Voya Financial, Inc. announced that Theresa Daniels, a STEAM teacher at Coudersport Junior and Senior High School in Coudersport, has received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2021 Unsung Heroes awards competition.

Daniels’ innovative teaching idea, “Digital Art in STEAM,” will help students understand how to use STEAM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) technologies to create art.

With the Voya grant, the program will purchase Procreate, a powerful software designed for sketching, illustrating and prototyping artwork, for students. Compatible with tablets and computers, the software gives the students a feeling of real-world drawing and provides them with an opportunity to express themselves through their work. Working digitally means mistakes are never permanent, giving students the confidence to experiment.

Daniels believes this freedom to experiment will empower the next generation of artists to find their voice, express their ideas and tell stories unique to them and their life experiences.

If necessary, the program will be adjusted for distance learning or will be recalibrated for implementation based on social distancing requirements.

Selected from a group of applicants from across the United States, Daniels is one of only 50 winners and has the only winning program in the state. In addition to receiving the $2,000 award to help fund and bring her program to life, Daniels 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.

For 25 years, the Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded grants to K-12 educators in the United States to honor 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 $5.8 million in support of educators through this nationwide program.

“Educators have faced unprecedented challenges during this past year and, more than ever, need support as they work to develop today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Angela Harrell, Voya’s chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer and president, Voya Foundation. “Our Unsung Heroes program helps bring to life educators’ innovative teaching ideas to enrich the learning experience and better prepare our nation’s children for a rapidly changing workplace.

“This year, educators like Theresa Daniels have had to be particularly innovative to find new and creative ways to reach students to help keep them engaged during challenging times,” she added. “We are proud to support educators across the country as they go above and beyond to ensure they are connecting with their students with innovative approached to learning.”

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Unsung Heroes website.

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