Kenesaw educator’s innovative teaching program gets $2,000 boost from Voya Financial

Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded more than $6 million to help U.S. educators turn creative teaching ideas into reality for the last 27 years.
Local4 News at 6
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 3:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Voya Financial, Inc., a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Nicole LeClaire, a principal at Kenesaw High School has received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2023 Unsung Heroes awards competition. LeClaire is the only winner in the entire state of Nebraska.

For 27 years, the Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded grants to K-12 educators in the United States to recognize and support their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and their ability to positively influence the children they teach. Since the program’s inception, Voya has awarded more than $6 million in support of educators through this nationwide program.

“Teachers, staff and administrators responsible for the education of children are national treasures, and educators such as Nicole LeClaire are among the ‘best of the best,’” said Angela Harrell, Voya’s chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer and president, Voya Foundation. “For nearly 30 years, Voya’s Unsung Heroes program and our other education-oriented initiatives have celebrated and financially supported the development of creative teaching methods and innovative thinking that help prepare students for what awaits them beyond their school years. These professionals are truly our unsung heroes.”

LeClaire’s innovative teaching idea, “Prepare Today, Succeed Tomorrow,” focuses on repurposing an outdated classroom to create a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts & Education Lab/Classroom. This multi-course, multi-functional space will be designed to provide students with practical cooking space, room to prepare foods, space to store equipment, and room to grow through hands-on learning. With the Voya Unsung Heroes grant, LeClaire will be able to restructure the existing space and purchase industry-grade equipment that meets National Food Safety Standards to allow students to learn in a cooperative, hands-on environment which will lead to industry certifications in high-demand occupations.

Selected from applicants from schools across the United States, the group is among only 50 winning submissions to receive the $2,000 award to help fund and bring their program to life. In addition, they 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 the Unsung Heroes website.