Atlanta Falcons Honor Stephanie Hestad of Eastvalley Elementary As “Symetra Hero In The Classroom”

Stephanie Hestad, Kindergarten teacher at Eastvalley Elementary, was honored as a “Symetra Hero in the Classroom,” a program to recognize outstanding educators helmed by the Atlanta Falcons, Symetra Financial and SunTrust Bank! Representatives from all three organizations joined the Eastvalley student body and staff for a surprise assembly for Ms. Hestad. She received a $1,000 donation for classroom books and supplies and tickets to the Sept. 18 Falcons game, where Ms. Hestad will be acknowledged before the home crowd in Atlanta!

“Eastvalley Elementary has a magical secret in their midst that empowers kindergarten students to have an academic, social and cultural edge beyond their parents’ wildest dreams — and her name is Stephanie Hestad,” said Carolyn Polakowski, a parent who nominated Hestad for the Symetra Hero in the Classroom award. “For more than a decade, Mrs. Hestad has created passionate scholars, enthusiastic readers, animated mathematicians and song masters among her population of five- and six-year-olds.”

Creative learning is a hallmark of Hestad’s teaching style. For a space and astronomy study unit, she dressed in a full NASA flight suit, staying in character throughout multiple lessons taught from a specially created classroom space station. Hestad engages local business and civic leaders for an annual “City Day,” in which the school cafeteria is transformed into a town complete with retail shops and businesses. Students get to experience everyday activities like banking, mailing a letter or visiting the doctor.

“Stop any parent in the car pool line and ask about Mrs. Hestad,” adds Polakowski. “Everyone has a fabulous story to share about how their child and their entire family has benefited from this remarkable woman, who sets a new standard for teaching excellence in our school community.”

Ms. Hestad is one of 16 teachers throughout the state that will be named “Symetra Heroes in the Classroom” during the 2011 NFL season.