Two Rio Grande City Educators Win $7,000 National ING Unsung Heroes Award

August 30, 2005 Atlanta, GA and Rio Grande City, TX Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

At a surprise celebration at Rio Grande City High School, two English teachers, Alan Crawford and Kathleen Dyer, both residents of Rio Grande City, were recognized by ING as two of the most innovative educators in the nation. Out of one hundred $2,000 finalists in the 2005 ING Unsung Heroes awards program, Crawford and Dyer claimed the third place award of an additional $5,000 to fund the literature program they developed called “Voices of the Valley.”

In its 10th year, the ING Unsung Heroes awards program recognizes kindergarten through 12th grade educators nationwide for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to make a positive influence on the children they teach. The program, founded by ING U.S. Financial Services, has awarded more than $2.3 million to nearly 1,000 educators across the United States. This year’s ING Unsung Heroes winners were selected from a group of more than 1,100 educators.

“Alan and Kathleen have created an academically intense and culturally relevant project that goes beyond the traditional curriculum to bring characters and experience to which their students can relate,” said Principal Joel Trigo. “This new program will create high-level literature that explores the collective consciousness of the Mexican-American identity.”

“Voice of the Valley” is a cultural and community-driven program that creatively and purposely combines rigorous academic development, student-directed investigations and critical thinking skills as an impetus to self-reflection. More than 260 students will conduct interviews with local members of their community about their immigration experiences, and through a rigorous five-step writing process, transform the transcript into a vivid, first hand account of their interviewee’s experience.

Along with the invaluable writing skills the students will learn, the project also recognizes the members of the South Texas community who have made heroic sacrifices to give themselves and their families a better life in the U.S. Of the 2,382 students at the school, 74 percent are economically disadvantaged and 27 percent of the students are classified as migrants, thus the intense translation component of this project will address English language learning needs. The project will include weekly evaluations and will result in a 300-page book of the students’ writings.

“This year ING is celebrating its 10th year of honoring outstanding educators around the country whose work to pioneer new methods and teaching techniques is sometimes overlooked,” said Bill Jasien, senior vice president of ING U.S. Financial Services. “A good education system is important to the future of this country, and ING will continue its commitment to help build a strong educational foundation for the future of America’s school children.”

Applicants for the ING Unsung Heroes awards program are asked to provide a project description, description of the program’s benefit to students and an accounting of how they would use the funds received. The 100 finalists are selected on program merit by Scholarship America, an independent, non-profit organization that administers this aspect of the program on ING’s behalf. ING’s Educators Advisory Board, consisting of renowned educators and administrators from across the country, selects the top three award recipients from that group of 100.

To learn about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit the ING Unsung Heroes Web site at Applications for the 2006 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available on the Web site. You can also receive an application by calling 800.537.4180 or emailing

Press inquiries

Kristie Tomkins, 212.537.8270,
Dafina McMillan, 212.537.8023,
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About ING

ING Group is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance and asset management to more than 60 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 50 countries. With a diverse workforce of more than 112,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand.

ING is a leader in providing 403(b) plans to kindergarten through 12th grade educators and other employees of nonprofit organizations in America. In the U.S., ING offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients that includes retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, life insurance, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. Currently, ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves more than 14 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit