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.


  • Gunsaulus Elementary Scholastic Academy
    Chicago, Illinois

    Kucinski’s winning program, “My Responsibility,” is designed to help fourth-grade students at Gunsaulus Elementary Scholastic Academy learn more about biomes. Students will first draw a map of where each biome is located in the world and select one to research and learn more about the plants and animals that live there. They will then compare and contrast physical characteristics of biomes including soils, vegetation, landforms, climate, and natural hazards and look at why some species are endangered.


  • Amber Vonderau
    Country Meadow Elementary School
    Ashley, Indiana

    “The Nature of Learning: Experiencing Nature through Project-Based Learning” is Vonderau’s and Kennedy’s winning program that will provide an “outdoor classroom” for the students in the multi-age classrooms to get hands on science experience and enhance their independent, project-based and inquiry learning opportunities. The “outdoor classroom” will include a pond, greenhouse, flower/vegetable garden and a butterfly habitat. Students in first through fourth-grade will be able to observe and handle organisms in their natural environment.


  • Rhonda Arlt
    Explorer Elementary
    Goddard, Kansas

    Arlt’s winning program, “iTech,” aims to bring Apple iPad technology into the classroom. Students will use iPads to work in small groups or individually as a center activity. Although technology continues to develop and improve, extensive budget cuts to the education system have limited the purchase of new technology in recent years meaning many classrooms are operating with obsolete devices. To prepare students for a successful future, they must have access to and be familiar with the latest technology available.


  • Paducah Middle School
    Paducah, Kentucky

    Walker’s innovative “Star Check and Connect” program was created to assist students at Paducah Middle School who struggle academically as a result of behavior issues. The program pairs students with mentors that check in with them throughout the day, providing students with an outlet where they can feel safe to express their feelings and ask for help. Mentors check in with students each morning to discuss how the day began for them, ensuring that they got a good night’s rest, ate a nutritious breakfast and have their homework and materials ready for class.

  • Melissa Stebbins
    Field Elementary School
    Louisville, Kentucky

    Stebbins’ winning program, “ZooMania,” is a digital storytelling project designed for Kindergarten students at Field Elementary School and throughout Jefferson County Public Schools. The goals for the program are to increase students’ science vocabulary as well as improve their reading and writing, technology, and oral and listening skills.


  • Neili Loupe
    Hahnville High School
    Boutte, Louisiana

    Loupe and Spencer’s winning project, “Sugar-Coating Chemistry,” will expose students to sugarcane and its properties through literature and videos, including exploring its physical and chemical composition in a lab setting. Sugarcane is one of Louisiana’s most abundant natural resources. Because of its local ties, incorporating sugarcane and its products into the chemistry curriculum will improve students’ internalization of chemistry concepts. As part of the project, students will tour a sugarcane processing plant.


  • Timothy Gay
    Boston Latin School
    Boston, Massachusetts

    Gay’s inventive winning program, “Environmental Appraisal of the Emerald Necklace Park System,” aims to help students at the Boston Latin School (BLS) make connections to the global issues of climate change and sustainability by relating them to the local urban environment of Boston and conducting an annual environmental appraisal of the Emerald Necklace Park (ENP) system. BLS is located in the heart of the park system which boasts more than 1,000 acres of diverse ecosystems.

  • Dante Quercio
    Forest Grove Middle School
    Worcester, Massachusetts

    Quercio’s winning program, “S.T.E.M.: Ancient Engineering,” aims to create a new and unique before-school model-building club for students interested in engineering. Students will work collaboratively to choose historical buildings they want to replicate. Using Apple iPad2 technology to examine blueprints, students will work in groups to construct their buildings using cardstock, scissors, rulers, glue and tape. Students will then use Apple iPad2 technology to design their own original buildings, which they will construct using cardstock and recycled materials.


  • Denise Duffy
    McLean School of Maryland
    Potomac, Maryland

    Duffy’s winning program, “Hearing to Deaf: Enrichment and Understanding,” is designed to provide laptops for hearing students at the McLean School of Maryland with Skype capability so that they can communicate with deaf students their age at schools for the hearing-impaired around the country. The project is an innovative way to have hearing students and hearing-impaired teens come together to form bonds of friendship and understanding. The project attempts to immerse students in a very unique situation where using American Sign Language is the primary means of communication.

  • Edmondson Westside High School
    Baltimore, Maryland

    "Fully Actuated Simulation Trainer (FAST)” is Preston’s winning project that will create a fully actuated, six degrees of motion simulator. It was inspired by a student who recognized the disparities between their school and another area school that has a flight simulator. Although they were given a flight simulator game for the computer, they claimed the experiences were not the same.


  • Angela Gospodarek
    Gorham Middle School
    Gorham, Maine

    Gospodarek’s winning project, “Hometown Ecology,” takes a multi-faceted approach to teaching ecology that will connect students to their environment through hands-on learning. The goal of the project is to help students become vested members of their environment by investigating, analyzing and exploring local ecosystems. The project will link activities through math, science and social studies and provide an opportunity for students to connect with local scientists.

  • Ada Spinney
    Carl J. Lamb Elementary School
    Springvale, Maine

    Spinney’s winning program, “Operation Digital Denizens!,” is designed by students for students. The program focuses on helping students learn about digital citizenship – how to be a good inhabitant of the digital world. Sixth-grade students at Carl J. Lamb Elementary School will develop and implement a program that they will then share with younger students in first through fifth grades. The goals are to help youth become aware of and understand how to be a good digital citizen and use technology safely.


  • Patricia Hillaker
    Beecher Alternative Education Center
    Mt. Morris, Michigan

    Hillaker’s winning program, “Project E.A.R.T.H.: Environmental Awareness Reaching Teen Homes,” is designed to raise environmental awareness, sustainability and promote stewardship among teens. The project begins with students identifying a polluted or underdeveloped piece of land in the community to transform into an outdoor learning center, also known as “place-based learning.” “Project E.A.R.T.H.” provides an innovative way to expand learning opportunities to ‘at-risk’ youth while strengthening the community, improving achievement and decreasing inner city drop-out rates.

  • Erin Brege
    Hillman Junior/Senior High School
    Hillman, Michigan

    Brege’s winning program, “Hillman High School Broadcasting Class (HHSBC News),” is designed to engage students in authentic learning experiences, create professionalism through production experiences, and teach them new skills and techniques they may not learn in school. Students in the program will learn about broadcasting phases, professional editing techniques and on-camera talent. They will also learn about digital camera functions, audio and lighting selections and how to differentiate between daily news production and documentaries.


  • Discovery Elementary School
    Buffalo, Minnesota

    Koopman and her partners’ winning program, “Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes,” aims to help children work on their writing skills and teach them about the immigrant experience. The project will span generations and cultures as both elementary school children and a high school art class combine forces to write and illustrate publishable books. A variety of guest speakers will visit the elementary students. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the role books play or haven’t had the opportunity to play in other countries, in their community and around the world.

  • Mississippi Heights Elementary School
    Sauk Rapids, Minnesota

    Arndt’s winning project, “One District, One Book,” aims to unite the community in literacy by having all kindergarten through eighth-grade students read the same book, at the same time. The key ingredient includes providing parents with a schedule for reading the novel aloud to their children at home on a daily basis. Each day at school, there will be shared literacy activities, including trivia questions about the previous night’s reading. Activities will be provided for students to enjoy on family nights at home.


  • Stephanie Hill
    Center of Differentiated Education
    Kansas City, Missouri

    Hill’s winning program, “Community Caretakers,” engages students in the service-learning process to identify needs in the community. Service-learning is an instructional method that engages young people in service to their communities as a means of enriching their academic learning, promoting personal growth and helping students develop the skills needed to be productive citizens. “Community Caretakers” requires students to apply the skills they have learned by designing and implementing service-learning projects to meet a need they have identified in the community.

  • Joseph Bartin
    Kirkwood High School
    Kirkwood, Missouri

    “Keep Your Eyes on the Skies,” Bartin’s winning program, was developed to increase student understanding of and interest in astronomy. Strengths of this project come from the fact that it will be built upon a very established astronomy program. Every year between 80 and 100 juniors and seniors enroll in the Kirkwood High’s astronomy elective. High school students will become experts at understanding and explaining objects, patterns, and phenomena that can be observed in the day and night sky.


  • Yolanda Cobb
    Lake Elementary School
    Jackson, Mississippi

    “Robo-Genius: An Interactive Approach to Interdisciplinary Learning” is Cobb’s winning program that is designed to help the 450 students in second through fifth-grade at Lake Elementary design and create working robots by utilizing the WeDo Robotics Construction sets by Lego Education. This program extends what is covered in the regular curriculum with the addition of hands-on, technology-based manipulatives, allowing students to make meaningful connections between the science and math concepts.


  • Cheryl Barber
    Helena Flats Elementary School
    Kalispell, Montana

    Barber’s winning program, “Touch to Learn,” aims to bring technology into the classroom with the use of Apple iPad technology. Barber has already incorporated the use of Apple iPods into her classroom activities. Students have used the iPods for everything from voice recording, where students record themselves reading and then play it back to listen to their fluency, to calculators, cameras, and Internet access for resource materials and extended learning activities.

North Carolina

  • Eileen Farley
    Western Harnett High School
    Lillington, North Carolina

    “PUSH: Peers United to Stay in High School” is Farley’s winning program. It is a mentoring program that is student initiated. The purpose of the program is to decrease Western Harnett High dropout rates by providing tutoring, mentoring and support. The PUSH program aims to help students graduate high school, build a sense of community on campus and help seniors navigate the college application and scholarship process. Students in the program will utilize Apple iPad technology to research scholarships, career and training opportunities plus enrich PUSH tutoring efforts.

  • Clara J. Peck Elementary School
    Greensboro, North Carolina

    Rooks’ winning program, “Whole Village Saturday Academy,” is designed to educate parents while also educating the students at Clara J. Peck Elementary School. Nearly half of the students at the school are not native English speakers; once they leave school, little English is often spoken at home. Parents are a child’s first teacher and want to help their children thrive in school and in the community. The program seeks to help build the relationship between home and school to help students succeed.

  • Clifford Chin
    Covenant Day School
    Matthews, North Carolina

    Chin’s winning project, “The Big Green Fish: Developing Aquaponics for Here and Abroad,” uses aquaponics technology to grow fish and vegetables in a symbiotic system. The purpose of the project is to create a sustainable system to respond to the growing hunger needs of the surrounding community and in Haiti. Students will create this system and then use their knowledge to impact their community. The goal is to eventually be able introduce this sustainable technology to Haiti.

  • Linda Bryant
    Ayden-Grifton High School
    Ayden, North Carolina

    Bryant’s winning project “Keeping Track, While on the Run,” uses heart monitors as a means to motivate and evaluate student performance through the use of heart rate monitors. Students will wear the heart monitors during physical education class. They will use the information recorded on the monitors to compile a “sportfolio” showcasing the student’s increased physical activity. Students will learn how to calculate their resting, maximum and target heart rate. They will learn the importance of training within their target heart rate zone and will keep a training log of their progress.

  • Meredith Alexander
    North Elementary School
    Kings Mountain, North Carolina

    Alexander’s winning project, “Read and Ride,” incorporates literature and fitness to create a new and exciting way for students to learn. The “Read and Ride” classroom engages students in reading while riding stationary bikes. The classroom would be used for centers, accelerated reader time or as a reward. Alexander hopes the project will motivate students to read and stay active physically. In addition to reading and riding, students will also solve math problems and learn about healthy living habits.

North Dakota

  • Renee Merion
    Minot High School – Magic City Camus
    Minot, North Dakota

    Merion’s winning project, “Write On!,” is a writing program that focuses on interactive, on-line journaling through the use of laptops. Using different types of software, students will write and answer questions online. Students will also use interactive websites to edit their peers writing assignments. According to Merion, this interactive system encourages higher-order thinking skills. The use of laptops will also provide students a more efficient means of conducting research.


  • Brenda Klawonn
    Aurora High School
    Aurora, Nebraska

    “iWrite iBooks: Student Created History Books,” Klawonn’s winning program, will give ninth-and 10th-grade students in Leaders in American History, along with 11th-grade American History students, the chance to create their very own history book. They will utilize their reading, writing, note-taking, analyzing and synthesizing skills to create the book, which will be supported by interactive multimedia elements including pictures, videos, maps, glossary terms and multiple choice reviews.

New Hampshire

  • Surry Village Charter School
    Surry, New Hampshire

    Guerriero’s innovative program, “The Ashuelot River Atlas,” will benefit seventh and eighth-grade students at Surry Village Charter School. Students will use technology to increase awareness and knowledge for local citizens of the unique historical and ecological significance of the Ashuelot River Valley. The river has been inhabited by humans for more than 10,000 years; however, many current residents may not be aware of its beauty and utility.

New Jersey

  • Dr. Linda Szypula, Kelli Wenzel, K. Lynn Myers
    Fernwood Middle School
    Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

    Szypula and her colleagues’ creative, new “Saturday Morning Science Show” program, takes a “by kids, for kids” approach with high school students. The program involves directing and filming Fernwood Middle School students as they teach elementary school students science concepts through exciting, interactive experiments. With assistance from teachers, students will be actively involved in all facets of producing the “Saturday Morning Science Show,” including mastering science concepts, performing experiments, directing, filming and script writing.

  • Cynthia Miller
    Bright Beginnings Learning Center
    Piscataway, New Jersey

    Miller’s winning program, “Energy Cubs Greenhouse Project,” is designed to allow students to actively engage in energy saving and sustainability. Because Bright Beginnings is a self-contained special education school with students who are multiple disabled or autistic, the importance of developing innovative ways to give the same learning opportunities to typically-aged peers is paramount. Elementary and secondary age students will be involved.