Grammy-award winner John Legend honored the five winners of PEOPLE's 2012 Teacher of the Year awards at a luncheon at the Time Life building in New York on Wednesday.
The five winners are Libby Curran, a special education teacher in Newport, N.H., Robert Vega, a music teacher at Rauner College Prep in Chicago, Jennifer Bohn, who teaches leadership at Evans High School in Orlando, Fla., Brian Copes, a pre-engineering teacher at Calera High School in Calera, Ala., and Arwen Imai Matthews, a science teacher at KIPP 3D Academy in Houston, were celebrated for their innovation in and out of the classroom.
The winners and their guests dined on watercress, candied walnut and goat cheese salad, herb roasted chicken with whipped potatoes, caramelized onions and sautéed Swiss chard and vanilla apple crisp with Chantilly créme.
"I am so inspired by the work of the teachers we honored. Having great teachers is the single most important factor in giving our kids a great education, and it's crucial that we recognize and reward the excellent work teachers do and give them the tools they need to succeed," Legend, who helped select the winners, told PEOPLE.
– Sharon Cotliar