Danville teacher Kimberley Gilles received a high honor -- and a $25,000 check -- from the National Education Association Foundation earlier this month.
The English instructor from Monte Vista High took home the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, which "recognizes, rewards and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession," according to the foundation.
"It is my honor to accept this award in the name of the American public school teacher," Gilles said during her acceptance speech at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. "It is my honor to say to you, 'Well done. You labor in the vineyards and you bring home a good harvest.'"
A teacher for 27 years, Gilles said her students continue to "show me every day what can happen when a great idea meets a great kid, and the room lights up."
"Gilles has been selected for this award by her peers because she has attained the highest teaching standards, as illustrated by her exemplary instruction, advocacy for the profession and staunch support of public education," said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.
"In her classroom, she shares her passion for social justice to inspire students to lift up their own voices through reading and writing," Sanford added.
Gilles, nominated by the California Teachers Association, was one of five finalists for the foundation's top honor. The other candidates represented elementary schools from Foley, Minn., and Wallingford, Conn., and high schools from Billings, Mont., and Richland, Wash.
The foundation presented nearly 40 awards to educators and public-education supporters during the ceremony Feb. 7. Gilles' award was the final presentation of the evening.
The event was hosted by actress Phylicia Rashad, perhaps best known for her role on television's "The Cosby Show."
Visit the NEA Foundation website to watch clips of the gala, including Gilles' acceptance speech.