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Danbury’s Shelter Rock School Wins $2K For Innovative Math Project

Jennifer Hildebrand, a teacher at Shelter Rock School in Danbury, spearheaded a teaching initiative that won a $2,000 award from Voya Financial.
Jennifer Hildebrand, a teacher at Shelter Rock School in Danbury, spearheaded a teaching initiative that won a $2,000 award from Voya Financial. Photo Credit: Contributed

DANBURY, Conn. --- Danbury’s Shelter Rock School has been awarded $2,000 to fund its “No more homework, play more video games!” initiative this fall and is in the running for a larger scholarship to be awarded in September.

Voya Financial, formerly known as ING, awarded the money as part of its “Unsung Heroes” program. The financial institution has awarded nearly $5 million over the past 20 years, inspiring success in the classroom and in students.

Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund innovative class projects. Projects are selected based on innovative method, creativity and ability to positively influence students. Three of those recipients are chosen to receive top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.

Jennifer Hilderbrand, a fifth-grade teacher at Shelter Rock, spearheaded the campaign. “No More Homework! Play Video Games!” teaches students in grades three through five mathematics in a deeper, more interactive manner.

Teachers Richard Roos, Kristi Svendsen and Joshua Halsband helped with the project. The initiative allows the student to be the teacher, while integrating computer programming and giving students hands-on experience.

It is aligned with the Common Core curriculum and guarantees that students will understand math concepts better than through other traditional methods.

Students in the program create video games using Common Core-standard math. While regular video games generally do not promote math learning, this program does as students research, create and design ways to teach other students math concepts so they can “beat” the video game.

“This program puts the student at the center of learning. We know that students learn more by doing and by teaching someone, student truly understand what they are doing,” said Shelter Rock principal Dr. Alison Villaneuva. “Their learning of math ties to the real world.”

This is the second “Unsung Heroes” scholarship awarded to the district in recent years. Westside Middle School Academy received $2,000 to fund its Lego Robotics program in 2014.

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