Innovative Educational Program Takes Second Place in National Voya Unsung HeroesTM Awards Competition

Innovative Educational Program Takes Second Place in National Voya Unsung HeroesTM Awards Competition

“Life Around Us” transforms traditional classroom setting into 21st-century multimedia experience

Multimedia from this Release

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 1:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Voya Unsung Heroes®

CONTENT: Press Release

WINDSOR, Conn., October 10, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), formerly ING U.S., announced today that Patti Shaffer, a teacher at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec, New Mexico, has received the second-place prize in the company’s national 2014 Voya Unsung Heroes awards competition.

Since the Voya Unsung Heroes program began in 1996, Voya has awarded nearly $5 million to more than 2,000 K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach. 

As the second-place winner, selected from over 1,000 applications, Shaffer will receive $10,000 to add to her initial $2,000 grant, bringing her total to $12,000 to help fund Life Around Us, the award-winning program she is implementing at C.V. Koogler Middle School. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate this well-deserved award with Patti.  She is a consummate educator who personifies the Koogler Middle School motto to ‘Tiger Up, Never Give Up,’” said Rick Espinoza, principal at C.V. Koogler Middle School.  “Patti has a contagious enthusiasm for and passion about teaching that is equaled by her willingness to unceasingly search for ways to help her students succeed.” 

Life Around Us is a two-fold project in a 21st-century classroom setting designed to inspire students to create multimedia projects about society and life around them.  During the first semester, students collaborate with peers to create a persuasive multimedia documentary.  The documentary theme is a human-interest story, a social injustice or a story about improving society.  Student teams research topics and prepare a storyboard for the presentation.  After filming, the final presentation is shown to a campus audience. 

During the second semester, students create a multimedia real-life documentary.  Students interview a member of their family, a senior citizen volunteer, a veteran or any member of their community.  They ask questions about changes in society and the impact the social changes have made on their lives.  Students then create a video as well as a keepsake book for the individual that was interviewed. 

The $12,000 grant will allow Shaffer to purchase additional technology to enhance the program, including workstations, external hard drives, camcorders, digital cameras and lights.

“Voya Financial is honored to salute these outstanding teachers who have the vision to pioneer new methods and techniques in the classroom that inspire learning,” said Carolyn Johnson, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for Retirement Solutions at Voya Financial.  “Each day, we help individuals prepare for a secure financial future and we are proud to recognize these men and women who prepare students for their future.  We understand teaching is one of the most important professions in the world and are pleased to help Patti continue making a life-long, positive impact on the children she teaches.”

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Voya Unsung Heroes website.  Applications for the 2015 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2015.   

As an industry leader and advocate for greater retirement readiness, Voya Financial is committed to delivering on its vision to be America’s Retirement CompanyTM and its mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time.  


About Voya Financial
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), formerly ING U.S., is composed of premier retirement, investment and insurance companies serving the financial needs of approximately 13 million individual and institutional customers in the United States.  The company’s vision is to be America’s Retirement CompanyTM and its guiding principle is centered on solving the most daunting financial challenge facing Americans today — retirement readiness.  Working directly with clients and through a broad group of financial intermediaries, independent producers, affiliated advisors and dedicated sales specialists, Voya provides a comprehensive portfolio of asset accumulation, asset protection and asset distribution products and services.  With a dedicated workforce of approximately 7,000 employees, Voya is grounded in a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time.  For more information, visit or view our Voya Financial Interactive Company Profile.  Follow Voya Financial on Facebook and Twitter @Voya.

Media Contact:
Emily Dawe
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