Takeru Nagayoshi, an Advanced Placement English teacher at New Bedford High School who was named the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, is among five educators who have been chosen to receive the NEA Foundation’s Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence.
Nagayoshi, a member of the New Bedford Educators Association, will receive $10,000 and will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala, scheduled for Feb. 12, 2021. The names of the five awardees were released today.
The NEA Foundation and the National Education Association jointly present the awards, which are sponsored by NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies and California Casualty.
The five awardees represent the best of the education profession.
They are chosen from among the dozens of educators who are nominated each year by their state affiliates for the annual California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence. Honorees are selected for their dedication, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity and advocacy for fellow educators.
The gala will culminate in the largest award of the evening, the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. One of the five Horace Mann winners will be the recipient of this award, which carries a prize of $25,000. Nagayoshi was one of 46 educators from all over the U.S. chosen to receive the California Casualty honor for 2021.
MTA President Merrie Najimy nominated the popular New Bedford educator.
“Takeru holds one of the most admirable traits of young people: idealism,” she wrote in her letter nominating Nagayoshi. “But even more than that, he has an analysis of race, gender and class that informs his teaching pedagogy and praxis, and his activism. His students are quite lucky to have him as a teacher.”
Najimy added that Nagayoshi also understands that union activism “is inextricably linked to being an educator, for it is through the union that we fight for and win the schools our communities deserve.”
She said that after meeting Nagayoshi in 2017 and working with him and the New Bedford community in 2018 against the expansion of the Alma del Mar Charter School, “I was thrilled to learn that Takeru was nominated and then chosen as the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. He was an inspiring choice on every level.”