Happy Valley teacher’s innovative teaching program gets $2,000 from Voya Financial

Published 12:36 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, has announced that Ben Ensor, a teacher at Happy Valley High School in Elizabethton, has received a $2,000 grant as part of the company’s 2023 Unsung Heroes awards competition. Ensor is the only winner in the entire state of Tennessee.
For 27 years, the Voya Unsung Heroes program has awarded grants to K-12 educators in the United States to recognize and support their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and their ability to positively influence the children they teach. Since the program’s inception, Voya has awarded more than $6 million in support of educators through this nationwide program.
“Teachers, staff and administrators responsible for the education of children are national treasures, and educators such as Ben Ensor are among the ‘best of the best,’” said Angela Harrell, Voya’s chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer and president, Voya Foundation. “For nearly 30 years, Voya’s Unsung Heroes program and our other education-oriented initiatives have celebrated and financially supported the development of creative teaching methods and innovative thinking that help prepare students for what awaits them beyond their school years. These professionals are truly our unsung heroes.”
Ensor’s innovative idea, a student-run “Daily Drip Coffee Shop,” was inspired by one of the students in the school’s business program. By opening a coffee shop, students will get a feel for running their own business, gain work experience, and learn valuable life skills when it comes to working as a team. They will be responsible for everything from the barista side of the business to the accounting side. Ensor believes it will help students reach beyond their social groups and get to know others who they normally wouldn’t talk to. He hopes the project will help students achieve great things with the coffee shop and grow personally in and out of the classroom.
Selected from applicants from schools across the United States, the group is among only 50 winning submissions to receive the $2,000 award to help fund and bring their program to life. In addition, they 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.

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