Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Utah Educator Receives Top Honor at the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala

Jane Goodall and Nickelodeon also honored at Washington, DC Event

WASHINGTON, DC (May 1, 2010)  - On Friday, April 30, at the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, Salt Lake City educator, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, received the top honor, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. At this annual celebration of the men and women who work in America's public schools, the Foundation presented more than 40 awards to exceptional educators and dedicated supporters.

This year's event featured an eco-friendly theme and awardees shared the stage with national leaders in the environmental movement, including event emcee, Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International, Correspondent for Planet Green, and Spokesperson for Discovery Education.

Gallagher-Fishbaugh, a second grade teacher at Dilworth Elementary School, was nominated for the award by the Utah Education Association, and was one of 38 public school educators nominated by their state associations.  All 38 educators were recognized at the event and received The Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation's Award for Teaching Excellence. The NEA Foundation donated $750 to each of the nominees' schools and covered the cost of their travel to attend the gala.

"Sharon represents the very best of the good things happening in Utah's public schools," said Kim Campbell, president of the Utah Education Association. "She is a professional educator not only dedicated to her students, but also to her profession. Her passion for education is contagious."

The following four runners-up for the top honor were given special recognition and presented with The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and $10,000.

  • Sarah Baird, a math coach at Kyrene del Milenio and Kyrene del Cielo Elementary Schools in Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Katherine Bishop, a special education teacher at Lake Park Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Tim McCollum, an eighth grade science teacher at Charleston Middle School in Charleston, Ill.
  • Bob Williams, a high school math teacher at Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska

The five awardees were introduced by video profiles created by their students with training and technical support donated by the Pearson Foundation.  Last fall, a Pearson Foundation team spent several days at each of the awardees' schools instructing students and teachers how to create and produce a video and how to use digital arts technologies. The video profiles can be viewed here.

"These educators were nominated by their peers because they attained the highest standards of the profession," said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. "Honoring them is our way to thank them for their excellent work."

In addition to the outstanding educators, the NEA Foundation presented Nickelodeon with The NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education for its commitment to children and to education.

"For more than 30 years, Nickelodeon has engaged and educated children across the nation and around the world," said Sanford. "Nickelodeon has championed the environment, health and wellness, education, and community service. Most recently, through its Big Help Grants, Nickelodeon is providing up to $5,000 in direct support to schools and community-based organizations for environmentally-friendly projects that educate and inspire kids to take care of the environment, themselves, and their communities."

The NEA Foundation also presented Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN messenger of Peace, with its Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education for her lifelong achievements in chimpanzee behavioral research and community-centered conservation in Africa, as well as for her international environmental and humanitarian youth program, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots.

About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit www.neafoundation.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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