Jena Nelson Earns National Award for Teaching Excellence During Pandemic School Year

May 10, 2022
2 min read

(May 10, 2022) OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Jena Nelson, candidate for Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction and 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, is being recognized for her pandemic-era education advocacy by the NEA Foundation. She will receive the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington, DC, on Friday, May 13.

“I’m so pleased and honored that my advocacy was recognized by the NEA Foundation. The pandemic required public school educators to innovate like never before and pivot to digital classrooms almost overnight,” Mrs. Nelson said. “As State Superintendent, I will work diligently to reduce the clutter of additional work and will let these professionals do what they do best: teach our kids.”

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees were nominated for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators. This year’s 46 awardees represent 45 states.

"At a time when our country has faced tremendous challenges, we all are more aware than ever of public-school educators' dedication, excellence and creativity. Never has it been more important to honor and celebrate them,” says Sara A. Sneed, President and CEO of The NEA Foundation. "Each California Casualty awardee exemplifies a passion for their students' learning, leadership among their peers, and the best in the teaching profession. We are grateful to California Casualty for its recognition and support and look forward to honoring the 2022 awardees at the Salute to Excellence in Education.”

Mrs. Nelson is a student support coordinator and academic enhancement instructor. In addition to being an educator, Mrs. Nelson is mom to 17-year-old son, Rafe, and 12-year-old daughter, Linnea. Her husband, Karl, is a professor and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma. Mrs. Nelson has been an educator for more than 16 years and has helped her students earn over $4 million in scholarships. She has been selected to direct at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was chosen as a presenter at the International Music Festival in Campina Grande Brazil. In 2020, she was asked by Congresswoman Kendra Horn to attend the State of the Union Address in Washington D.C. She recently spoke at the National Academy for Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Oklahoma Music Educators Association Conference, and was presented the Award for Teaching Excellence from the OEA.

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