Voya Financial, Inc., a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced on Monday that Dominique Evans, a teacher at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2020 Unsung Heroes awards competition.
Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and their ability to positively influence the children they teach.
“For more than two decades, we have been committed to making a difference in the community by investing in the future of education and providing opportunity for educators to innovate,” said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax Exempt Markets. “Though every year we celebrate the Unsung Heroes whose ideas in the classroom will better prepare our nation’s children for a rapidly changing workforce, this year is unique. Educators like Dominique have had to be particularly innovative, and will continue to be, as they find new and creative ways to reach her students to help keep them engaged and learning during challenging times. It is instances like these that make us proud to support America’s educators as they go above and beyond to prepare their leaders of tomorrow for successful futures.”
Evans’ innovative teaching idea, “Drones & The Science of Where,” focuses on using drones, a multispectral sensor and virtual reality to prepare students for STEM careers. The resources will be used for three Career & Technical Education (CTE) classes to fuse academic knowledge of geologic processes, GIS mapping and analysis. Some students will immerse themselves into the role of an emergency manager, performing risk assessments, loss estimations and loss mitigation for public safety and others will form teams to work collaboratively to identify an environmental issue and create an action plan to address it. The Voya grant will be used to purchase drones and sensors and VR headsets for each class to integrate into student mapping projects. “Drones & The Science of Where” will be the first program of its kind in the career technical education geographic information systems pathway.
Where necessary, some programs will need to be adjusted for distance learning or will have to be recalibrated for implementation based on social distancing requirements in each state.
Selected from a group of applicants from across the country, Evans is one of only 50 winners across the country who will receive this award to help fund and bring her program to life. In addition, she will now compete with other finalists for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from Voya Financial.
To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit unsungheroes.com. Applications for the 2021 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2021.