Kohala Teacher awarded Unsung Hero Grant

Written by on September 22, 2020

Congratulations to Samantha Aiona, a teacher at Kohala Elementary School in Kapaau! She has received a $2,000 grant as an Unsung Hero.

Through the Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and their ability to positively influence the children they teach.

Aiona’s innovative teaching idea, “Coding with Ozobots,” focuses on a hands-on way of learning technology. The project will afford students the opportunity to learn coding through team-based collaboration to get robots to perform and achieve certain missions. The Ozobot curriculum is designed to support Next Generation Science Standards and can also be used to integrate learning across subject areas, and according to Aiona, can shorten the learning curve in the areas of computer science, S.T.E.A.M. education, robotics and technology.

Where necessary, some programs will need to be adjusted for distance learning or will have to be recalibrated for implementation based on social distancing requirements in each state.

Selected from a group of applicants from across the country, Aiona is one of only 50 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.

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the Unsung Heroes website ( unsungheroes.com ). Applications for the 2021 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2021.

Unsung Heroes is part of Voya Foundation’s signature program, Voya Teacher Voices . Voya Teacher Voices focuses on empowering teachers to become leaders by promoting the teaching career, recognizing high-achieving accomplishments, providing training opportunities and offering financial support to achieve their goals.


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