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March 18, 2014

Aki Kurose Middle School Wins $10,000 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom ‘MVP Award’

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Symetra and the Seattle Seahawks have awarded Aki Kurose Middle School with the 2013 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® “MVP Award.” Located in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, the school will use the $10,000 grant to fund an innovative student achievement program focused on building math skills.

The winning program, called “Building Math Muscles,” was announced at a March 14 luncheon at CenturyLink Field celebrating all 16 Puget Sound-area Symetra Heroes in the Classroom winners from the 2013 NFL season. Aki Kurose Principal Mia Williams was on hand to receive the $10,000 check from Jim Pirak, Symetra senior vice president, Marketing, and Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks vice president, Community Relations and Special Projects. Williams was joined by Alison Torres, a Mathematics instructor at Aki Kurose and a 2013 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom recipient.

“At Aki Kurose Middle School, we joyfully serve 750 wonderful students in the heart of Seattle’s Rainier Valley, one of Washington’s most diverse neighborhoods. We are keenly aware of the needs our students bring to school and absolutely believe we can positively impact the trajectory of their lives through a great educational experience,” said Mia Williams, principal at Aki Kurose. “Many students not yet at grade-level in math need support to develop their foundational skills. They need more math time during the school day, in smaller class sizes designed to meet their individual needs and skill gaps. The “Build Math Muscles” program will help advance student achievement by providing greater access to standards-based curriculum and through an improved ability to deliver math at a student’s ‘just-right’ level.”

The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program honors K-12 teachers for educational excellence throughout the NFL football season. Each of the 16 Puget Sound-area schools with a teacher/Hero is eligible to submit an MVP Award proposal. Nominated programs are evaluated on a range of criteria, including innovation, feasibility and demonstrated need.

About “Building Math Muscles”
In the “Building Math Muscles” program, students who arrive in middle school with learning gaps will receive extra support and the opportunity to develop their foundational math skills while still receiving grade-level, standards-based instruction. Using one of three curriculums (Saxon 4, Saxon 5 or I CAN Learn), students are provided extended in-school learning time through a second daily math class for two semesters. In I CAN Learn, content is delivered through an individualized web-based program that adapts to student needs to help fill gaps in student understanding. Students receive lessons and pass quizzes to achieve mastery. Saxon is a spiraling curriculum that continually blends newer and older concepts so that students receive multiple opportunities to practice and master their foundational skills. Lessons emphasize student number sense and frequent practice of older and newer skills to promote success.

About Symetra Heroes in the Classroom®
Since 2006, more than 180 Puget Sound-area teachers have been honored as Symetra Heroes in the Classroom. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations. They receive tickets to a Seahawks home game, where they are acknowledged during on-field presentations at CenturyLink Field. In addition, Symetra makes a $1,000 donation to each teacher Hero’s school for classroom books and supplies. 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. For more information about the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program, visit

About Symetra
Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE: SYA) is a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Wash. 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

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Diana McSweeney
(425) 256-6167 

Suzanne Lavender
Seattle Seahawks
(425) 203-8024  


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