FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Dec. 15, 2014) – Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) awarded Emma Donnan Middle School’s teacher, Grace Underwood, with its top honor today – The New American Hero award. The New American Hero Award is an organization-wide honor recognizing CSUSA’s top teacher. Underwood will receive $5,000 for her selection.
51 schools within CSUSA’s network nominated one teacher. In 2014, Emma Donnan Middle School in Indianapolis nominated Underwood. She was selected from a group of five finalists that included Jennifer Wilson (Langtree Charter Academy), Catherine Ness (Four Corners), Stephanie Campbell (Cape Coral Charter School), and Elyse Kotkin (North Broward Academy of Excellence).
Underwood teaches special education for 7th and 8th grades. Twenty-five percent of students at Emma Donnan and 15 percent of students throughout CSUSA’s entire network receive special education services.
“Grace is one of those unique individuals who approaches teaching as a mission and a calling,” said Sherry Hage, CSUSA’s chief academic officer. “She starts each day with purpose and is making an impact in the lives of every student, especially those with learning disabilities.”
“I am so excited and honored to receive the New American Hero Award. Teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities can only be effective if everyone is a part of the process,” said Underwood. “This award shows that our school is successful in regards to educating all students and that my students are making life-changing gains.”
Underwood earned a Bachelor of Science in education from Ohio State University and a Master of Art in teaching at Marian University in Indianapolis. Both degrees included a focus on special education.
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