For Immediate Release
Contact: Robin Freese at 719-532-8440

Sycamore, OH Kindergarten Teacher Wins $2,500 California Casualty Academic Award


San Mateo, CA, April 12, 2013 . . . California Casualty has presented a $2,500 Academic Award to kindergarten teacher Heidi Fortney for her class at Mohawk Elementary School in Sycamore, Ohio. Fortney’s name was randomly selected from a pool of more than 11,000 entries from around the nation.

Fortney has never taught anywhere but at Mohawk, and only kindergarten. This is her 12th year. Her husband is a kindergarten teacher at the same school, and the couple teaches “side by side,” Fortney said. They grew up near each other but didn’t actually meet until they attended Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. The Fortneys have three daughters.

Heidi only vaguely recalls filling out a form to be considered for the award, but she was thrilled to accept the check from California Casualty during a presentation on Thursday at the Northwest Ohio Education Association Representative Assembly. She and her husband routinely spend out of pocket to ensure their students and classrooms are equipped for learning. How much? “Thousands,” she said.

Now she gets to contemplate how far she can stretch $2,500. “We’ve got four really old computers. Maybe I’ll replace them with four iPads. Or maybe some scissors, glue, and pencils. You can never have enough of those,” she added with a chuckle.

As education budgets continue to get chopped, teachers often spend personal funds to cover the costs of classroom materials and supplies. A recent survey by revealed that 91 percent of teachers report buying not just school supplies, but also food and personal care items for their students.

California Casualty, which has 62 years of ties to public education, wanted to give at least one educator some relief – and to thank him or her for the dedication and sacrifice made daily on the job, said Senior Vice President Doug Goldberg. The Academic Award contest was launched late in 2012 and because response was so strong, the company decided to make two additional awards later this year. “Teachers are usually our first heroes out in the world – even if we don’t realize it until later,” Goldberg added. “It’s good to be able to give back to them.”

Any qualified K-12 public school teacher currently residing in the United States can enter the Academic Award giveaway in a simple, one-step process at Eligibility requires membership in the NEA, CTA or AEA.

California Casualty is a 99-year-old policyholder-owned company headquartered in San Mateo, CA with service centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas. Learn more about its auto and home insurance for firefighters, peace officers, educators and nurses at