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.
Jennifer Suskovich and Ike Strege (2018)Fishers, IN
Suskovich’s and Strege’s innovative teaching idea, “Light My Class With Solar Energy,” encourages students to use their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) knowledge in a “real-world” application. With the Voya grant, Suskovich and Strege will be able to maximize the amount of time that their classroom can be powered using solar energy. Students involved in the project will use an engineering design process to work collaboratively to create solar tracking prototypes, test and redesign their systems. Using mathematical knowledge, they will also be able to determine the proper placement of solar panels throughout the day in order to receive the maximum amount of sunlight in the classroom. The students will also be able to collaborate with the art department to ensure the designs of the solar panels are aesthetically pleasing on the school’s grounds.
Kim Clark (2018)Hoyt, KS
Clark’s innovative teaching idea, “Lights, Camera, AGtion,” focuses on providing the tools, resources and technology for the students of Royal Valley High School to create videos about agriculture. Students involved in the program will have an opportunity to showcase the importance of agriculture to the local Hoyt community, county, state, and potentially country. The current library of resources within the school are limited, but with the Voya grant, Clark will be able to provide better technology and more resources so students can continue to make more videos to better inform the public about agriculture. Through higher quality video, students will also be able to further engage their creations on social media, reaching a larger audience to help the students showcase their video creations.
Lisa Cain (2018)Bardstown, KY
Cain’s innovative teaching idea, “Action! Ready, Set, Read!,” focuses on increasing reading comprehension of struggling students at Bardstown Primary School. Cain recognizes the importance of detecting comprehension impairments in primary grades, and has designed a “reader’s theater” to identify the specific grammar and decoding areas of opportunity for each student. Through this project, students will attain specially designed scripts that address language disorders and reading difficulties, as well as gain confidence through becoming engaged, proficient readers. The project is specifically designed to link the isolated strategies taught by Speech Language Pathologists to those of teachers. The students’ performances will be shared with friends, classes, the school and families at a celebration of reading.
Jessica Elliott (2018)New Castle, KY
Elliott’s innovative teaching idea, “The Roots of STEM,” focuses on helping the families of students at Henry County Middle School feel supported and become further engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities with their children. With the Voya grant, Elliot will create a system of backpacks packaged with complete STEM projects that engage families in the school community and provide affordable activities to replicate at home. Elliott hopes that this project will encourage students to be both the student and teacher for their families as they cultivate a deeper knowledge of concepts learned during science class. Each unit will change and span from astronomy to robotics and chemistry as Elliott will challenge her students to engage their families in an interactive science lesson.
Josh Underwood (2018)Maysville, KY
Underwood’s innovative teaching idea, “Making Music With Science,” focuses on teaching students about the science of waves and sound through the creation of musical instruments. Students involved in the project will construct their own pipe instruments, which will use sound sensors to gather data and analyze sounds from the pipes. This data will be used to calculate the lengths of each pipe needed to create the various pitches for the songs the students will play. This exercise will connect physics, math, and music together. The incorporation of music is not new to physics, but what makes this project unique is providing the students with a choice in songs to then create instruments to fit accordingly. Underwood believes the real learning will take place in the building of the instruments.
Lacey Hoosier (2018)Deville, LA
Hoosier’s innovative teaching idea, “STEM & Medicine for Rural Kids,” focuses on exposing rural, underprivileged students to vital Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and medical anatomical topics. To ignite an interest in these relevant subjects, students in grades 9-12, along with rotations of students in grades 6-8, will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on STEM labs, anatomy and physiology based lessons, robotics and Science Bowl team competitions. With the Voya grant, Hoosier plans to purchase the necessary school supplies to begin building a strong science program that will spark excitement in the next generation of scientists and doctors. Through exposure to the medical field and disorders of the human body, Hoosier hopes to broaden the knowledge-base and increase the confidence of her students.
Christine Ahern (2018)Uxbridge, MA
Ahern’s innovative teaching idea, “Coping for Life,” focuses on creating a directly usable and sustainable curriculum around stress management, in collaboration with the Uxbridge High School health department. Recent surveys of the school’s students show that they are overwhelmed from anxiety, depression, and stress. With support from the Voya grant, students will be provided a variety of tools, equipment, and hands-on activities to enable targeted mindfulness and stress management practices which take place in the classroom. Ahern envisions extending the Voya grant even further by having her students create their own stress management toolkit, share resources on their school website and collaborate on the school’s bi-annual health and wellness fair so all students can hone their coping skills.
Tasha Greenwood (2018)Jamaica Plain, MA
Greenwood’s innovative teaching idea, “Ocean Drifters,” focuses on enabling students to become the ocean scientists that they have read about, building and deploying their own oceanographic instruments. Students involved in the project will learn about ocean circulation and modeling via flotsam and jetsam and ultimately deploy marine drifters that are equipped with GPS. Through a series of labs and explorations, students will focus on physical oceanography. They will develop engineering skills and propose research questions using the transmitter’s data. Students will also have an opportunity to form connections by talking about data collection with local scientists. With the support of the Voya grant for this program, students will also have the opportunity to engage in the project with a nearby school that sent out a drifter from an East coast location.
Mallory Newcomer (2018)Glen Burnie, MD
Newcomer’s innovative teaching idea, “Travel the World,” focuses on introducing authentic learning experiences by pairing English-speaking students in Spanish classes with Spanish-speaking students in English as a second language (ESL) classes. Through this collaboration, students will choose countries and places of interest to create virtual field trips using technology-enabled expedition goggles. Once the preferred location is chosen, students will research the different cultural and heritage sites throughout the world to present during Hispanic Heritage month. With the Voya grant, Newcomer hopes students will obtain a common language experience and unite to collaborate on a common goal.
Deidre Rabuck (2018)Baltimore, MD
Rabuck’s innovative teaching idea, “Fairmount News Station,” focuses on giving the students at Kennedy Krieger Lower Middle School who have learning, behavioral, and physical disabilities the opportunity to write, produce, and star in the school’s morning announcement “news series.” With a goal of mirroring an authentic, local news broadcast, students will create the content of the show, prepare written scripts, create background scenes, record the broadcast and deliver the finished newscasts to each of the school’s classrooms. With the Voya grant, Rabuck will create the on-campus news station, an engaging and interactive vehicle for students to move outside of their comfort zones, work cooperatively, and master a variety of new skills.