DC’s own Dominique Dawes springs into action at The Academy Awards of Public Education.
The NEA Foundation’s to Salute Excellence in Education Gala hosted by Olympic gymnast and motivational speaker Dominique Dawes, awarded one of education’s top honors, The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. The proud winner of this honor and the $25,000 that come along with it was Danielle Kovach, a special education’s teacher from New Jersey’s Tulsa Trail Elementary School.
The gala of the NEA foundation, which is celebrated every year, gave out 30 awards Friday evening but Kovach’s award, being the highest honor, was the grand finale. “Danielle’s innovative lessons have made her a favorite among her students and a leader among teachers of special education,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Her use of the latest technology to engage students– from showing videos on her Smart Pad to projecting books on a screen– is just one of the many reasons that she is being honored with this award.”
This year’s event celebrated the connection between educators and students. Part of the gala included entertainment by students showing talents such as playing the flute, the alto saxophone and dancing for the 800 leaders of education, philanthropic and business sectors that attended this event. For the top award for which Kovach was the winner, there where five finalists; all of them received special recognition at the gala, Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence, and $10,000.
Each of the nominated finalists had videos honoring them made by their students with assistance of the Pearson Foundation. The other four finalists came from all over the states: Lisa Esquibel, a kindergarten educator at Davis Elementary School in Cheyenne, WY; Jonathan Gillentine, an early childhood educator at Reverend Benjamin Parker School in Kaneohe, HI; Cara Haney, a kindergarten educator at Panther Lake Elementary in Kent, WA; and Jeff Peneston, a ninth grade science educator at Liverpool High School in Liverpool, NY.
Every year the foundation recognizes, rewards, promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for this profession. In addition to honoring educators, the foundation also presented the Ford Foundation with the NEA Foundation Award for Philanthropy in Public Education.