A Corbin Intermediate School teacher is one of 100 teachers chosen to receive a $2,000 grant from Voya Financial through the company’s “Unsung Heroes” awards competition.
Nerissa Calhoun, who teaches sixth-grade science, social studies and geography, said she would use the grant to purchase 10 new Google Chrome Books to add to the school’s existing inventory of 120.
Calhoun explained that the devices are similar to a laptop computer, but students are limited to educational applications installed on the device.
“Right now we share with each other,” Calhoun said. “We are trying to get one cart per classroom. We are getting there.”
The devices are used as project based learning becomes prevalent in the classroom.
Calhoun said one such example is an assignment that called for the students to develop their own space-based colony.
The assignment calls for the students work to problem solve food and water supplies along with providing a suitable atmosphere.
“They will definitely not be collecting dust,” Calhoun said of the new Chrome Books explaining that education today is not just about providing the information to the students, but showing them how they can apply it in the real world.
As part of the project, the students must develop blueprints for their colonies.
“They take on and expand the knowledge,” Calhoun said of the students. “They become teachers of each other.”
Calhoun said she has searched for numerous grants to apply for in her teaching career.
“All the big, huge grants are very intimidating to apply for because they are very time consuming,” Calhoun explained. “So I started looking for the smaller grants that are more manageable. As they say, ‘if you don’t try, you get nothing.’”
While the $2,000 is a start, it is not the end of the competition.
The 100 finalists will compete for one of the top three prizes of $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000.
Chip Hill, a Voya Financial Advisor from Lexington, who came to Corbin Tuesday to present Calhoun with the award, said a third-party board would review the proposals from each finalist and select the three winners.
Calhoun said if she were selected for one of the top three prizes, the money would be used to purchase additional Chrome Books.
“Understanding that we all learn differently, these teachers have developed unique programs to engage the minds of each and every students,’ said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets at Voya Financial. “This aligns with our desire to help all Americans prepare for their unique financial futures. We are honored to empower Nerissa Calhoun to continue to impact the lives of young people who will one day be the future leaders of our communities.”
Calhoun gave credit to her fellow science/social studies teachers; Kim Stewart and Jimmy Hendrickson for working together with her to constantly improve the project based learning efforts.
Corbin Intermediate Principal Bill Jones said he is grateful to Calhoun for her efforts to secure the grant, which will benefit not only her classes, but also the entire school.
“She makes my job 1,000 times easier,” Jones said.