Natalia Benjamin, an English-language teacher at Century High School, is one of 45 public school educators who will receive the prestigious California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education gala in February.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees are nominated for their dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development, attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators, a press release from the Foundation said. This year’s awardees represent 45 states.

Benjamin was named the 2021 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Aug. 11. She made history as both the first teacher from Rochester and the first Latinx teacher to receive the award.

According to its website, the NEA Foundation is "a national nonprofit and philanthropic organization based in Washington, DC.," working to "promote the absolute best in public education."

Of the 45 state awardees nominated by their National Education Association state affiliate, five will be chosen as finalists for the top national award and will receive $10,000. The educator selected for the top award will be named at the gala and receive $25,000. The Salute to Excellence in Education also will be livestreamed.