Congratulations to all of our Voya Unsung Heroes winners. Each year, 50 finalists receive $2,000 while three of them are selected as Top Winners to receive additional grants of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000. You can find winners for your state or for a specific year using the controls below.

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Rachel Marrow (2020)

Little Rock, AK
eStem East Village Elementary School

Marrow’s innovative teaching idea, “Block Play,” focuses on providing elementary students with access to black play. Dating back to the 1960’s blocks have proven to have positive outcomes in student play, social/emotional, and academic development and growth. eStem East Village Elementary School has been looking for ways to incorporate play into its current curriculum and the “Block Play Project” helps to meet that goal. Through this project, Marrow hopes to build more social and emotional aspects into STEM subjects and classrooms, especially at the younger grade levels.

Trudy McMullen (2020)

Anchorage, AK
Lake Hood Elementary School

McMullen’s innovative teaching idea, “S.T.E.M. Station Rotation,” focuses on hands-on learning experiences through the use of four S.T.E.M. stations: virtual reality sets, Sphero robots, 3-D pens and Chromebooks. Through these stations students will have immersive geographical experiences, create innovative engineering projects, utilize technology codes and create multi-media presentations. The project is suited for students of all learning styles and curriculum levels. Through this project, McMullen hopes to enhance student engagement.  

Misty Turner (2020)

Coker, AL
Westwood Elementary School

Turner’s innovative teaching idea, “Reaching All Learners,” focuses on equipping her classroom with new materials and research-based learning materials for customized student lesson plans that will engage her students’ unique learning styles. The Voya grant will be used to provide resources that will aide in classroom setup, minimizing the materials that students will have to manage and research-based tools that can be used during instruction Through this project, Turner hopes to reach all learners in ways that are most effective for them, by designing and delivering lessons that peak interest and maintain attention.

Caleb Clinkingbeard (2020)

Oro Valley, AZ
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy

Clinkingbeard’s innovative teaching idea, “Circle of Life Composting,” focuses on a student-initiated, student-led, school-wide composing effort. Middle school students will be provided with the tools and materials to build a fifteen-foot long, three sectioned, aerated static pile composter. The composter, which will have a student designed automatic watering system, will be used to grow a food garden that will supply fresh fruits and vegetables for the school kitchen. The leftover meal scraps will then be composted in order to continue the cycle.

Dominique Evans (2020)

La Crescenta, CA
Clark Magnet High School

Evans’ innovative teaching idea, “Drones & The Science of Where,” focuses on using drones, a multispectral sensor and virtual reality to prepare students for STEM careers. The resources will be used for three Career & Technical Education (CTE) classes to fuse academic knowledge of geologic processes, GIS mapping and analysis. Some students will immerse themselves into the role of an emergency manager, performing risk assessments, loss estimations and loss mitigation for public safety and others will form teams to work collaboratively to identify an environmental issue and create an action plan to address it. The Voya grant will be used to purchase drones and sensor and VR headsets for each class to integrate into student mapping projects “Drones & The Science of Where” will be the first program of its kind in the career technical education geographic information systems pathway.

Scott Hudson, Jim Pitochelli, and Olivia Pipala (2020)

Fullerton, CA
Fullerton Union High School

Hudson and Pitochelli’s innovative teaching idea “Biology Engineering Arts Science and Technology (BEAST),” focuses on a STEAM-based Career & Technical Education (CTE) program in which students explore the roles the Arts and Sciences play in the Special Effects (SFX) of the film and theme-park industries. Teams of students will choose a historical person, research their lives and write and record a short speech of what they said or might have said in order to create a robotic version of this person. The “BEAST Program” will connect classroom learning to real-world careers and needed skills, including engineering, woodworking, welding, and 3D printing, as well as art skills such as drawing, sculpting, painting, mold-making, casting, and special effects makeup.

Ace Eckstein (2020)

Lafayette, CO
Peak to Peak Charter School

Eckstein’s innovative teaching idea, “QR Code Museum/Info Commons,” focuses on a redesign of the school’s library space to create a learning hub with a flexible teaching area for the school’s QR Code Museum. This support the library’s monthly interactive exhibit of posters with QR codes, which allows students to engage with various interdisciplinary themes such as environmental justice, gender equality and Black excellence. It will also provide resources to include more STEM-focused themes such as computer science and innovation in the QR Code Museums.

Jacqueline Thurston and David Carpenter (2020)

North Branford, CT
Totoket Valley Elementary School

Thurston and Carpenter’s innovative teaching idea, “Adventure Programming,” focuses on the school’s Project Adventure classes and camps, which partner after school enrichment with physical education. These classes and camps teach students life skills such as shared leadership, respectful collaboration, teamwork, negotiation and transcending comfort zones. The Voya grant will be used to take these classes and camps to the next level through the purchase and installation of new equipment to expand the elements of the Project Adventure classes and camps. Through this project, Thurston and Carpenter hope build the classroom community by enabling various classrooms to work together, socially and emotionally.

David Lattomus (2020)

Middletown, DE
St. Georges Technical High School

Lattomus’ innovative teaching idea, “Living Wall,” focuses on an urban farming method of growing an indoor garden. The “Living Wall” is an 8-channel vertical wall with reservoirs that distribute nutrient solution to the garden. All of the harvested produce will be used in the school’s full-service restaurant. Students will be actively involved in, and responsible for seeding, germinating and planting herbs and head lettuces into the wall to create a hands-on learning experience around growing produce and sustainable practices in agriculture.

Katelyn Kongable (2020)

Bartow, FL
Floral Avenue Elementary School

Kongable’s innovative teaching idea, “Vocational Project,” focuses invigorating special education students about learning while introducing them to skills related to a job that is attainable for them. Through the program, students will learn a different skill every quarter that is related to a different job. Field trips and classroom assignments will also be used to teach skills and reinforce the accessibility of the related trade. Kongable hopes to her students with a program that they will enjoy and that will motivate them to not only love learning, but to also give them the skills to learn a trade.

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