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Building the Relationship Between Home and School for Student Success Takes a 'Whole Village': The Second-Place Innovative Idea In The ING Unsung Heroes® Awards Program

The ING Unsung Heroes® Program Has Given Nearly $4 Million to Honor Innovation and Creativity Among the Nation’s Educators

Submitted by: ING

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Sep 14, 2012 – 10:30 AM EST


WINDSOR, Conn., Sep. 14 /CSRwire/ - ING U.S., a financial services company and leading provider of retirement plans and programs for educators, announced today that Tosha Rooks, a curriculum facilitator at Clara J. Peck Elementary School in Greensboro, N.C., has received the second-place prize in the national 2012 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 second-place winner, selected from more than 1,300 applications, Rooks will receive $10,000 to add to her initial $2,000 grant, bringing her grant total to $12,000 to help fund “Whole Village Saturday Academy,” her award-winning program she is implementing at Clara J. Peck Elementary School.

“We are absolutely pleased that Tosha Rooks was able to write a grant proposal that would give us an opportunity to service our English as a Second Language (ESL) population,” said Francine Mallory, principal at Clara J. Peck Elementary School. “Over 45 percent of the students at our school are ESL students and it is very important we provide them with opportunities to learn English and communicate with all of us. This is a wonderful program for our students, parents and their families that will benefit them academically and in their lives overall.”

Rooks’ winning program, “Whole Village Saturday Academy,” is designed to educate parents while also educating the students at Clara J. Peck Elementary School. Nearly half of the students at the school are not native English speakers; once they leave school, little English is often spoken at home. Parents are a child’s first teacher and want to help their children thrive in school and in the community. The program seeks to help build the relationship between home and school to help students succeed. Objectives for the program include: teaching students strong English language skills; providing tutorial services in reading, math and science; offering parents a place to learn English in a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment; and helping parents interact and assist their children with homework and school projects without frustration. Students and parents participate in the program on Saturdays throughout the year where they work with a school translator, ESL instructor and high school volunteer. The Saturday sessions often become family events where other family members who want to improve their English skills also attend. Rooks is excited that entire families want to improve their communication.

Students who participate in the “Whole Village Saturday Academy” receive individualized instruction on Saturdays to help them understand what their teachers are asking them to do in the classroom throughout the school week. With the lessons in English reading and writing, parents will be better able to navigate through their community by learning how to use the local library and other community centers to help further their education. With the funds from the ING U.S. grant, Rooks, who lives in High Point, will purchase additional equipment such as a “Smart Table,” white boards and online reading programs to continue enhancing the program for her students and their families.

“ING U.S. is proud of the hard work and dedication of all of our nation’s teachers,” said Maliz Beams, CEO of ING U.S. Retirement. “It is a privilege to invest in the innovative ideas of educators across the U.S. who are preparing our children for the future. We hope the additional funds Tosha Rooks is awarded through ING Unsung Heroes will help sustain her ‘Whole Village Saturday Academy’ program and continue to make an impact on the children in her community.”

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 nearly $4 million to 1,700 educators in kindergarten through 12th grade for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence the children they teach.

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 2013 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the website.

About ING U.S.
ING U.S. constitutes the U.S.-based retirement, investment management and life insurance operations of Netherlands-based ING Groep N.V. (NYSE: ING). In the U.S., the ING family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, including retirement plans, IRA rollovers and transfers, stable value, institutional investment management, mutual funds, alternative investments, life insurance, employee benefits, fixed and indexed annuities and financial planning. ING U.S. holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 13 million customers across the nation.  For more information, visit

For more information, please contact:

Audria Benn Director, Corporate Communications
Phone: 770-980-5715
Phone 2: 404-934-8743


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