Sanborn teacher receives $2k grant

OSSINEKE – Sanborn Elementary teacher Robert Thomson is one of 100 teachers across the country to receive a $2,000 ING Unsung Heroes grant to put toward his award-winning teaching program.

Thomson’s students have been working to spread awareness of an invasive species, the rusty crayfish, and have been collecting data on the crayfish in the Thunder Bay River as part of the Thunder Bay River Watershed Project, which is part of the B-Wet program.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to use the grant,” Thomson said. “I’m honored they selected me out of 1000s of people. This will give us the opportunity to build on what the students have done.”

The project is a research initiative based on the previous three years of student-led research projects, and goes above and beyond what can be supported by the watershed project.

“Each group of students takes the project and makes it their own,” Thomson said. “They write grants and grow the project from the previous research. The kids see how their hard work can develop the project and get to help out in the community as well. It’s a great way to get the kids recognized and deliver something the community can use. It’s a bonus for everyone. They see that they are doing (is) something that matters.”

The 17-year ING Unsung Heroes program has honored educators who work to make a lifelong impact in the classroom for their students. Thomson is recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators by receiving the award. Since he is one of the top 100, Thomson will now compete with other winners for one of the top three prizes of an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from ING U.S.

“ING U.S. is honored to salute these outstanding teachers for their innovative ideas and dedication to America’s youth,” Jamie Ohl, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for ING U.S. Retirement Solutions, said in a press release. “Each day, we help individuals prepare for a secure financial future, and we are proud to help these men and women who prepare students for their future. With this grant, Robert Thomson is receiving through out ING Unsung Heroes program, his project can continue making an impact on the children he serves.”

Thomson has outlined specific use for the grant that includes transportation costs, replacement water testing equipment, three dip nets and Ph probes for the students to use for testing.

“It grows in the community,” Thomson said. “We sustain our community by developing proactive citizens. Success leads to success, and the students learn that through research and growth. It just builds.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.