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Brock Coyle on Symetra Heroes: ‘They’re the important ones’

Posted Mar 20, 2015

The 2014 Class of Symetra Heroes in the Classroom was honored at CenturyLink Field on Friday. The event included a trip to the Seahawks’ locker room, where linebacker Brock Coyle gave them a heroes’ welcome.


No one gets into teaching to become a hero.

One who motivates, mentors and inspires, yes. But not a hero.

HEROES IN THE CLASSROOM

The following teachers were honored Friday at CenturyLink Field as the 2014 Class in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program:

Erica Eller, East Hill Elementary School
Ellen Ferrin, Challenger Elementary School
Elayne Grueber, Sammamish High School
DeAria Handugan, Chief Sealth International High School
John Herold, Meridian Park Elementary School
Michael King, Renton High School
Rathan Mahendran, Redmond Middle School
Kjell Mattson, Puesta del Sol Elementary School
Bill McMurray, Kellogg Middle School
Jonathan Moor, Denny International Middle School
Emily Morgan, Ben Franklin Elementary School
Susan Miller, Medina Elementary School
Tia Nguyen, Midway Elementary School
Melissa Norman, Maywood Middle School
Molly Oosterhof, Dimmitt Middle School
Chris Soethe, Hazel Valley Elementary School

That’s what made the event that took place at CenturyLink Field on Friday afternoon so special for 16 Puget Sound-area teachers who were honored in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program. And the locker room “desert” that followed the luncheon in the Coaches Loft, was just that – a sweet finishing touch.

“This is awesome,” said Emily Morgan, a second-year kindergarten teacher from Kirkland’s Ben Franklin Elementary School who was sporting a No. 25 Richard Sherman jersey – along with a large smile.

“I wish all my colleagues could experience this. It’s just so exciting and I feel really honored.”

And if Morgan and her fellow honorees weren’t feeling special enough after seeing their names above cubicles filled with mementoes in the locker room, Seahawks linebacker Brock Coyle was there as the guest speaker to remind them that they indeed are.

“What I want to say to you is, I know you all know what your job description is,” said Coyle, who made the team last year as a rookie free agent from the University of Montana. “You’re here for these kids and you teach these kids. But truly know and understand the impact you can have on young kids’ lives because truly with me, it’s the case.

“You guys are a huge influence in young people’s lives and, honestly, I look up to people like you because you guys are really the people who make the difference in the community and in life.”

Then there was Elayne Grueber, a former engineer turned teacher who was the biggest beneficiary in the group. Grueber teaches engineering at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, the school that was given the MVP award for 2014 – and the $10,000 that goes with it.

“I was an engineer for a long time, and I saw people shy away from it because they thought it was boring or dull,” said Grueber, an engineer for 10 years who’s in her third year of teaching. “So what I’m trying to do is bring engineering to life to students in high school and get then started on an engineering career.”

In baby steps. Grueber has 15 students this year working on a project. The grant from Symetra will allow her to expand the program to more of her classes, and therefore more students.

“What this means to me, this award that we won, is an opportunity to really bring engineering to life,” she said. “This money is going to go to funding projects that students will work on for other community partners. They’ll get to solve real problems for other people. And without this award that would have been much more difficult to being that to students.”

Coyle also shared the “secret” to his educational background with the Heroes, and what his teachers were able to bring to one student. He was born and raised in Bozeman and went to Bozeman High School before staying in town to continue his career – and education – at Montana.

“At first, as I was going through school, honestly it wasn’t as important to me. Sports were,” Coyle said. “But I had so many positive teachers in my life that truly helped me get to where I am today. And without them, I probably would not be here.

“In high school, I had teachers in my life who were positive and who would help me in school and really showed me how important education was. Freshman year, grades were so-so. Sophomore year, when I met teachers who cared about me and really wanted to see me succeed, my GPA started to go up, go up.”

The positive influences of his professors and teachers continued at Montana, where he majored in business.

“I graduated with a business marketing degree with a 3.5 GPA, and I was really proud,” he said.

That set off a hero’s welcome from the Heroes gathered around the second-year linebacker.

“We just play football,” Coyle said. “They’re the important ones. They’re a huge part of young men and women’s lives that help grow our society. For these teachers to kind of look up to me is an honor. So I definitely wanted to come and meet them and just tell them that they’re the important ones, that what they do in the classroom, how they educate our youth is very important and really cool.”

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