When she arrived in the auditorium at Glen Burnie High School this afternoon, art teacher Allison Butler thought the program was a simple recognition of the $2,000 grant award she won as part of the ING Unsung Heroes Award program, which is designed to recognize innovative teaching.
A short time later, Butler found out the truth: She won an additional $25,000 for being selected as the national winner from among more than 1,300 entries.
“I am absolutely speechless,” a shocked Butler told an auditorium of students, staff members, and ING officials as she accepted the award. “I was more than happy to have won the $2,000, but to have this kind of potential ahead of us for this program to reach every corner of this school and community and to bring us together in ways we have not yet realized is amazing.”
ING U.S., a leading provider of retirement plans and programs for teachers, has sponsored the program for the last 17 years, and has provided more than $4 million in grants to 1,800 educators nationwide.
Butler’s innovative idea, “Art at the Speed of Light,” brings together Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ drawing and painting curriculum with Glen Burnie High School’s BioMedical Allied Health (BMAH) honors physics curriculum to create an interdisciplinary pilot course that allows students to study physics through a visual arts lens. Butler plans to use the grant to incorporate video animation and other photographic technology as an alternative way to study physics concepts.
“Allison Butler is a dynamic and innovative teacher whose excitement for and passion about teaching is equaled by her willingness to unceasingly search for ways to help her students,” Glen Burnie High School Principal Vickie Plitt said. “She is an out-of-the-box thinker whose classes are challenging, enlightening, and rewarding.”
The $27,000 ING Unsung Heroes grant award will allow Butler to purchase items needed to enhance the program, including telephoto zoom lenses, tripods, Claymation software that will allow students to create action-sequenced video projects, computer tablet devices, a large-scale professional printer, and a speed light flash kit among many other necessities. The grant will also provide the opportunity to arrange one or more field trips to the International Center for Photography in New York City, where students could witness and investigate photographic techniques in the realm of professional studio photography.
“ING U.S. is honored to salute these outstanding teachers for their innovative ideas and dedication to America’s youth,” said Jamie Ohl, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for ING U.S. Retirement Solutions. “Each day, we help individuals prepare for a secure financial future, and we are proud to help these men and women who prepare students for their future. With this grant Allison Butler is receiving through our ING Unsung Heroes program, her project can continue making an impact on the children she serves.”
Watch Allison Butler learn she is the national winner here.