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Weirton native recognized as Unsung Hero by ING

November 27, 2011
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

A Weirton native has been recognized as an ING Unsung Hero for 2011, the 15th anniversary of the program designed to honor educators who have significant impact on the lives of children but remain under-appreciated and under-recognized.

Marcie Fijewski Easton, now an ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist at Frankford Elementary School in Frankford, W.Va., was recognized as one of the nation's most innovative educators for her "iCommunicate!" idea. Easton said she developed the idea to excite and motivate students to want to learn and become better communicators through knowledge and use of technology, incorporating 21st century technology to help students with communication disorders, teach students how to use technology programs to enhance skills they learn in therapy and to encourage the use of technology in a positive learning fashion. The program also will educate teachers and parents on using technology to help the students at home and in the classroom entity.

Easton's students will use Apple iPad's, apps and other software to enhance remediation of speech and language disorders such as Autism Spectrum, ADHD, ADD, Apraxia and other learning disabilities.

Now residing in Lewisburg, the 1991 graduate of Madonna High School received a $2,000 cash award for her winning idea. She'll use the money to purchase the iPad2s, apps and software to implement the project immediately.

The effectiveness of the program will be measured by the students' improved grades, progress in therapy and ability to independently and appropriately use the iPads, according to officials.

"ING is proud to celebrate this milestone of our Unsung Heroes program and is honored to recognize the hard work and dedication of our nation's teachers," said Brian Comer, president of public markets ING US retirement services. "Fifteen years ago we made a commitment to invest in innovative program ideas from educators in states, cities and schools across the United States who make the daily investment of preparing our children for the future. It has been a winning investment. We hope the additional funds Marcie Easton was awarded through the ING Unsung Heroes program will help to sustain her program and continue to make an impact on the children she serves in her community."

ING launched the program in 1996 to demonstrate the company's commitment to the education community. Over the years, the program has rewarded 1,600 kindergarten through 12th-grade educators for breakthrough projects that take classroom teaching to new heights. Since its inception, ING has awarded nearly $3.8 million to some 1,600 educators across the nation.

The 2011 recipients were selected from more than 1,400 applications nationwide, with a few hundred applications from West Virginia alone.

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