Miguel Juarez teacher honored as 'Hero in the Classroom'

Symetra and the Chicago Bears honored Miguel Juarez Middle School teacher Tracy Fuentes on Sept. 11 as a "Symetra Hero in the Classroom."

Chicago Bears Offensive Lineman Charles Leno, Jr. and Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey were on hand to help present the award during a surprise assembly at the Waukegan middle school, where Fuentes is an ESL/ESA instructor.

"Tracy Fuentes is passionate about her students and will go above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure that her English Language Learners are successful, both inside and outside the classroom," said Elvia Uriostegui, a district teaching colleague.

"Tracy has made an extraordinary difference in the lives of many students and their families in the Waukegan community. She establishes a trustworthy connection by consistently communicating and works hard to create opportunities for families to come in and take part in their child's learning.

"Even with four children of her own, Tracy still finds time to be an active learner who is always eager to research and apply new strategies to engage her students. She is a role model for all of us."

Uriostegui nominated Fuentes for the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom award.

Fuentes is one of 16 K-12 teachers in the Chicago area who will be honored for educational excellence in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program during the 2018 NFL season.

Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive a $2,000 donation from Symetra for classroom books and supplies. In addition, they receive tickets to a Bears home game, enjoy a pregame sideline experience and are acknowledged during on-field screened presentations at Soldier Field.

Fuentes will be recognized at the Sept. 30 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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.

Since 2006, Symetra Heroes in the Classroom has honored 568 K-12 teachers nationwide for educational excellence during the NFL regular season, and Symetra has contributed nearly $950,000 for school books, equipment and programming. The teacher-recognition program has celebrated more than 130 Chicago-area educators since 2010.

Each of the 16 Chicago-area schools with a 2018 teacher-Hero will be eligible to participate in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom MVP Award, a $20,000 education grant in support of innovative student programming.

Proposals will go out to eligible schools in early 2019 and the winning submission will be announced at a springtime event at the PNC Center at Halas Hall for the 2018 Heroes, their principals and school district leadership.

For more information about the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program, or to nominate a teacher, visit

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