ING Marks 10th Anniversary of Recognizing Most Innovative Educators with More Than $2.3 Million in Total Grants Nationwide

September 20, 2005 Atlanta, GA and Tampa, FL Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

ING today recognized Jennifer Wise, a teacher at Dorothy Thomas Center in Tampa, Fla. as the most noteworthy first place educator from the last 10 years of the ING Unsung Heroes awards program with a special $10,000 Best in Class prize for her “Kids and Canines” program. The surprise grant presentation was held in conjunction with a ribbon-cutting grand reopening celebration of the Kids and Canines facility at the school.

Over the past 10 years, the ING Unsung Heroes awards program has recognized nearly 1,000 K-12 educators nationwide with more than $2.3 million in grants for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and ability to make a positive influence on the children they teach. This year’s ING Unsung Heroes winners were selected from a group of nearly 1,100 educators.

Jennifer’s Kids and Canines program has had a dramatic impact on the lives of our students as well as members of the Tampa community,” said Principal Tony Giancola. “Many of these kids have troubled family lives, and not only has their well-being improved, but also the quality of their performance in school. We want to thank ING for its additional grant to help us continue the program for the years to come.”

With her original grant of $27,000 as the first place ING Unsung Heroes awards winner in 2003, Wise was able to expand her “Kids and Canines” program, where at-risk middle school truant students at Dorothy Thomas Center train golden retriever puppies to become assistance dogs for the physically disabled in the community. This one-of-a-kind program teaches its students responsibility, anger management, the importance of consistency and the value of patience in working not only with the dogs, but also interacting with other people.

Since its inception, the Kids and Canines program has resulted in improved attendance of participating students by 52%, better mathematics scores by approximately 39% and enhanced reading levels by 12% from an average grade level of 7.5 to 8.5. The expanded facility at the school includes physical renovations, a new litter of golden retriever puppies, custom grooming and health maintenance for the dogs.

The 2005 ING Unsung Heroes second and third place winners includesSecond place: Carol Burch of Hannibal High School in Hannibal, N.Y., for her “Wind or PV: What Should it Be?” program, which provides more than 150 ninth grade physics and environmental science students the opportunity to become hands-on researchers and engineers of two types of renewable energy generation systems, for potential use throughout the Hannibal school district. The students will research, design and construct a wind turbine and purchase and install a solar panel, and monitor both for electricity generation. Carol and Hannibal High School were awarded $12,000.

Third place: Alan Crawford and Kathleen Dyer of Rio Grande City High School in Rio Grande City, Texas for their “Voice of the Valley” literature program, in which more than 260 students will conduct interviews with local members of their community about their immigration experiences and transform the transcripts into a vivid, 300-page book of first hand accounts of the interviewees’ experiences. Crawford, Dyer and Rio Grande City High School were awarded $7,000.

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the ING Unsung Heroes awards program, where we celebrate and honor outstanding educators around the country whose work to pioneer new methods and teaching techniques is sometimes overlooked,” said Bill Jasien, senior vice president of ING U.S. Financial Services. “A good educational system is not only important to the future of this country, but also to that of America’s children. Our strong commitment to building a sound educational foundation through our awards program is part of ING’s responsibility as a member of America’s corporate community.”

Mr. Jasien added, “In honor of our 10th year, we are pleased to recognize Jennifer Wise as our Best in Class award winner for her success in driving impactful and tangible results for her students and the Tampa community.”

To learn about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes Web site at Applications for the 2006 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the Web site. You can also receive an application by calling 800.537.4180 or emailing

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About ING

ING Group is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance and asset management to more than 60 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 50 countries. With a diverse workforce of more than 112,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand.

ING is a leader in providing 403(b) plans to kindergarten through 12th grade educators and other employees of nonprofit organizations in America. 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 more than 14 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit