Natalie Johnson-Berry, a member of the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team and a restorative justice facilitator at Wyandotte High School, is one of five recipients of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.
The announcement was made Wednesday, Nov. 2, by the NEA Foundation. The award is sponsored by the Horace Mann Educators Foundation and recognizes educators for their exceptional skill in the classroom, attention to equity and diversity, engagement of families and communities, commitment to ongoing professional development and advocacy to the profession.
Johnson-Berry was nominated by the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA).
“Receiving this honor means everything to me,” Johnson-Berry said. “It’s not just about me, but about all of the future teachers and people in my community who look like me. I want them to know that they can accomplish great things, even when there are setbacks and obstacles. This is about representation, being empowered and having hope.”
The other 2023 awardees are:
Stephanie Ballard, a math educator at George S. Mickelson Middle School, nominated by the South Dakota Education Association.
Kevin Gallagher, a math and computer science educator at Keystone Oaks High School, nominated by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Theresa Maughan, a social studies educator at East Orange STEM Academy, nominated by the New Jersey Education Association.
Lee Perez, an English as a second language (ESL) educator at Alice Buffet Magnet Middle School, nominated by the Nebraska State Education Association.
For more than 20 years, the NEA Foundation and Horace Mann have celebrated outstanding educators from around the country with this recognition, according to neafoundation.org.
Each 2023 honoree will be featured in a documentary video that will premiere at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala on May 5, 2023. Each honoree also will receive a $10,000 award.
Before becoming a restorative justice facilitator for Wyandotte High School, Kansas City Kansas Unified School District 500, Johnson-Berry served as an English teacher at Shawnee Mission North High School, Shawnee Mission USD 512.
Johnson-Berry isn’t the only Kansas teacher to receive the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. Crystal May, a 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team member, was named a recipient in 2018. At the time, May was a fourth-grade teacher at Pray-Woodman Elementary School, Maize USD 266.
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