Symetra, a Bellevue, Wash.-based financial-management firm, had people like Aurora Latifi and Dulcinea Garcia in mind when it conceived its “Heroes in the Classroom” program to recognize exceptional teachers who go the extra mile for their students.
In Chicago, Symetra’s “Heroes” program is a joint venture with the Chicago Bears.
And for the second time in three years, a Bears party including Chairman George McCaskey was at Leo to salute a Leo faculty member as a Hero in the Classroom: Ms. Garcia, Leo’s second-year Spanish teacher, was recognized at an assembly on Dec. 6, joining Ms. Latifi, the unquestioned star of Leo’s math department, who received the award in 2014.
“With her uplifting manner and positive energy, Ms. Garcia is the perfect fit for the title of ‘Symetra Hero,’ “ Leo senior Christian Armstrong wrote in a nominating letter. “No matter the situation, Ms. Garcia is bright, optimistic and burning with passion for the job she sacrifices so much for.
“Whether it’s spending her free time helping a struggling student or paying for equipment with her own money, the dedication and sheer willpower she brings to school all day, every day is inspiring.”
Ms. Garcia received a Bears jersey with her name on the back, along with two tickets to the Dec. 18 Bears-Green Bay Packers game, where she will be recognized with a video-board salute. A $1,000 check from Symetra for classroom supplies and equipment also came with the award.
“Ms. Garcia understands that learning a new language can be a difficult wall to overcome,” Armstrong wrote. “She cleverly uses her own experience with the English language to connect with her students and facilitate their understanding of the Spanish material. Her style of teaching is fresh and innovative.”
That’s two winners of the Heroes in the Classroom award in three years for the Leo faculty. Both honorees are delightfully bright, energetic women who think nothing of traveling into a challenging neighborhood each day and spending long hours sharing their wisdom with eager young students.