Voya Financial, Inc., a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, presented Camille Cavazos, a teacher at Long Elementary School, with a $2,000 grant on September 28. The award is part of the company’s 2015 Unsung Heroes awards competition.
Albert Villareal, Voya Financial Adviser, was on hand to present the check.
“Each year, the Voya Unsung Heroes award helps educators turn great ideas into reality,” said Villareal. “We like to show our appreciation for the special teachers like Camille, who go above and beyond the call of duty to make learning exciting for students.”
Across the United States, K-12 educators submit applications for the grant by describing projects they have initiated or would like to pursue. Each project is judged on its innovative method, creativity and ability to influence students positively.
Cavazos’ innovative teaching idea, “Yikes!! We have to move!!” is focused on the study of biomes and adaptations, in which each student will create a life-size walk-through biome museum. The students must build a biome that presents the greatest chance for survival, after being forced to move from their fictional communities due to contaminated soil. Additionally, they will be tasked with researching the various types of biomes and their inhabitants and creating a life-size walk-through museum for families, faculty, and students to visit.
“I’m so excited and honored to receive this award. With the grant I will have the students create a museum exhibit on biomes,” said Camille Cavazos. “It’s a project based learning project so the students will be working collaboratively. I would also love to digitalize these biomes as well – by having students create QR codes for visitors to scan to learn more as they walk through.”
Selected from a group of nearly 1,000 applicants, Cavazos is one of only 100 winners across the country that will receive this award to help fund and bring her program to life. 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.
“It is because of innovative educators like Camille Cavazos that our district can expand learning experiences for students allowing them opportunities for maximum achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “We are very proud of her accomplishment in the Unsung Heroes awards competition and are appreciative of her continued commitment to education.”
Since 1996, the Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded more than $4.5 million to help the nation’s educators turn creative teaching ideas into reality.
To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Unsung Heroes website at unsungheroes.com. Applications for the 2016 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2016.