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West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented a cash award to a Putnam County teacher today as part of the 2017 SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest.

Lori Perry, a teacher at Rock Branch Elementary School, accepted the check for $2,500 from Treasurer Perdue during an assembly in the school gymnasium. Perry is the teacher winner in the contest, which has both one statewide teacher winner and several regional student winners. Last month, 15 elementary school students were recognized as regional winners. The annual SMART529 contest invites students in kindergarten through fifth grade to write about what they want to be when they grow up. The teacher portion of the contest encourages educators to write about how they plan to use the contest as a learning tool in the classroom.

“We rely on teachers to emphasize the importance of saving for higher education. I am thrilled to we are able to reward one of them for making a special effort to encourage students to think beyond high school,” said Perdue.

In addition to the $2,500 teacher prize, each regional student winner received $500 invested in a SMART529 college savings account and each student’s school received a $500 cash prize. Out of the regional winners, one grand prize student winner was randomly selected to receive a total of $5,000 invested in a SMART529 account.

The winning entries were selected by an independent panel of judges based on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.

The When I Grow Up student and teacher essay contests are sponsored by the SMART529 College Savings Program, The Hartford and the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office to promote awareness of SMART529 and the need for high education savings.

For more information on the contest, log onto or

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West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
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