpens.  The pens will then be introduced to classrooms, where students will be able to use them to record lectures and word ... more »

Kazimiera Dewese

Gower Middle School, Burr Ridge, IL
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Mrs. Dewese will attend the Science Education for Public Understanding (SEPUP) Academy in Silverthorne, Colorado.  While there, she will study literacy strategies that support reading comprehension as well as written, oral, and media literacy; technology tools; ... more »

Julie Vanhoose

Norcrest Elementary, Pompano Beach, FL
Grades K-5, General Pedagogical Practice
2011, Spring

Norcrest Elementary School educators will implement the International Baccalaureate/Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) in all grade levels and with all students.  The IBPYP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people.  Educators at Norcrest ... more »

Elizabeth Montano

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Los Angeles, CA
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Ms. Montano will attend the Columbia Teachers’ College Summer Workshop to improve her classroom practice so that she can provide her predominantly Latino student population with culturally relevant stories.  Upon returning from the workshop, Ms. Montano’s ... more »

Kathryn Grimble

Sunnymead Middle School, Moreno Valley, CA
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Mrs. Grimble and Ms. Hines will study several books and professional articles on differentiated instruction for middle schools and will apply what they learn to lessons for the upcoming school year.  They will share this information with the language arts department ... more »

Amanda Hoggle

Vance Elementary, Vance, AL
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Teachers at Vance Elementary will receive training in fundamental conceptual mathematics instruction.  A team of five educators will work together to strengthen the current math program by increasing students’ abilities to reason and solve problems ... more »

Leah Wendt

Prospect Elementary School, Lake Mills, WI
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

Ms. Wendt and Mrs. Collins will foster creative, constructive writing through the use of twenty first century technology tools.  “From Pen and Paper to Mouse and Keyboard” will use innovative web 2.0 technologies, including blogs, wikis, webinars, podcasts, ... more »

Heidi McNitt

School District of Osceola, Osceola, WI
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Educators within the School District of Osceola will be provided with interactive whiteboards for classroom instruction.  This technology will promote high quality, equitable instruction while improving student achievement in language arts and mathematics.  ... more »

Keyunda Wilson

Van Asselt Elementary, Seattle, WA
Grades K-5, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Students at Van Asselt Elementary will increase math proficiency through hands on exercises.  Scales will be used in math classes at all grade levels for measurement practice, with an emphasis on algebra understanding at the intermediate grade levels.  Students ... more »

Kyle Niekamp

Yale Elementary, Ariel, WA
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Students at Yale Elementary and community volunteers create and maintain an outdoor organic learning center.  The center will allow students to view and interact with numerous living systems.  The hub of the learning center will be a greenhouse, which will promote ... more »

Richard Rigby

Birch Creek Elementary, Smithfield, UT
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

Mr. Rigby and Mrs. Cox will improve students’ mastery of technology by introducing Smart Boards and clickers in the classroom.  Students will work in groups to compile materials for use in multimedia classroom presentations.  Additionally, the less ... more »

Andrea Tejada

Columbia Heights Elementary, San Antonio, TX
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Mrs. Tejada and Mrs. Root will lead students in the expansion of a school garden.  By planning and cultivating the garden, student will observe the life cycle of plants and will understand the origins of the vegetables they eat.  Additionally, rain barrels will be ... more »

Maria Ann Geffers

East Stroudsburg Area High School, East Stroudsburg, PA
Grades 9-12, Science
2011, Spring

Mrs. Geffers and Ms. Huffman will offer students an understanding of environmental science careers and public policy by encouraging them to consider the issues and debates surrounding energy and the environment through the lens of local, state, and global economies.  ... more »

Jennifer Keene

Legend Elementary, Newark, OH
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

To bridge the gap between special and general education students, Mrs. Keene and Mrs. Herrmann will introduce iPads in their classrooms as a way to enhance lessons through the use of technology.  The project will enable Mrs. Keene and Mrs. Herrmann to create innovative ... more »

Jillian Baker

Springfield Middle School, Holland, OH
Grades 6-8, Mathematics
2011, Spring

Through “Virtual Book Buddies,” eighth grade students at Springfield Middle School will create digital storybooks.  Students will record themselves reading the books aloud and the recordings will be used as learning tools to assist kindergarten ... more »

Renee Snyder

Goshen Lane Elementary, Gahanna, OH
Grades K-5, Computers / Technology
2011, Spring

To address the necessity of technological literacy in successful twenty first century learners, Ms. Snyder and Ms. Stoll will provide students with interactive multimedia technology via iPads and laptops.  The devices will be used to support academic needs, provide ... more »

Paula Tate

Draughn High, Valdese, NC
Grades 9-12, Social Studies
2011, Spring

In a collaboration of language arts and social studies classes, Draughn High students will conduct oral history projects based on student interests and class assignments.  These projects will require students to identify subjects, create questions, conduct interviews, ... more »

Kathy Green

Carroll T. Overton Elementary School, Salisbury, NC
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Spring

Mrs. Green and Mrs. Rutherford will expose students to nineteenth century culture through a visit to the historic Biltmore Estate and Grounds.  Through hands on interactive lessons, students will discover the rich history that exists within the walls of the estate and ... more »

Melissa Hamlin

Meadowview Middle School, Mount Airy, NC
Grades K-5, Science
2011, Spring

Through “Water Quality, Water Quality, What’s Your Location?,” students will use technology, the school campus, and the community to develop real world understanding of the importance of water.  The project will integrate language arts, science, math, ... more »

Kristine Ackerman

Skoi Yase Primary School, Waterloo, NY
Grades K-5, English
2011, Spring

To address a growing student population in need of additional reading support, faculty at Skoi Yase Primary School will create a leveled library.  The use of leveled books will enable Mrs. Ackerman and Ms. Cotter to provide differentiated guided reading instruction and ... more »

Katrina Macht

Hillside Intermediate School, Bridgewater, NJ
Grades 6-8, Arts
2011, Spring

Mrs. Macht and Mr. Sgro will introduce “Youth Engaged in Service through the Arts (YES A+),” a unit that will use the core principles of service learning to bring youth voice and choice into the school day.  The project will guide students in the ... more »

Scott Kukan

Farms Intermediate School, Brighton, MI
Grades K-5, Social Studies
2011, Spring

Mr. Kukan and Mrs. Markby will implement the “Global Perspective Project,” which will provide students with a hands on approach to social studies learning.  Students will focus on the “where” and “why” of the world and on the people ... more »

Join us next year!

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.