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 The California Casualty Academic Award was created to help defray costs that educators pay for classrooms and other instructional materials. A recent survey found public school teachers spent $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies and gear in the 2012-2013 school year, with each teacher averaging $500 of their personal money.

The latest California Casualty Academic Award winner is California teacher Michelle Ruxton, who received her Academic Award check Thursday, January 16, 2014. Her name was randomly selected from more than 15,000 entries from across the nation.

Ms. Ruxton is in her second year at John Gill Elementary School, in Redwood City, California, where she teaches 5th grade.  She says she will use the money to invest in a Smart Board projection system to enhance the education experience of her students by integrating lessons with fun and engaging multi-sensory curriculum.

Ruxton says she has spent more money than she cares to admit on supplies for her students and classroom. “Thank you for the award! My class and I are ecstatic,” she said.

Previous Academic Award winner, Atwater, California, high school teacher Elaine Tam, is using her California Casualty Academic Award money to fund a bus trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and for school room supplies. Heidi Fortney, kindergarten teacher in Sycamore, Ohio, bought iPads for her students to use.

“California Casualty, which has 63 years of ties to public education, wants to help educators in their tireless work to educate our children. This is just one small way we can say ‘thank you’ for the dedication and sacrifice made daily on the job”, said Vice President Mike McCormick.

Entries are now being taken for the next Academic Award contest, with the winner announced April, 2014. Eligibility requires membership in the AEA, CTA, NEA (National Education Association), or referred by a current member of the state NEA affiliate or one of our other participating educator associations including: ACSA, CASE, COSA, KASA, NASA, UAESP or UASSP. Complete rules and information can be found at www.calcasacademicaward.com.

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