LLA Maker Teacher honored with Voya Unsung Hero Award



By Justin Warren

LLA Science and Maker teacher Wayne Brock received the Voya Unsung Hero Award today at Life Learning Academy. He was one of 100 recipients nationwide, and one of only two in northern California.

“We’ve made some achievements,” said Brock, “and now, with this additional money, we can now push it to another level.”

Jay Jorgensen presented the award, saying that Brock embodied the type of educator that Voya is proud to support. Jorgensen is a Regional Vice President for Voya, a financial services company formerly known as ING U.S., that serves 13 million customers nationwide, according to the company website.

Jorgensen shared his belief that monetary awards coupled with national recognition can spur educators to continue their best work with students.

Brock, a veteran teacher at LLA, echoed the value of constructing big outcomes upon each small accomplishment.


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“I first started teaching here 14 years ago, with not much, and we just keep building on it, and building on it,” he said, noting that now “former students come back and say ‘wow, you’ve got that now?'”

“Without the Maker students in there coming up with creative projects,” Brock acknowledged, “we can’t have the successes that we have. I can’t do it by myself.”

Brock said that the Voya award will be instantly reinvested in his teaching and his classroom, and called upon his current Maker Class students to help figure out how to allocate the funds. For these students, he wrote in a statement to Voya, “reference materials and textbooks become a resource rather than a burden. They start to see me as a coach and mentor that can help them achieve a goal that they set for themselves.”

LLA students, including those in Maker Class, comprise demographic groups that are significantly underserved by typical schools, and dramatically underrepresented in tech, engineering, and maker careers. According to Brock, these are barriers that dedicated effort and the right tools can overcome.

“If you don’t have the resources” to do what you want to do, “just do it, and the success will come,” Brock said.

In terms of the award that supports more of those tools for the LLA maker lab, Brock said, “I can’t wait to start putting this to use.”