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Issaquah Middle and Tiger Mountain teachers honored as Heroes in the Classroom

Liz Villa and Lane Helgeson win up-close Seahawk experiences and $1,000 for schools

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Seattle Seahawks in partnership with Symetra Financial Corporation honored Issaquah Middle School’s Liz Villa and Tiger Mountain Community High School’s Lane Helgeson as “Heroes in the Classroom” in October.

The duo is among 24 teachers across the Puget Sound area who will be honored for educational excellence during the 2012 NFL season. Winners are recognized in front of their students at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive a $1,000 donation for classroom books and supplies. In addition, they receive tickets to a Seahawks home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation at CenturyLink Field. The selection criteria include a teacher’s 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.

Villa and Helgeson were recognized at the Oct. 14 game when the Seahawks beat the New England Patriots.

In her nomination of Villa, Issaquah Middle principal Corrine DeRosa said:

Liz Villa works with our self-contained special needs students, taking care of the needs of a diverse group of students each day. She works hard to make sure each of their individualized plans is followed closely, providing the best environment and education possible for these students. She also manages several adult educational assistants who help in the classroom. Together, she and her team work miracles for our most fragile students.

Meeting the divergent needs of all of her students is Liz’s primary concern. Some students are able to integrate into general classes, while others are better served in her classroom. She has been able to introduce just the right amount of rigor into their individual programs, which has helped each student make gains and meet their yearly goals. Liz has helped students with behavior problems find better ways to express themselves. She works with students who might need occasional home visits because they are confined to home by their disability, with those whose cognitive levels are very low as well as those who have higher cognitive levels. Her task is huge, and she is absolutely dedicated to each child.

In his nomination of Helgeson, Tiger Mountain principal Michael Schiehser said:

Tiger Mountain Community High School is the Issaquah School District’s only alternative school, whose students have a variety of specialized needs. Our diverse student population gets its strong sense of community through a shared common goal: to attend a school where student well-being and achievement are paramount and to achieve a high school diploma. Lane Helgeson first cares for his students and nurtures them as human beings.  Second, he teaches them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed beyond high school.

Lane teaches eight different courses each day and personalizes education for each student in his classes. He also masters the balance between having exceptional relationships with his students and holding high expectations. By holding those high expectations and respecting his students as people, he wins their trust and helps them achieve at high levels. In addition, Lane’s roles as the school's webmaster, technology support liaison and advisory program coordinator, as well as his leadership during faculty and committee meetings, make him a deserving candidate for this recognition.

More information about Heroes in the Classroom is online at www.SymetraHeroes.com/Seahawks.

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