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Villa Madonna Teacher Named "Unsung Hero", Awarded Grant

A teacher at Villa Madonna Academy has won a $2,000 grant and has been named an "Unsung Hero".

Jenna Yuenger is one of the recipients of Voya Financial's 2016 Unsung Heroes awards.

Through the program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative education projects, and their ability to positively influence the children they teach. This year marks the program’s 20th anniversary. Since 1996, it has awarded nearly $5 million in grants to more than 2,000 educators across the United States.

“We are proud to recognize those exceptional teachers who work every day to raise the bar of their profession and find new ways to spark a love of learning," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. "As we help Americans plan, invest, and protect their savings to build a secure financial future, we’re honored to help Jenna Yuenger go above and beyond to prepare her students for their own bright future.”

Yuenger’s innovative teaching idea, Full STEAM Ahead, is focused on creating an environment where learning happens in a hands-on motivational way. She believes in today’s world, students need to be equipped with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) knowledge, as well as the problem-solving skills necessary to be creative thinkers.

Selected from a group of more than 1,350 applicants. Yuenger is one of only 100 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.

“I am honored to receive this money from Voya. Their support will help us move ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ with our STEAM programs here at Villa," Yuenger said.

“This grant money allows us to expand our program and instill in our kindergarten through sixth grade students a love of STEAM learning," said principal Soshana Bosley. "The faculty will use this money to purchase additional materials that they can use to provide engaging, student-centered activities where their students have the opportunity to question, collaborate, and solve real problems.”  The grant will provide new opportunities for students to further explore circuitry, engineering, computer programming, and robotics. 

-Staff report

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