The NEA Foundation, the charity arm of the teachers' union, announced the winners of the annual Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence yesterday. The recipients were drawn from a pool of 36 state-affiliate awardees, according to the NEA Foundation. In a press release, Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation, explained the awardees were selected for "their exemplary instruction, advocacy for the profession, attention to diversity, leadership in professional development, and engagement of parents and the community."
The five winners will receive $10,000 each and their students will receive training in video production and other digital arts from the Pearson Foundation.
Here's a bit about the winners:
- Kimberley Gilles, a language arts teacher in Danville, Calif., is an advocate for civil rights in education who brings a social justice component into writing classes by teaching works like The Laramie Project.
- Eileen Sheehy, a U.S. government teacher in Billings, Mont., teaches students to think critically about the U.S. Constitution and express their political views articulately.
- Kathleen Sims, an early childhood special education and school readiness teacher in Foley, Minn., makes books experiential for students with elaborate classroom decorations and advocates for full inclusion in early childhood settings to teach empathy and acceptance.
- Brian Sites, a social studies, mathematics, and technology teacher in Richland, Wash., creates individualized learning pathways for students at risk of dropping out.
- Christopher Stone, a 5th grade teacher in Wallingford, Conn., literally teaches his students rocket science, using soda bottles and paper to build rockets.
The winning teachers will be presented with the award at a gala on Feb. 7, 2014, which will be livestreamed on the NEA Foundation website.