The NEA Foundation today announced that Mary Ellen Daneels, a social studies educator at West Chicago Community High School in West Chicago, Ill., is one of 38 public educators who will receive the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala next February in Washington, D.C.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees are nominated by their peers for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.

“While direct instruction can teach the ‘rules of the road,’ it is when students ‘take the wheel’ and make policy choices, build coalitions, and harness their own voices that the abstract becomes real,” says Daneels.

Each year, the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala draws almost 1,000 supporters of public education, and thousands more online, to applaud these awardees. At the gala, the educators are truly the stars, celebrated throughout the night with music, performances, videos, and more. The evening gives educators well-deserved recognition for their hard work, personal dedication, and profound influence.

“These outstanding educators put heart and soul into supporting students and improving the profession,” says Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation President and CEO. “We deeply appreciate California Casualty’s partnership in recognizing educators across the country.”

“We are glad to have the chance to show our respect and appreciation for the work of public school educators each year,” says Beau Brown, California Casualty CEO. “We applaud the great work of the California Casualty awardees.”

Of these 38 state awardees, who were nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, five finalists will be announced at the beginning of the school year and receive $10,000 at the gala. The nation’s top educator will be revealed at the gala on February 9, 2018 and receive an additional $25,000. The gala will be livestreamed at neafoundation.org.

The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards. Find more information about the awards and photos of the awardees.

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