WINDSOR, Conn., Oct. 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. To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/60372-ing-u-s-teacher-takes-first-place-in-national-ing-unsung-heroes-awards (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131003/MM90462) 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.