The Public Education Foundation (PEF) celebrated 30 years of supporting public schools at its 30th Birthday Party Gala on Friday, September 10, 2021 with nearly 400 community and education leaders in attendance.

“We were proud to bring the community together to honor the 2021 Clark County School District Employees of the Year in partnership with the district,” shared Rich Broome, CEO of the Public Education Foundation. “We are grateful to our sponsors and partners who joined us to celebrate 30 years of impact and support our mission to meet critical education needs that will strengthen our public schools.”

Organizations including Caesars Entertainment, Nevada Gold Mines, NV Energy, the Troesh Family, Achieve 3000, Cox and UMR, a UnitedHealthcare Company sponsored the event held at the open-air Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace. Guests enjoyed food stations inspired by the chefs of Caesars and artistic swimming, dance and acrobatics performances from local students. See photos from the event here.

In recognition of their support of students during distance learning, PEF was proud to honor Cox as its Community Partner of the Year. Cox surprised guests with a special $5,000 donation to support PEF’s programs to provide school supplies to teachers to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.

The event also marked the culmination of the first-ever Clark County School District (CCSD) Employee of the Year Awards, honoring teachers, support professionals and administrators dedicated to advancing student achievement. Honorees joined PEF Board Chairwoman Jan Jones Blackhurst and CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara on stage to share their gratitude with guests during the program.

“I am so grateful that every day I get to go to work and do a job that is always challenging, but also incredibly rewarding and fun,” shared Melissa Tanner, a fourth-grade teacher and the 2021 Teacher of the Year. “It is a joy to see my students’ growth, and share in their journey of learning.”

“I try my hardest every day to be a positive aspect of our students’ experiences,” said Cormella Belt, a student success secretary and the 2021 Support Professional of the Year. “I just never thought I would be recognized for doing that because, to me, it is the least I could do to ensure that the students of O’Callaghan i3 Learn Academy are encouraged and inspired!”

“At Steele Elementary School, we always say that we take every student that walks through our doors and we are all stronger because of it,” shared Lynn Walker, a principal and the 2021 School Administrator of the Year. “Our students are walking through our doors with bigger challenges than we have faced in the past, but I am lucky to be a part of such an incredible team of educators and staff that consistently rise to the occasion.”

“I am honored and most thankful to have the opportunity to shine a light on my incredible coworkers,” shared Denise Farleigh, a director in the CCSD Payroll department and the 2021 Central Administrator of the Year. “I am humbled and amazed at the level of dedication and professionalism they bring to work each day.”

In addition to the Employees of the Year, PEF honored the 2021 National Teacher of the Year, Juliana Urtubey, a CCSD educator and the first National Teacher of the Year from Nevada. “To be an educator is to believe that every child has the right to an uplifting education, one that builds a sense of belonging, and increases access by erasing barriers,” Ms. Urtubey shared. “This is what I like to call a joyous and just education. Here’s to 2021 being the year of a joyous and just education for all.”

The CCSD Employee of the Year honorees will be recognized in a special episode of Student Spotlight to air on Vegas PBS on Monday, September 27, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. For more information about the honorees and the CCSD Employee of the Year Awards, please visit Learn more about PEF at