Watch live as Hawaii teacher Cynthia Tong is honored in Washington, D.C.

The NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Awards Gala will be live streamed Feb. 8

On Friday, Feb. 8, Hawaii teacher Cynthia Tong will be honored in Washington, D.C. as one of the nation's top educators.

Each year, the NEA Foundation's prestigious Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence honors five educators for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, community and profession.

The eighth-grade U.S. history social studies teacher at Ewa Makai Middle School in Ewa Beach will be celebrated with four others—Matthew Bacon-Brenes from Portland, OR; Leah Juelke from Fargo, ND; Dan Ryder from Farmington, ME; and Cicely Woodard from Franklin, TN—at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Awards Gala.

"Cindy is someone that embraces change, and not just for her school. She's always been a leader at school, but at the same time, she's also trying to change education for all the children of Hawaii. She truly is a leader," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee.

Tong is attending the gala with her husband, Eric Tong.

The gala will be live streamed here starting at 2:30 p.m. HST. Click to watch!


“These five educators kindle ideas, open minds, nurture confidence, and build community. They keep the promise of public education by growing the hearts and minds of their students, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow,” said Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation president and CEO.  “By honoring them with this award, we thank them and all the public school educators they represent, who work tirelessly on behalf of their students, schools, and communities.”

“So many teachers go above and beyond to serve the needs of their students, and these five educators are great examples of what it takes to excel in the classroom,” said Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann president and CEO. “As a company serving educators’ financial needs for more than 70 years, Horace Mann is pleased to honor these educators for playing an instrumental role in educating the children of our future.”

Related Story: National award shines spotlight on Ewa Beach teacher

Tong was nominated for the award by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, a National Education Association affiliate.

She has been teaching for 25 years and currently serves on HSTA's Board of Directors, representing teachers in its Leeward Oahu Chapter. She received the S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence at HSTA’s State Convention last April.

Tong’s students will help produce a video honoring their teacher, which will premiere at the gala.