Tommy O'Briant Freeman II, received the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence for 2003. Freeman is a second-grade teacher at Peterson Elementary School in Red Springs. The annual award recognizes, rewards and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. He and four other finalists each received a cash award of $10,000. USA TODAY twice named him one of the top forty teachers in the country. Outside the classroom, Freeman serves his community as an elected town commissioner.