ING Unsung Heroes® Previous Award Winners

Congratulations to all of our ING Unsung Heroes winners. Each year, 100 finalists receives $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.


  • Thunder Mountain High School
    Juneau, Alaska

    Northcutt’s winning program, “Engaging Digital Natives,” is designed to create virtual science labs and move educational technology up a rung towards the more popular social and gaming technology with which most familiar to students. The program will integrate digital inquiry-based science labs, online note-taking and provide daily opportunities for students to incorporate technology into their learning process. Success will be defined as the students’ abilities to use technology to improve their learning of science curriculum and note- taking strategies.


  • Lisa Clark
    Tuscaloosa County High School
    Northport, Alabama

    Clark’s innovative winning program, “Stretching Our Class Tentacles around the World,” is designed to expand Tuscaloosa County High’s existing marine biology program. In the current program, students utilize a salt water touch tank to monitor and survey tidal organisms. Students record their observations on a daily basis and videos are uploaded monthly highlighting the latest tank developments.

  • Brenda Levert
    Academy for Academics and Arts
    Huntsville, Alabama

    The winning program, “Community Gardens: Growing Knowledge and Compassion” was developed by Levert and her colleagues for students at the Academy for Academics and Arts. The purpose is to provide students in grades Kindergarten through eighth-grade to experience the joy of gardening with 21st century technology to enhance their learning experience. The first step of the program is to get students excited about gaining knowledge on how to maintain a thriving greenhouse.

  • Scott Nelson
    Baker High School
    Mobile, Alabama

    Nelson and his colleagues’ winning program, “Operation Interface: Mentoring Through Innovation,” is designed to have students use scientific methods to study, evaluate and ultimately protect an isolated wetland on the school’s campus. They want to improve student achievement by establishing a technology-driven environmental curriculum that will give students real-world experience. Students will use handheld computer interface devices with probes to test and evaluate parameters such as water, soil and organic qualities of the wetland.


  • Pattie Heitzman
    Bentonville High School
    Bentonville, Arkansas

    Heitzman’s winning program, “Outdoor Education,” is designed to help students who are at risk of not finishing high school. The program offers best practice alternative learning modules. The outdoor environment is a natural place to implement smaller class sizes, counseling, social skills training, and hands-on learning opportunities. Studies have shown that outdoor education programs result in greater motivation and engagement for ‘at-risk’ learners. By engaging the ‘at-risk’ student population, the hope is that there will be a corresponding increase in graduation rates.

  • Barbara Hall
    Pulaski Heights Elementary
    Little Rock, Arkansas

    Hall began “Go! Learn! Grow!” to have students gain a connection to the natural world and the food chain. Through her program, students will put into practice cooperation, creativity and innovation. She wants her students to become advocates for the environment, learn and appreciate the health benefits of fresh food and ultimately impact achievement through hands-on, project-based learning. By using math, literacy, science and social studies skills, students will grow vegetables and learn healthy eating habits and responsible gardening practices.


  • Mark Adams
    Ironwood High School
    Glendale, Arizona

    “Let the Sunshine Power Our Carts,” the winning program from Adams and English will enable more than 100 students to participate in building and installing a solar recharging power station for the electrical golf carts at Ironwood High School and a nearby elementary school. As an added benefit, the station will also be used to charge all of the needed portable tools. Industrial technology students, with the guidance of a local licensed contractor and the supervision of the teachers, will design, build and maintain the station.

  • Noelle Downs
    Sonoran Heights
    Surprise, Arizona

    In Downs’ winning project, “Building a Community,” first-grade students will be designing, constructing, running and evaluating small green communities. The project incorporates math, reading, writing, science, social studies and technology. Students will work in groups as architects and city planners to design a community. They must collaborate to design roads and decide what businesses and government buildings are needed and where houses and schools should be located in the community.

  • Shauna Hamman
    Four Peaks Elementary School
    Apache Junction, Arizona

    Hamman’s winning program, “Roadrunner Gaming,” engages students by teaching them to design their own video games. When playing, students are consumers of technology, using only basic critical thinking skills. Students will engage in a much higher level of thinking by designing the games themselves. The “Roadrunner Gaming” program will use Scratch programming software. Students will work in groups to design the games. To gain experience in a variety of design methods, students will create games for different platforms.


  • Brian Grigsby
    Shasta High School
    Redding, California

    Grigsby’s winning program, “Space Science & Engineering (Robotics),” is built around the fundamental understanding of the systems that make up robots and the development of workplace competencies. Grigsby’s program is part of a larger project that is designed to provide all students with opportunities for enhanced learning experiences, preparation for future career decisions, and a realistic view of the world of work. Through the program, students are gaining real-world experience by conducting data analysis using real scientific data from NASA spacecraft.

  • Thi Bui
    Oakland International High School
    Oakland, California

    Bui’s winning program, “A Nation of Immigrants,” is an oral history project for students at Oakland International High School. The students, who are in the 11th grade, are all English Language Learners and recent immigrants to the United States. Bui, who is teaching a computer class this year, is collaborating with a U.S. History teacher and a group of other teachers to enhance the U.S. History class through an interdisciplinary unit and multimedia project.

  • High Tech Middle North County
    San Marcos, California

    “Food for Thought” is Kessler’s winning program designed to allow students in the San Diego area to create their own gardens in small urban environments while learning the benefits of eating organic produce. With fruit testing turning up traces of pesticides, one way to help his students gain all the healthy benefits of eating fruits and vegetables is to help them grow their own. Kessler will help his students use different methods of organic gardening including soil gardening, hydroponic gardening and aquaponics.

  • Alexandria Lau
    Ambassador School of Global Leadership
    Los Angeles, California

    The purpose of Lau’s winning program, “Telling a Story that Changes Lives,” is to explore the roots of poverty and discover what action teens can take to overcome poverty in Los Angeles. Journalism students will partner with photography and film students to publish a newspaper, website and documentary on overcoming poverty in Los Angeles. Students will interview teens who are currently homeless to compare and contrast their lives to those of middle- and upper-class families.


  • Jaime Askvig
    Charles Hay World School
    Englewood, Colorado

    Askvig’s winning project, “Kids Love Drums,” aims to foster a creative learning environment for students. The sight, sound, power and feel of percussion instruments are tremendous motivators for many students. Having a full drum ensemble accessible to students will allow for an increased number and variety of activities. Because of budget cuts to the Music Education program, students currently have to wait one or two rotations before they get a turn on an instrument.


  • Gina Gallo Reinhard
    Bristol Central High
    Bristol, Connecticut

    Gallo Reinhard’s winning project, “I Burratini: The Strings of Language, Culture and Tradition,” aims to bring language to life for students at Bristol Central High. According to Gallo Reinhard, a gifted Italian and Spanish teacher, strings are used to attach, connect and intertwine. That is why her project uses the strings of puppets to interlace competency with culture, traditions and oral proficiency.

  • Sindhu Thomas
    Windsor High School
    Windsor, Connecticut

    In Thomas’ winning project “Forensic Science: Real-Life Experiences,” students will run a series of experiments that will utilize biotechnology techniques in a real-world scenario. To draw students in and create a real-world experience, a hypothetical situation in which a crime has been committed in the school will be staged. Students will be asked to complete a series of experiments to determine who committed the crime. As part of the crime-solving process, students will analyze blood-stain patterns and perform fingerprint comparisons.

District Of Columbia

  • Frances Evangelista
    Walker Jones Education Campus
    Washington, District Of Columbia

    Evangelista’s winning program, “Second Step: Social and Emotional Learning to Drive Student Achievement,” is a social-emotional and cognitive growth curriculum that harnesses the developmental power of empathy, emotion management, friendship skills and problem-solving across grade levels to best prepare students for academic achievement and success beyond the classroom.


  • Patty Knapp
    Brennen School
    Newark, Delaware

    “Get Ahead, Career Preparation” is Knapp’s winning program created to help students work on career building skills. Through the creation of a mini-computer lab armed with a computer, software and a printer, students will learn and practice basic computer operations by building resumes, filling out job applications and conducting desktop publishing and graphic design. They will also train to become Microsoft certified, create a webpage and learn graphic arts skills that motivate them and tie in their interests.


  • Sheli Gossett
    Cracker Trail Elementary
    Sebring, Florida

    “Window to the World of Science/Birdwatch and Outdoor Classroom” is Gossett’s winning program. It will give students a chance to observe wildlife in a natural setting and aid in the conservation of native bird species. According to Gossett, watching and caring for birds and plants develops an understanding and need to protect and restore the natural world. It will provide a sanctuary and feeding station for birds on the school grounds for students to achieve hands-on experience in observations, inquiry-based investigations and data collection.

  • Andrea Sturgell
    Highland Elementary
    Lake Worth, Florida

    Sturgell’s winning program, “Safe World Mural Project,” aims to transform Highland Elementary into a bright, welcoming and safe place for all students. The project will deliver a much needed infusion of life and color to the hallways of the school. The murals will showcase and celebrate the diversity of the student population. Students will be responsible for generating the ideas as well as sketching and painting portions of the mural. The project offers students a chance for expression through art – a therapy that is often overlooked and underrated.

  • Christopher Gates
    Broward Virtual School
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Gates and Wilson developed their winning program, “Bringing Environmentally Sound Transformation (B.E.S.T.),” as an 11-month study and conservation initiative on environmental issues and protection. Students in the program at Broward Virtual School will become advocates in protecting the landscape for birds, fish, animals and wildlife that depend on special habitats.


  • West Newton Elementary
    Covington, Georgia

    Clay and her colleagues’ winning program, “The B.L.A.S.T. Lab: Bringing Life and Sciences Together,” is an interactive lab, where students can participate in hands-on experiences and explore visual representations. It will be dedicated to science study and storing reusable and consumable lab materials. The lab will be stocked with a variety of materials and literature that will enhance the students’ science learning experience. The lab will also feature a computer station for research and the creation of a class newsletter and wiki.

  • William Schuyler
    Forsyth Central High
    Cumming, Georgia

    Schuyler’s winning new program, “Critical Thinking Development in Real World Biotechnology Issues,” was designed to develop students who not only have a firm foundation in relevant Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) content, but who are also able to think critically, while employing application as well. Students who participate in this project will gain advanced content knowledge through hands-on experiences that apply to real-world situations. Students will learn procedures such as DNA fingerprinting, bacterial transformation and protein purification.


  • Nancy Young
    Lahainaluna High School
    Lahaina, Hawaii

     Young’s winning “iPad Art History” program is designed to help students create their own art history web pages using Apple iPad technology. Students will be assigned an artist, art period or style to use as the focus for their individual webpages. They will research the subject and write a brief bio or history, including links to vocabulary-related material. The design of the web pages must reflect the mood and sensibility of the artists they are representing. The individual web pages will be compiled into a central website.


  • Kyle Bartels
    Woodbine Community School
    Woodbine, Iowa

    Bartels’ innovative new program, “Summer Fun Made from Plastic,” aims to educate fifth- and sixth-grade students at the Woodbine Community School about density, mass and movement using technology and recycled materials. Students will work in groups of three to design and construct boats out of recycled materials. They will have to use critical thinking skills and a trial and error approach to construct a boat that can hold at least three passengers.

  • Wings Park Elementary
    Oelwein, Iowa

    Druvenga’s winning program, “Technology Titans: Stomping Out Bullying!,” is designed to decrease acts of bullying. There are about 160,000 children that miss school every day out of a fear of being bullied. Third-grade students will create anti-bullying Public Service Announcements (PSAs) using Apple’s iMovie or an online movie making website such as or to persuade others to take a stand against bullying.


  • Michelle George
    Orofino Junior/Senior High School
    Orofino, Idaho

    When George developed her winning program, “Wonder Women and Real Men,” she wanted to inspire young boys to read more and young girls to gain more of an interest in math and science. Research indicates that girls in middle school often lose interest in math and science. At the same time, boys tend to stop reading recreationally. She started by inviting professional men from the community into her classroom to share their reading with her students. She also invited professional women working in the fields of math and science to come in and share their experiences with her students.

  • Horseshoe Bend High School
    Horseshoe Bend, Idaho

    Moore’s winning program, “Forging Ahead with Recycling: Taking Charge of Discards,” is an innovative program that will integrate community recycling with instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The project is based on the concept that many people have the potential for innovation but often lack the tools needed to turn their ideas into reality. By using a foundry to reuse discarded metal, students will use engineering design concepts to create an original project.


  • Arcadia School
    Olympia Fields, Illinois

    Stovall’s winning project, “Sensory Room for Elementary Students,” is designed to provide students with special needs a designated place to work on fine and gross motor skills, as well as activities that stimulate creativity, develop coordination, and self-awareness and help students refocus for classroom time. Trained staff will work with students in the “Sensory Room” to guide them as they use equipment, play games and engage in the activities that will help them build problem-solving skills.

  • Melinda Parrent
    Olson Elementary School
    Woodstock, Illinois

    Parrent and Doyle’s innovative program, “Cuéntame tu historia: Tell Me Your Story,” is a dual language project for first-grade students at Olson Elementary School. The program involves providing Apple iPads to participating Spanish/English students as well as books about different cultures from around the world for the school library. The current school library is missing many books on culture, and the technology in the dual-language classroom is dated and limited.