Congratulations to the public schools educators who were nominated by their NEA state affiliates for this year's NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. 

Get to know the awardees!

These five extraordinary educators from across the country received the Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, $10,000, and recognition at the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on February 12, 2016. Enjoy this sneak peek into their classrooms!


On Teaching How to Teach


"Authentic learning experiences are embedded into my lessons to help diverse learners understand content…Students are often amazed at the way they excel in my class, and with that success I see their confidence transfer to other areas of their life.” 


Debra McDonald

Wayne County Schools Career Center

Smithville, OH


A Library For Every Learner

“Every Veteran’s Day my students write letters to men and women serving our country overseas. The past three years, students have written letters asking general questions and telling servicemen and servicewomen about their typical days and about current events in the states. It has been beneficial for students to consider what patriotism truly means, to understand that something as simple as writing a letter can mean a great deal.”

Heather LaBarbara

West Jessamine Middle School

 Nicholasville, KY

No Right or Wrong Policy

“If I understand my students, if I have connected with them in my classroom, I can provide the best teaching practices to ensure learning the content in an engaging atmosphere... Papers are handed in when done correctly and not on a specific due date. Formal assessments are done when the students tell me that they have learned enough and want a test.” 

Pam Wells

Mobridge-Pollock High School

Mobridge, SD

An Education For All

“I am teaching it forward. That is my philosophy of education. I will continue to grow as an educator and grow my profession by being involved in coaching my fellow educators. I will continue to use my voice and knowledge to advocate for my profession and the many students I teach every day.” 

 Mohsen Ghaffari

North Star Elementary School

Salt Lake City, UT

Learning in a Looping Classroom

“To me, innovation… means being open to the idea that alternative approaches can work in tandem with tried and true methods to benefit all my students. For example, I have three students who are deaf and hard of hearing. I’ve begun using sign language to teach sight words to the entire class, and I’ve been thrilled with the results. I am able to meet the special needs of the deaf and hard of hearing students while also giving the rest of the class another approach to learning words.” 

 Dirk Andrews

Evansville Elementary School

Evansville, WY