Press Releases

Celebrating Educational Trailblazers: Committee for Children Unveils Recipients of the Inaugural Second Step Educator of the Year Award

National award spotlights outstanding educators who cultivate resilience, problem-solving, and positive relationships in classrooms and school communities nationwide

SEATTLE – August 21, 2023 – With back-to-school season upon us, concerns about the well-being and retention of our nation’s K-12 teachers continue. A recent report reveals that 23% of teachers planned to quit by the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Among the 77% sticking around, their ability to impact students positively and build strong relationships were their top reasons to stay. It’s time we recognize devoted educators making meaningful differences in our children’s lives and teaching them valuable life skills.

Committee for Children, a global nonprofit and leading provider of social-emotional learning programs, is thrilled to announce the 10 winners of the prestigious Second Step Educator of the Year Awards. The first-of-its-kind awards honor educators who are strengthening children’s social-emotional skills like communication, problem-solving, and goal setting in their classrooms in effective and innovative ways with Second Step programs.

After a rigorous selection process, Committee for Children is pleased to honor the following 10 educators as the Second Step Educator of the Year Award winners for 2023:

  1. Nerwin Balilu, Grades 6-8 Resource Teacher, Arizona
  2. Marlo Diaz Davis, Culture and Climate Coach, California
  3. Joann Chan-McShane, Resource/Special Education Teacher, Illinois
  4. Ali Drutowski, Grade 8 Teacher, Minnesota
  5. Madison Hunt Wilfong, Grade 6 Teacher, Georgia
  6. Stacie Paruta, Special Education Teacher, New Jersey
  7. Neha Singh, Kindergarten Teacher, Virginia
  8. Carrie White, Grade 2 Teacher, New York
  9. Marie Williams, Grades 3-4 Teacher, California
  10. Katie Wohlford McCracken, School Counselor, North Carolina

“These incredible educators have truly touched our hearts with their unwavering dedication, innovative spirit, and the genuine impact they’ve brought to life through our Second Step program,” said Polly Stansell, vice president of product at Committee for Children. “Day in and day out, it’s clear these stellar educators are crafting a legacy of compassion and resilience and setting a shining example for their school communities.”

Each winner will receive a $500 honorarium, special recognition during the live Second Step Educator Showcase event, an invitation to join an exclusive Second Step Champion community, and a LinkedIn digital badge to recognize their achievements publicly.

The 2023 award winners will be celebrated at the Second Step Educator Showcase, a live virtual event on August 22, 2023, at Noon PST. The event is open to the public. To learn more about the Second Step Educator of the Year awards and to register for the event, visit:


Media Contact:

Jordana Ehling, Public Relations Manager

About Committee for Children
Committee for Children is a global nonprofit on a mission to ensure that children everywhere can thrive emotionally, socially, and academically. The organization has been working in partnership with educators and families for more than 40 years. Visit to learn more.

About Second Step® Programs
The research-based Second Step family of programs, developed by Committee for Children, includes social-emotional learning curricula for Early Learning through Grade 8, with additional offerings for out-of-school time and SEL for adults. Second Step programs are used in 45,000 schools across all 50 states and reach 26.9 million children worldwide annually. Visit to learn more.