Newcastle teacher earns grant

NLJ Staff

Voya Financial, Inc., a leading provider of workplace retirement solutions, including savings plans for K-12 educators, announced this week that James Stith, a teacher at Newcastle High School in Newcastle, Wyo., has received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2018 Voya 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 ability to positively influence their students. For more than 20 years, the program has awarded over $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 educators across the United States, according to a press release from the company. 

“Our Unsung Heroes program continues to recognize teachers who go above and beyond to inspire today’s students in the classroom,” said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. “We are proud to honor teachers like James Stith whose inspiring program is making a difference in the lives of young people. This commitment and passion for teaching closely aligns with our focus at Voya on helping all Americans prepare for their unique financial futures.”

The release stated that Stith’s innovative teaching idea, “Spreading Coding in Wyoming,” focuses on providing circuitry and coding education for the students at Newcastle High School as well as professional development opportunities for teachers of other schools around the state. With the Voya grant, Stith will be able to purchase the necessary Arduino-based classroom kits and deliver them to schools around the state. 

“Wyoming’s Legislature has recently expressed a need and desire to include coding as part of the Wyoming Public School curriculum, as it ranks as one of the lowest in the nation in AP computer science scores. To help support this, Stith will provide mentorship and educational opportunities to go with the kits, offering basic knowledge on circuitry and coding,” the release claimed.

Selected from a group of more than 1,200 applicants, Stith is one of only 100 winners across the country who will receive this award to help fund and bring his program to life. In addition, he 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 at Applications for the 2019 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2019.


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