Congratulations to all of our Voya Unsung Heroes winners. Each year, 100 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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Carolyn Streets (2018)

West Haven, CT
Engineering and Science University Magnet School

Streets’ innovative teaching idea, “STEM ‘Vocabularians’,” focuses on introducing creative strategies to support students’ acquisition of vocabulary in the core subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The mission of the project is to help students acquire high and low-frequency STEM-specific vocabulary. Students involved in the project will partake in a school-wide culture of learning, improve reading proficiencies and engage in deciphering complex texts. With financial support of the Voya grant, Streets will be able to explore the impact of higher-level vocabulary on student achievement in the STEM subjects and will enable students to confidently apply that new vocabulary to produce their own scientific texts and to solve real-world problems.

Jacqueline Schlosser (2018)

Milford, Ct
Platt Technical High School

Schlosser’s innovative teaching idea, “STEAMy DNA,” focuses on creating a cohesive learning experience for the different subjects she teaches at Platt Technical High School. Students involved in the project will examine DNA extractions at a deeper level by running fragments through a gel electrophoresis, allowing them to compare banding patterns to determine relationships between various organisms and individuals. Students will also work in groups to solve various real-world problems through the use of gel electrophoresis and project-based learning, relating science and engineering. According to Schlosser, at a technical high school, exposure to biotechnology is extremely important as it is an up and coming discipline and many of the students at Platt Technical have a head start in trades, further enhancing this field. With the Voya grant, Schlosser will purchase the necessary materials to support this program.

Gail Morris (2018)

Newark, DE
Gauger-Cobbs Middle School

Morris’ innovative teaching idea, “InveSTEAMING for Success,” focuses on instilling financial and technological literacy in the next generation of leaders at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School. Morris recognizes that in today’s technology-driven world, students need to be quick adapters. In understanding the demand for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM)-related careers is steadily increasing; Morris hopes to help students increase their financial literacy skills and broaden their understanding of investing, retirement and debt. Through this project, students will choose a preferred career in the STEAM field, develop a financial plan accordingly and hypothetically invest in a mock stock market experience to learn the basic knowledge of investing. With the Voya grant, Morris will purchase materials for creating STEAM kits to support this exercise which will allow her students to gain a better understanding of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.  

Nancy Petrella (2018)

Wilmington, DE
Odyssey Charter School

Petrella’s innovative teaching idea, “Odyssey Through Art," focuses on teaching art history and studio art courses to a diverse group of high school students at the Odyssey Charter School. In the art history course, students will explore ideas by using critical thinking and analytical skills to learn about culture through art and architecture. Students involved in the project will learn to connect citizenship with art and their own ideas as they develop an understanding of ways that their generation will impact the future. In the Voya grant-funded studio art course, students will focus on pottery and sculpture as a connection to today’s culture and create a means for expressing modern ideas. These combined courses will connect the past to the present with the students' experiences to art and the future.

Scott Bawden (2018)

Orlando, FL
Wedgefield K-8 School

Bawden’s innovative teaching idea, “CubeSat Mission,” focuses on experimentation at the forefront of space technology. Students involved in the project will design a micro-satellite that will be launched annually into space and then recovered from one a local commercial launch rockets. The project will be conducted as an entrepreneurial enterprise where students will be able to work in teams on all facets of design, manufacturing, procurement, media, marketing, and finance. With the support of the Voya grant, Bawden will be able to witness the intersection of knowledge from the students “flight and space” class along with core math and science courses as students employ algebra and geometry in their design calculations.

Jimmy Gray, III, Natalie Nylund, Dana Wanek, Dena Badal, and Rachel Cato (2018)

St. Petersburg, FL
Westgate Elementary School

The team’s innovative teaching idea, “STEM Friday,” focuses on implementing new and exciting activities to expose Kindergarten students to coding and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), in order to build on those lifelong skills. According to the team, the students at Westgate Elementary enjoy using programmable coding floor robots, but there is currently only one available. With the Voya grant, the team is able to purchase more robots along with other types of STEM manipulatives for everyday use. The team’s aim is to create a “STEM Fridays” activity where the programs would be leveraged to enable students to work together on unique challenges, code on computers and use hands on manipulatives to explore with other students.

Tausha Reddick (2018)

Orlando, FL
Alternative Education - ORJDC

Reddick’s innovative teaching idea, “Creating a Working Library,” focuses on expanding exposure to books of different genres and reading levels for the students at the local juvenile detention center in Orlando, Fla. Reddick has found that immense progress is made on test scores and confidence when students have access to varied reading options. According to Reddick, for some, it proves to them that they can still succeed by attaining a high school diploma or a GED. With the Voya grant, Reddick will replace the current books that were once thrown out when the facility was renovated and will create a library that students can utilize in the future. She also hopes to establish a reading program to encourage collaborative learning and demonstrate strong reading habits to students.

Megan Stewart and Jennifer Zeveney (2018)

Jacksonville, FL
Oak Hill Academy

Stewart’s and Zeveney’s innovative teaching idea, “Giving Our Students a Voice,” focuses on alleviating communication for individuals diagnosed with Autism, as it can often be difficult for them to communicate effectively and efficiently with others. Throughout this Pragmatic Organizational Dynamic Display (PODD) project, language and vocabulary will be continuously modeled for students by aided language stimulation and PODD communication books. With the Voya grant, Stewart and Zeveney will be able to have books available throughout the classroom and school, allowing students to initiate and participate in broader communication with their peers and adults. Students will be encouraged to use PODD books on higher tech devices to increase their ability to become autonomous and competent communicators in a variety of environments.

Jeff Gallup (2018)

Ococee, FL
Ocoee High School

Gallup’s innovative teaching idea, “Student Voices Podcast,” focuses on unearthing powerful stories from each and every student at Ocoee High School. Students involved in the project will become familiar with all technical aspects of production and publicize the final content in hopes of unveiling universal truths about humanity. Through podcasting, students will not only have a means to create and communicate their story, but will also learn about narrative structures, biography, and overarching themes aligned with state curriculum standards. With the support of the Voya grant, Gallup hopes the student podcasts will serve as an instrument to connect, inspire, and ultimately empower fellow students and community members.

Tommie Gaines (2018)

Bradenton, FL
W.D. Sugg Middle School

Gaines’ innovative teaching idea, “Cyclone Cookers,” focuses on teaching the students at W.D. Sugg Middle School how to grow herbs and create healthy recipes. To help increase awareness of proper nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet, Gaines will plan to renovate the school’s current greenhouse to provide hands-on learning and growing experiences. With the Voya grant, Gaines will create this working greenhouse to enable students to grow vegetables and herbs for a school-wide plant sale, but also take their cooking demonstrations and produce on the road. Gaines hopes the knowledge and materials leveraged through this program will be used in cooking labs to demonstrate to students how to create and execute nutritious and affordable recipes for their families.