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Maryland Teacher Takes First Place in National ING Unsung Heroes Awards® Competition

“Art at the Speed of Light” combines drawing and painting curriculum with physics allowing students to study the phenomena through a visual arts lens

Windsor, Conn., October 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — ING U.S., a leading provider of retirement plans and programs for educators, announced today that Allison Butler, a teacher at Glen Burnie High School in Glen Burnie, Md., has received the first-place prize in the national 2013 ING Unsung Heroes® awards program.

Through this program, ING U.S. awards grants to educators throughout the U.S. for innovative teaching ideas.  As the first-place winner, selected from nearly 1,300 applications, Butler will receive $25,000 to add to her initial $2,000 grant, bringing her grant total to $27,000 to help fund “Art at the Speed of Light,” the award-winning program she is implementing at Glen Burnie High School. 

ING U.S. began the ING Unsung Heroes program in 1996 to demonstrate the company’s commitment to the education community.  Over the years, the program has awarded more than $4 million to 1,800 K-12 educators to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach.

“Allison 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, said Vickie Plitt, principal at Glen Burnie High School.  “She is an out-of-the-box thinker whose classes are challenging, enlightening and rewarding.”

“Art at the Speed of Light” combines the fundamentals of intermediate drawing and painting curriculum with the Bio Medical Allied Health Magnet students’ honors physics curriculum, creating an interdisciplinary pilot course.  The program allows students innovative opportunities to explore and study physics phenomena through a visual arts lens.  To date, the drawing and painting projects borrow from various photographic styles.

With the grant, unusual photographic technology, including video animation, will be incorporated into the program as an alternative way to study physics concepts such as momentum, velocity, light reflection and refraction.  With the interdisciplinary “triad” among physics, drawing/painting and photography, students will experiment with an exciting array of technology to create the striking photographic effects of backlighting, stop-motion, light painting and high-speed.  They will also produce video-animated sequences as a final project and attend a field trip to the International Center for Photography in New York City. 

Butler, who lives in Glen Burnie, wants her program to continue to help students to mathematically deduce the physics phenomena present with scientific analyses.  She also indicated that the additional grant will bring a larger, long-term vision for her students to life:  implementing a photography and video animation course that allows students to explore, in-depth, the link between photography, video and science.

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 the ING Unsung Heroes grant, Allison’s project can continue making a positive impact on the children she teaches.”

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes website.  More information about the program can also be found on the ING Unsung Heroes Facebook page where people can like and share the page to encourage more educators to apply.  Applications for the 2014 ING Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2014.

About ING U.S.
ING U.S. (NYSE: VOYA), which plans to rebrand in the future as Voya Financial, is a premier retirement, investment and insurance company serving the financial needs of approximately 13 million individual and institutional customers in the United States.  The company’s vision is to be America’s Retirement Company and its guiding principle is centered on solving the most daunting financial challenge facing Americans today — retirement readiness.  Working directly with clients and through a broad group of financial intermediaries, independent producers, affiliated advisors and dedicated sales specialists, ING U.S. provides a comprehensive portfolio of asset accumulation, asset protection and asset distribution products and services.  With a dedicated workforce of approximately 7,000 employees, ING U.S. is grounded in a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family and one institution at a time.  For more information, visit