Now Reading:
Thomas Jefferson Junior High School Wins $20,000 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom ‘MVP Award’
Full Article 7 minutes read

Thomas Jefferson Junior High School Wins $20,000 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom ‘MVP Award’

BELLEVUE, Wash. & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”” target=”_blank”gt;#Symetralt;/agt;–Symetra, a national provider of employee benefits, annuities and life
insurance, awarded Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Woodridge,
Illinois, with a $20,000 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom®
“MVP Award.” The education grant will fund “Learning through the Lens
of Equity,”
a multi-pronged approach to supporting equity in
education that seeks to connect Jefferson students to the curriculum,
classroom and community. The program will help ensure that all literacy
classrooms have texts that appeal to a culturally diverse population of
learners and provide staff with training around cultural sensitivity,
consciousness around race, and help set the stage to begin having
difficult conversations around implicit bias, prejudice and the power of

“Learning through the Lens of Equity” was announced as the grant
recipient during an April 5th luncheon at Halas Hall
celebrating the 16 Chicago-area teachers recognized as Symetra Heroes in
the Classroom during the 2018 NFL season. George H. McCaskey, chairman
of the Chicago Bears, a Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program partner,
and Bears offensive lineman Rashaad Coward visited with the teachers,
who were accompanied by their school principals. Symetra Heroes in the
Classroom honors K-12 teachers for educational excellence and offers
each of the 16 schools with a teacher-Hero the opportunity to submit an
MVP Award proposal. Nominated programs are evaluated on a range of
criteria, including innovation, feasibility and demonstrated need.

“Symetra is proud to act as a catalyst for innovative programs that
benefit community schools. ‘Learning through the Lens of Equity’
helps meet a critical need in a positive, proactive way. We believe that
by promoting a classroom environment that embraces diversity, everyone
benefits,” said Sharmila Swenson, AVP, Public Affairs at Symetra.
“Together with the Chicago Bears, we applaud educators like those at
Jefferson Junior High who are supporting inclusion, equity and
excellence for all students — they are the true MVPs.” Swenson and
Symetra Community Relations Assistant Director Tracy Wort presented the
award to Jefferson Junior High School Principal Justin Warnke.

About “Learning through the Lens of Equity”

“Learning through the Lens of Equity” hopes to address inequities
in access and resources for underserved student communities. Jefferson
Junior High identified a student achievement gap between African
American, Latino, Asian and white students, with white students
significantly outperforming their African American and Latino peers in
all assessed subject areas. “Learning through the Lens of Equity”
will promote literacy and ensure that all students can culturally relate
to a character in a book they are assigned to read. Supplying students
with culturally diverse text sets where students can see themselves
increases student engagement in reading and so builds capacity to
process text in all subject areas. By enhancing student engagement,
connecting students to literature, increasing the level of questioning,
and promoting critical thinking through rigorous classroom discussion
techniques, “Learning through the Lens of Equity” will help
increase student performance on school-based, local and standardized

About Symetra Heroes in the Classroom®

Symetra has partnered with the Chicago Bears on the teacher-recognition
program since 2010, honoring 144 area teachers to date. The company
established Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® in its Pacific
Northwest hometown in 2006, has recognized 600 teachers nationwide and
contributed more than $1 million to schools for classroom books,
supplies, and in support of student programming.

Symetra Heroes in the Classroom are recognized in front of their
students and peers at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive
a $2,000 donation from Symetra for classroom books and supplies. In
addition, they receive tickets to a Bears home game and are acknowledged
during an on-field presentation at Soldier Field.

Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or
student’s parent. The winners are selected based on their ability to
make a real difference in students’ lives; to go above and beyond in
their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life
skills. More information about Symetra Heroes in the Classroom is
available at

About Symetra

Symetra Financial Corporation is a diversified financial services
company based in Bellevue, Washington. In business since 1957, Symetra
provides employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a
national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and
independent agents and advisors. For more information, visit


Diana McSweeney
(425) 256-6167

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Input your search keywords and press Enter.