ING Awards $240,000 to U.S. Teachers in the 2003 Education's Unsung Heroes Program

November 17, 2003 Tampa, FL Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

ING today announced that Jennifer Wise, a middle school teacher in Tampa, has been recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators in its 2003 Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards program. As the grand prize winner, Wise and her school, Dorothy Thomas Center Middle School, were awarded $27,000. The award was made at the school in conjunction with National Education Week, Nov. 16-22.

Wise was chosen from a field of 100 winning programs in the Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards program, which is presented by ING. The program recognizes kindergarten through 12th grade educators nationwide for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and ability to make a positive influence on the children they teach. Each winning program received a $2,000 grant. Three teachers were chosen for larger awards. In total, ING awarded $240,000 throughout the country.
Wise won the honor for her "Kids and Canines" program that teaches truant, at-risk middle school students life skills such as commitment, flexibility, creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and the rewards of giving back to the community.

"We strongly believe in supporting our nation’s educators, both in their professional and personal lives," said Bill Jasien, Senior Vice President of ING U.S. Financial Services. "One of the great joys we experience in our work with teachers is seeing these remarkable programs first-hand."

Begun five years ago, the "Kids and Canines" program pairs at-risk students with golden retriever puppies that they train over a two-year period and are responsible for the animal’s daily care, training and socialization. At the end of the two years, the dogs are given to individuals with physical disabilities in the Tampa Bay area. Students work with these individuals to match them with the best dog for their needs and they help the dogs transition to their new owners.

In addition to benefiting the disabled community by providing them with assistance dogs, perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the program is that students who have taken part in "Kids and Canines" show a marked increase in their regular school attendance and an increase in their reading level and math scores. Wise said she plans to use the grand prize to acquire appropriate transportation that will allow all students to participate in socialization trips as part of their assistance training.

"There are so many teachers today who consistently go above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. They are creative, focused and innovative in their teaching strategies and in how they engage students," Jasien added.

"Jennifer is the Kids and Canines program," said Principal Lee Cheshire. "Kids and Canines is a totally unique program that has given many of these students a new lease on life."

Second and third place honors in the 2003 Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards went to:

  • Second place: David Knight of Heath Springs, S.C., for his program, "Learn TV." The project is a broadcast journalism class where high school students work with adults to create programming for the government access channel. Knight and Lancaster High School were awarded $12,000.
  • Third place: Emily Glodowski of Weirton, W.Va., for the "ABILITIES Newsletter," which brings together mainstream students and those with moderate mental disabilities to create a school newsletter using a variety of technology equipment. Glodowski and Oak Glen High School in New Cumberland, W. Va., were awarded $7,000.

ING initiated the Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards in 1995 as a reflection of its commitment to the educational community. Now in its eighth year, the program has awarded nearly $2 million to more than 700 educators across the United States.

About ING

ING Groep N.V. (NYSE: ING) is one of the largest integrated financial services companies in the world, providing insurance, banking, and asset management products. The company strives to provide an innovative, client-focused approach to its financial products and services through strategic global distribution channels. In the U.S., ING offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients that includes retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, life insurance, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. Currently, ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves over 14 million customers across the nation. Globally, ING serves over 65 million private, corporate, and institutional clients throughout 60 countries. For more information, visit

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