For Immediate Release
Robin Freese

California Casualty Celebrates Exceptional Educators

San Mateo, CA, February 17, 2021—The NEA Foundation’s 2021 Salute to Excellence in Education Gala took place virtually on the evening of Friday, February 12th. Although the venue was different, the event remained exceptional - filled with inspiration, appreciation and celebration. California Casualty, a longtime sponsor of the event, was proud to attend and pay tribute to the 46 educators chosen by their peers for one of public education’s highest honors—the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence.

The virtual gala went off without a hitch and was attended by over 1100 individuals. Attendees were able to snap a virtual photo through the unique online photo booth and share chats throughout the event while celebrating the honorees.

Through a pre-recorded greeting, California Casualty President and CEO, Joe Volponi, delivered an inspiring message to the deserving recipients and attendees. “On behalf of our California Casualty family, I am honored to be here with all of you tonight for this special event. This gala gives us the opportunity to honor some of the American Heroes that we at California Casualty are there to protect …and I have to say, have never been more heroic than throughout this past year.”

“This evening we celebrate the can-do spirit, the perseverance, the dedication and the tremendous accomplishments of some of our nation’s greatest heroes—public school educators and public schools,” said Sara A. Sneed, President and CEO, The NEA Foundation. “I don’t think there ever has been a time when this country has been more aware of what educators contribute: not just to children’s lives, but to the very heart of community life, to the functioning of our economy and to democracy.”

The Awards for Teaching Excellence program recognizes educators from around the country who shine in their schools, their communities, and their own learning. These educators advocate for each other, the profession, and students, and they embrace the diversity of their communities and the wider world.

Casey Keyser, a third-grade elementary school teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School in Frederick, MD took home the top honor: the NEA Member Benefits $25,000 Award for Teaching Excellence.

California Casualty gave a $150 stipend to each Awardee to purchase items to enhance classrooms.

The NEA Foundation is a national nonprofit and philanthropic organization that works in partnership with others to promote the very best in public education. Learn more at, Facebook and Twitter.

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala is a national celebration of public school educators and public schools. At this annual event, the Foundation recognizes and promotes educators’ excellence in teaching, attention to diversity, and advocacy for the profession.

California Casualty has been serving the insurance needs of educators for 70 years and is the only auto and home insurance company to earn the trust and endorsement of the National Education Association (NEA). Learn more about the special rates and educator-specific benefits available through the NEA Auto and Home Insurance Program by visiting, or by calling 1.800.800.9410.

Salute to Excellence in Education Gala 2021

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence