Argine Safari, music instructor at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale and the 2016-17 NJ State Teacher of the Year, is one of 38 public educators receiving the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence. Safari was presented with a $650 commemorative check during a surprise ceremony on Oct. 16 from California Casualty Associate Account Manager Alina Fayerman.

The New Jersey Education Association nominated Safari for the honor. Representatives from the Pascack Valley Regional Education Association and NJEA were present at the announcement.

Safari will also be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala to be held in Washington, DC on February 9, 2018.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize excellence in instructional and professional practice and are nominated by their peers – their NEA state affiliate – for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.

“I believe that my students are powerful and can change the world. We, the educators, are developing true leaders of the future who inspire and help others,” said Ms. Safari.

Each year, the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala draws almost 1,000 supporters of public education, and thousands more online, to applaud these awardees. At the gala, the educators are truly the stars, celebrated throughout the night with music, performances, videos, and more. The evening gives educators well-deserved recognition for their hard work, personal dedication, and profound influence. The gala maybe be viewed online, and the nation’s top educator will be revealed.

“These outstanding educators are innovators, challengers, and global thinkers,” said Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation President and CEO. “We are delighted that California Casualty joins us once again in expressing our shared admiration and thanks for their work.”

“The California Casualty awardees are the architects of our nation’s future,” said Beau Brown, California Casualty CEO. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to honor them with the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence.”

California Casualty offers a number of grants to educators. To see all of the available grants, visit NJEA’s Other Grants page.


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