Shorewood high school teacher Colleen Kiyonaga honored as “Symetra Hero in the Classroom”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

From left: Shorewood teachers Colleen Kiyonaga; Mark Owen; Jill Owen and Paul Villanueva.
Photo courtesy Symetra

Symetra and the Seattle Seahawks celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® teacher-recognition program, hosting an April 29 luncheon at CenturyLink Field honoring the 16 Puget Sound-area teachers recognized for educational excellence during the 2015 NFL season.

Among the honorees was Shorewood High School’s Colleen Kiyonaga.

The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program recognizes teachers in front of their students and peers at in-school presentations, and they receive a $1,000 donation for classroom books and supplies.

Ms. Kiyonaga was presented with her Heroes award during a surprise classroom presentation last October. She was nominated by colleague Wendy Jordan, who wrote, “Colleen Kiyonaga fosters a classroom culture of respect and tolerance. She teaches what she loves—food and culture. 
"By sharing her own Japanese-American heritage, she encourages students to explore and share their own cultures. The result is a collaborative teaching style that is empowering.”

Heroes honorees also receive tickets to a Seahawks home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation at CenturyLink Field. Ms. Kiyonaga attended the Seahawks’ Oct. 18, 2015 match-up against the Carolina Panthers.

Also welcomed at the program’s milestone anniversary festivities at CenturyLink Field were past ‘MVP Award’ winners, including Shorewood’s Jill Owen and Paul Villanueva. Both Owen and Villanueva were honored in 2010 as Symetra Heroes; together, they went on to write a proposal for a “Sea 3D” program, which won a $10,000 MVP Award grant

(Every school with a Symetra Hero in the Classroom recipient in a given program year is eligible to submit an MVP Award proposal. Nominated programs are evaluated on a range of criteria, including innovation, feasibility and demonstrated need.)

  Seattle Seahawk DeShawn Shead (#35) greets Colleen Kiyonaga
 in the Seahawks locker room
Photo courtesy Symetra

The April 29 event was held in “the CLink’s” Verizon Lounge, which offered both a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the field and an unexpected peek at a Seattle Sounders practice session. The reception was followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium, including a stop in the Seahawks locker room, where each teacher discovered a personalized locker. Inside were a copy of the Seattle Times ad honoring them, a commemorative 2015 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom booklet and Seahawks items.

  Colleen Kiyonaga tries on Seattle Seahawk DeShawn Shead’s Super Bowl ring
Photo courtesy Symetra

Seattle Seahawk DeShawn Shead (#35) made a surprise appearance -- signing autographs, posing for photos and sharing his Super Bowl XLVIII ring with each teacher.

Learn more about Symetra Heroes in the Classroom or how to nominate a teacher here.


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