David Hedges, the band director at Woodland Elementary School in Sandy Springs, has been recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators in the 2008 ING Unsung Heroes awards program.

As one of 100 winners, Hedges received $2,000 to help finance his innovative idea and bring it to life in the classroom. The Roswell resident was selected from more than 1,400 applications nationwide.

That innovation is “Telling Our Story — A New Renaissance,” a program for fourth- and fifth-graders that “re-imagines” and “re-images” moments from the Harlem Renaissance. Students research art, photography and music from New York in the 1920s and 1930s and examine their influence on their own lives and the changes taking place today. The subjects of study include photographer James Van Der Zee and composer Duke Ellington.

The collaborative effort among the school’s art teacher, the band director and the students is a new approach to teaching social studies and history. The project provides students with an opportunity to create photographs and digital musical compositions that depict the period and to upload them to the Web for the world to see.

Hedges will now compete with the 99 other winners for the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.

The ING Unsung Heroes program, which started in 1996, recognizes kindergarten through 12th-grade educators for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence children.

Applications for the 2009 ING Unsung Heroes awards are available by visiting www.ing.com/us/unsungheroes, calling 800-537-4180 or e-mailing ing@scholarshipamerica.org.