Hollywood Hill Elementary School Teacher Honored as ‘Symetra Hero in the Classroom’

Seattle Seahawk Neiko Thorpe smiles as Victoria Gray and principal Denise Waters high-five while holding a check.

Seattle Seahawk Neiko Thorpe looks on as Victoria Gray, middle, high-fives with principal Denise Waters.

Hollywood Hill Elementary School teacher Victoria Gray was honored as a “Symetra Hero in the Classroom” on Tuesday by Symetra and the Seattle Seahawks. Neiko Thorpe, a cornerback for the Seahawks, was on hand to help present the award during a surprise assembly at the school in Woodinville, where Gray is a physical education teacher.

The “Hero” honorees 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. Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, a student or a student’s parent.

Seattle Seahawk Neiko Thorpe talks about education and praises Victoria Gray.

Seattle Seahawk Neiko Thorpe talks about education as he praises Victoria Gray.

Gray said she was honored to receive the award. Honorees receive a $2,000 donation to their school for classroom books and supplies.

“It’s all about the children,” said Gray, who has been with the school for 17 years as a teacher and now as a physical education instructor. “Anything that gives back to them makes me happy. That’s the part that makes me most excited about this. It’s what it will do for them.”

Children cheer when then award winner is announced.

Students gathered in Hollywood Hill's gymnasium to witness the award ceremony for Victoria Gray. They cheered and screamed when the award was announced.

Denise Waters, Hollywood Hill’s principal, nominated Gray for her leadership as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) coach. She said that as a PBIS leader, Gray is the one who sets the culture for the school.

“She is an amazing teacher and leader at our school,” said Waters. “As the program lead, she goes into other teachers’ classrooms to support them, talk with students and ensure that they are safe, respectful and responsible. The relationships that she builds with students in grades K–5 set them up to be successful in school and life.”

Waters added that Gray’s “presence is magical and a vital part of the work we do at Hollywood Hill to help each student achieve their potential.”

Superintendent Michelle Reid, Seahawk Neiko Thorpe, honoree Victoria Gray and principal Denise Waters holding a large check.

From left to right: Dr. Michelle Reid, Northshore School District Superintendent, Seattle Seahawk Neiko Thorpe, award winner and teacher Victoria Gray, Hollywood Hill principal Denise Waters.

Northshore School District Superintendent Michelle Reid joined Thorpe and Symetra Executive Vice President Michael Fry for the presentation.

“Mrs. Gray’s work on PBIS is important to every student and the school community, and I am thrilled that she’s being recognized for it,” said Reid. “The concept of PBIS has clearly taken root at Hollywood Hill, as was evident in the way all of the students interacted with Mrs. Gray, their peers and their teachers.”

Gray is one of 16 K–12 teachers across the Puget Sound area who will be honored for educational excellence in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program during the 2018 NFL season. In addition to the donation, teachers also receive tickets to a Seahawks home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation at CenturyLink Field. Gray will be recognized at the Dec. 23 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.