ING Unsung Hero: Clinton Sickles

Through the ING Unsung Heroes program, ING U.S. has recognized and helped fund these great ideas for nearly 20 years, ultimately helping to improve learning for America’s K-12 students. One of the winning programs in the 2013 ING Unsung Heroes competition was submitted by Clinton Sickles, a music teacher at Pressley Ridge Day School Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. He is going back to school with a $2,000 ING Unsung Heroes grant. By receiving the ING Unsung Heroes award, Sickles is recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators. He is one of only 100 winners across the country who is receiving a $2,000 award to help fund “Using Rap Music to Debunk Problems in Life”, his creative idea and bring it to life. He will now compete with other winners for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from ING U.S.

Sickles’ innovative project, “Using Rap Music to Debunk Problems in Life”, is designed to examine the correlation between music and therapy in a partial hospital setting. Because the students at Sickles’ school have severe emotional and mental health issues that prevent them from being able to be educated in neighborhood schools, they often require different approaches to learning. The program will add to the traditional “talk therapy” methods. Students will learn appropriate ways to vent their problems through styles of music they enjoy and in the language of their generation. They will develop self-reflective practices in their music that relate directly to their troubles, struggles, dreams, and hopes, and learn to use music as an outlet and coping mechanism. Utilizing computer software and recording equipment to compose their own songs, students will gain self-confidence and be empowered to overcome the fears they may have had in being able to use a musical voice to create music. Sickles, who lives in Monongahela, hopes to positively shape students’ attitudes about school, work, and life.

“ING U.S. is honored to salute these outstanding teachers for their innovative ideas and dedication to America’s youth,” said Jamie Ohl, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for ING U.S. Retirement Solutions.
“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 Clinton Sickles is receiving through our ING Unsung Heroes program, his project can continue making an impact on the children he serves.”

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