October 28, 2021

Sun Prairie Teacher Receives Prestigious Horace Mann National Award

Sun Prairie Teacher Receives Prestigious Horace Mann National Award Featured Image

Chris Gleason Among Five Educators in America Honored for Community-Building, Outstanding Achievement During a Challenging Year

Sun Prairie band teacher Chris Gleason is among five educators in America to receive one of public education’s highest honors, the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. The NEA Foundation award recognizes educators for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, communities and their profession.

Gleason, a band teacher at Patrick Marsh Middle School, is a member of the Sun Prairie Education Association and Wisconsin Education Association Council. He has received many honors for his excellence in teaching, including being named a 2019 NEA Global Learning Fellow. He was a 2017 semi-finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award and, as a 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, was the first Wisconsin teacher to be named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year in 50 years.

“Mr. Gleason lights a fire in students,” said Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, a teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “He creates a culture where middle school students learn music while developing persistence and a personal vision of excellence.

“The same way he lights a fire in students, he inspires the educators around him,” Wirtz-Olsen said. “We are so proud of his continuing work to advance excellent education and educators.”

“These awardees’ stories are as diverse as the communities they serve and the educator profession itself,” said Sara A. Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Their exceptional commitment to their students and school communities, however, is the special quality that connects this year’s five honorees and all Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence recipients. We thank Horace Mann for their continued support in recognizing outstanding educators in such an uplifting way.”

“Educators are at the forefront of inspiring the next generation of change-makers,” said Marita Zuraitis, president and CEO of Horace Mann, a financial services company that has served educators for more than 75 years. “We value the investment all educators make in their students, especially during times of great change. They are the bedrock of their communities, and we are proud to recognize the exceptional contributions and achievements of the recipients of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.”

Gleason will be featured in a mini-documentary video that will premiere at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala and will receive a $10,000 award.

The NEA Foundation presents the Awards for Teaching Excellence annually, with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, and California Casualty.


Editor’s Note: Please use our correct name, the NEA Foundation. The “NEA” is never spelled out in our name. It is not the National Education Association Foundation.

About the NEA Foundation

The NEA Foundation is a national philanthropic organization that invests in educators’ leadership, shared learning and collaboration; supports partnerships and initiatives that strengthen public education; and promotes improvements in public education policy and practice. Find us at neafoundation.org, Facebook and Twitter.

About Horace Mann
Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE: HMN) is the largest financial services company focused on providing America’s educators and school employees with insurance and retirement solutions. Founded by Educators for Educators® in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. For more information, visit horacemann.com.