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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Sarah McMaster (2018)

Albuquerque, NM
Horizon Academy West

McMaster’s innovative teaching idea, “Fractions of Food,” focuses on integrating culinary arts with math in a delicious learning experience. The project will ask students to read recipes, measure and divide ingredients, collaborate in teams and focus on how nutrition can affect them individually. This project will not only bring the third grade and kindergarten classes together, but will allow families and community guests to demonstrate a favorite recipe and interact with the students. To hone math skills even further, McMaster’s recipe creation projects will advance to “purchasing” goods, challenging students to work with money. From memorable connection time to the mastery of fractions, McMaster hopes her project engages students through real-life mathematical and scientific inquiry, and fosters their social skills through collaborations and mentorship.

Jean Lee (2018)

Brooklyn, NY
International High School at Lafayette

Lee’s innovative teaching idea, “Silent But Not Voiceless Film,” focuses on creating a semester-long study and exploration of music, which can often be seen as a means for promoting political, social, and economic “justice”. Students engaged in the project will construct a silent film, complete with background music and title cards, that creatively summarizes their understanding of economic justice. With the Voya grant, Lee’s students will be able to play the roles of producer, director, writer, actor, and editor — providing an opportunity to participate in all parts of the filmmaking process. This will also include research, storyboarding, filming and editing. The final products will be showcased at a silent film festival, inviting parents, staff, students and other community members to watch and celebrate the final products.

Deirdre DeLoatch, Sumon Saha Roy, Chris Birke, and Patricia Gilkes (2018)

Brooklyn, NY
Cultural Academy for the Arts & Science

The team’s innovative teaching idea, “The Legacy of Henrietta Lacks,” focuses on creating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) interdisciplinary units in an innovative way to review traditional book text that can be brought to life. With the support of the Voya grant, students involved in the project at Cultural Academy for the Arts & Science will write poetry and conduct scientific research to explore cell culture, conduct debates, learn rhetorical analysis and write thematic essays about the historical era.

Benjamin Hunt (2018)

Cincinnati, OH
Mount Notre Dame

Hunt’s innovative teaching idea, “Operation Anzio,” focuses on teaching students to learn research skills, civic values and the history of World War II. These two key ideas will allow students to actively-research and discover the importance of historical methodology, which is important to stress the sacrifices of veterans in promoting good civic values. Students involved in the project will identify and research veterans from the local community. With the Voya grant, students will be able to print museum-style foam core panels to create a lasting exhibit and allow the exhibit to travel to schools and communities where the veterans were original located.

Gina Jasinoski (2018)

Cincinnati, OH
St. Bernard Elmwood Place High School

Jasinoski’s innovative teaching idea, “Daily Titan Production,” focuses on engaging students in a versatile music production class. Students engaged in the project have the ability to create, produce and edit video-based announcements every day for the entire school. Recognizing the importance of music and media to grow, communicate and empower, Jasinoski invented the project as a vehicle to impact the student body and broader community. With the Voya grant, Jasinoski will be able to acquire the proper equipment to teach her students the basics of movie and music editing. By advancing both creativity and critical thinking skills, and exposing students to multimedia early on, Jasinoski hopes to cultivate young leaders in an increasingly technology-focused age.

Angela Germano and Blanche Davidson (2018)

Perry, OH
Perry Middle School

Germano’s and Davidson’s innovative teaching idea, “Green Innovative Teaching,” focuses on developing a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based entrepreneurship project. Students involved in the project will learn about the potential for STEM careers through creating businesses with a product they are asked to make from locally grown plants. With the Voya grant, the necessary resources will be purchased to support the project. Students will apply for a "microloan" from the school to be able to grow materials in the greenhouse to then sell and learn about paying back the loan. This program will equip students with real-world business skills and career exploration opportunities for careers in such fields as agricultural science, communications, financial planning and website design.

Jessica Minard (2018)

Sylvania, OH
Northview High School

Minard’s innovative teaching idea, “Project Unify,” focuses on uniting individuals with developmental disabilities and their peers through the power of sports. With the Voya grant, Minard will work to launch a series of inclusive sporting opportunities for the students at Northview High School. Students involved in the project will gain valuable experience creating a vision for their goals, working in committees, taking ownership of tasks and learning about how to reflect and improve after each event. Through this project, Minard aspires to help build greater respect and appreciation for all individuals within the school’s community

Jason Anderson (2018)

Akron, OH
Archbishop Hoban High School

Anderson’s innovative teaching idea, “Music of the Revolution,” focuses on creating an educational program where the students at Archbishop Hoban High School spend a semester in museum studies to enable them to educate local elementary students about Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort. Students involved in the project will research the American Revolution and veterans through pension file research, and will go on to create biographies of each of them. This program not only focuses on all educational disciplines, but provides an outreach program to the community. With the Voya grant, students will use first-hand 18th century technology, observe medical care of the Revolution in their field hospital, visit General Washington’s headquarters, and more.

Becky Henderson, Carrie Boyd, Mikella Mims, and Chris Elliott (2018)

Ada, OK
Byng Elementary School

The team’s innovative teaching idea, “Makerspace in the Library,” focuses on creating a fun, exciting and innovative area in the library of Byng Elementary School, proving an opportunity for students to further grow, explore and learn. With the Voya grant, the creation of "Makerspace in the Library" will create new and meaningful opportunities for the students to branch-out from their daily curriculum in the regular classroom. Through hands-on activities and experiments, teachers will be able to engage students through the use of robotics, craft activities, and sewing. Students will also have the ability to discover new opportunities to grow personally.

Gloria Pereyra-Robertson, Sallie Johnson - Principal, Adriane Morejohn - School Media Specialist, and Ellie Kilishek (2018)

Medford, OR
Washington Elementary School

The team’s innovative teaching idea, “Diversity & Empathy Mindset,” focuses on teaching students to accept diversity in today’s society. With the Voya grant, the team will provide the students at Washington Elementary with the relevant books and technology that are necessary to address diversity and empathy issues and solutions. Using the power of words to increase awareness, specially designed lessons and activities centered on relevant diversity and empathy building will be taught based on a selection from the books. The team hopes that by building a diversified and empathetic mindset through literacy, students will be able to remove societal barriers and build relationships with all individuals, no matter their background.