HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- Unum recognized 58 teachers and presented them 2010 Strong Schools Grants totaling $50,000. The Grants Program continues the multi-year partnership between Unum and the Hamilton County Department of Education.

The 2010 grants will pay for a variety of educational materials and programs, including non-fiction library books, chemicals for labs, equipment for photojournalism projects, Rosetta Stone computer software, ACT preparation, enrichment materials, and much more.

"Each of these 58 teachers applied for assistance with a specific need in their classroom," said Bob Best, chief operating officer at Unum. "These grants will enable teachers to provide a better quality education for their students. We call them mini grants, but they can make a huge difference."

The mini grants give up to $1,000 for classroom or school-based projects and lessons in K-12 Hamilton County Schools. Through the program, Unum hopes to improve the integration of career preparation into academic content.

"This is just one way Unum is demonstrating their belief in building a strong community and education system," said Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales. "We are very appreciative of their generous, long-term investment in our children."

This year, funding from the Strong Schools Grants Program allowed a research-driven program to improve the social skill development in autistic and language-impaired students to be implemented at Red Bank Middle School. All of the 14 middle school students involved showed improvements in social behavior, and the project spearheaded the development of similar classes in two other Hamilton County schools.

Unum announced this new partnership with Hamilton County Schools in 2008. The partnership includes four initiatives designed to support and celebrate effective, creative ways to engage students and improve their learning and achievement levels.

Through the first three initiatives:

Seventeen schools have received Technology Challenge Grants from Unum. Each school first raised funds for a Promethean Teaching System and Unum then matched the funds.

Seven schools have received Elementary Technology Grants in which each school received two Promethean Teaching Systems.

A mentoring program with sixth-graders is under way at Dalewood and Orchard Knob middle schools through a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters with 21 Unum employees serving as mentors in this program.

"Unum has always supported public education, and we believe our sponsorship of these initiatives with the Hamilton County Schools will help improve student engagement and achievement," Best said.

2010 recipients of the grants include Leigh Anne Grant, Allen Elementary; Becky Leary, Nolan Elementary; Kristy Godbout, Clifton Hills Elementary; Kelly Willingham and Katie Wood, Thrasher Elementary; Laura Dowd, Red Bank Elementary; Scott Rosenow, Battle Academy; Emeri D. Gordon, Shepherd, Bess T. Elementary; Melanie Biederman, Center for Creative Arts; Heather Holt, Clifton Hills Elementary; Carrie Bishop, Big Ridge Elementary; Susan L. Kite, Birchwood Elementary; Pamela Lanier and Lisa Steele, East Brainerd Elementary; Melody Reynolds, Daisy Elementary; Kim Honeycutt, Donaldson, Calvin Elementary; Kristy Plumlee, Allen Elementary; Rick Hall, Smith, Wallace A. Elementary; Terri Robinson, Big Ridge Elementary; Karen Fogo, Normal Park – Upper; Karina Hendrix, Brown Academy; Michelle R. Lewis, Normal Park – Lower; Jacqueline Hauth, Soddy Elementary; Kimberly S. Pringle, Big Ridge Elementary; Verena Draper, Normal Park – Lower; Charity Langley, Apison Elementary; Mary Benno, Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts; Susan Proctor, McBrien Elementary; Judith Rice, Soddy Daisy High; Meri L. Sowders, Center for Creative Arts; Lu Shan Webb, Red Bank High; Gail Keyser, Hixson High; Ann Mabee, Sale Creek Middle/High; Mariann Schand, Hunter Middle; Kelley Kuhn, Center for Creative Arts; Regennia Martin, Soddy Daisy Middle; Heather Harwood, Loftis Middle; Diane Hoilman, Chattanooga School for Arts & Sciences; Rena Walton, Chattanooga School for Arts & Sciences; Matthew Craig, Normal Park – Upper; Alicia Hannah, East Ridge High; John Echols, Center for Creative Arts; Pamela Berman, Big Ridge Elementary; Jeremy Henderson, Hixson Middle; Kevin Spann, Hixson Middle; Elizabeth M. Renneisen, Tyner Academy; Stacey Bandy, Red Bank High; Carrie Willmore, Normal Park – Upper; Gail Wattenbarger, Center for Creative Arts; Sandy Hughes, Ooltewah High; Selena Seymour, East Ridge Middle; Donna Taheri, Howard School; Chad Burnette, Center for Creative Arts; Dennis Endicott, Howard School; Ashley Aldridge, Hardy Elementary; Sandra Reagan, Center for Creative Arts; Gary Kuehn, Hamilton County High; Sheri Carrillo, East Ridge High; Melony Wood, Normal Park – Upper; Jimmy Pierce, Lookout Valley Middle and High Schools.