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NEA member receives USA Network’s inaugural ‘Characters Unite Award’

Educator Brian JEFFREY honored by celebrity cast for efforts in fighting prejudice, discrimination


WASHINGTON - December 02, 2009 -

Brian JEFFREY, a 47-year-old English teacher at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and member of the National Education Association, received today the first-ever Characters Unite Award from the USA Network.  The honor was created to recognize individuals who make significant and lasting differences to fight prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination.

The award is one component of USA Network’s larger community affairs campaign, Characters Unite, which was created to overcome social injustices and bridge cultural divides in our society. The 2009 award was presented by “Psych” co-star Dulé Hill during a special luncheon, which followed the Characters Unite National Town Hall Meeting moderated by NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw.

JEFFREY co-founded a multiracial student club called “Socially Together and Naturally Diverse,” more commonly known as STAND. The program brings students together to celebrate their diversity and confront racism, sexism and homophobia. In addition, he started a group called STAND UP, which performs a play written by JEFFREY based on the true life experiences of current and past members of STAND. JEFFREY’s groundbreaking program also received NEA’s 42nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award. 

“Brian JEFFREY has found an innovative way to connect with students through his program STAND,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “As a result, he has sparked a national conversation about how we can work together to fight negative stereotypes and discrimination. We congratulate Mr. JEFFREY on being named the inaugural winner of USA Network’s Characters Unite Award.”

JEFFREY is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in English and is credentialed to provide English language instruction to English learners.  He has been active in his local education Association, the Associated Chaffey Teachers, serving as chair of its Human Rights Committee and as a member of the Bargaining Committee. He also has attended the NEA Representative Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the 3.2 million-member NEA.

As the recipient of the Characters Unite Award, JEFFREY receives a $10,000 grant from USA Network to donate to his project or a related nonprofit organization.  JEFFREY also will be featured on www.charactersunite.com

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7823, smaiers@nea.org