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Caldwell County Teachers Win Bright Ideas Grants from Blue Ridge Energy
Exciting, hands-on learning projects are coming to six local Caldwell County classrooms thanks to $7,641 in Bright Ideas grants awarded recently by Blue Ridge Energy to local educators during a special luncheon celebration honoring winning teachers and their schools.
Bright Ideas is an academic grants program sponsored annually by Blue Ridge Energy. Bright Ideas grants help further traditional academic learning by funding innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding.
To date, Blue Ridge Energy has awarded more than $593,000 in Bright Ideas classroom grants impacting over 110,000 local students and teachers. This year, the cooperative is funding winning grants totaling $25,179 to 21 classrooms in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Avery counties.
Caldwell County grant-winning teachers are:
Vicki Cornett of Dudley Shoals Elementary for “Making it Work With Maker Space!” Students in the 21st century have been around technology all of their lives. They can navigate games and apps comfortably and are often more fluent with devices than adults. However, most students are not given an opportunity to work with their hands by using tools and other materials to build. Research shows that hands-on learning helps students strengthen their hand muscles, improves accuracy, and builds problem-solving skills. Maker Space lab will give students a space where they can invent, construct, build, and problem-solve and be given the freedom to make scientific inquiries. They will experiment to build and solve challenges presented to them by the media coordinator and their classroom teachers.
Rylie Lytle Plaster, of Horizons Elementary for “Keep Us Growing.” The grant for $1,851 will help students continue and expand a small gardening and greenhouse project that began three years ago and involved all students. Since its creation, teachers have introduced students to the effort that goes into growing plants, helping them achieve a sense of accomplishment by seeing the products of their hard work. This project allows teachers to incorporate the project more fully into daily routines and curriculum. It enables children's books in the classroom to lay the foundation of knowledge to prepare students for the things they will experience as the garden flourishes. It includes expansion of the greenhouse raised garden beds in an effort to provide more space for students to grow fruits and vegetables for many years to come.
Monica O’Quinn of William Lenoir Middle School for “Wildcats Create and Collaborate.” This $1,000 grant will help students build additional skills critical cultivating success during their school years, careers and later in life. To help learn critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem solving skills, the grant will go toward purchasing resources for media center areas allowing hands-on exploration, creation and learning. It will allow students to use various types of manipulatives to make deeper connections to their core content being taught in classrooms.
Chad Davis of Gateway School for “Glamification of Gateway.” This $1,500 grant incorporate virtual reality adventures, BreakoutEDU escape room simulations, Sphero Education Robots, and GooseChase multimedia scavenger hunts so that teachers can increase student engagement, better understand the North Carolina curriculum, and improve data from assessments.
Megan Starnes of Hudson Elementary School for “Decodable Books for Multilingual Learners.” This $948 grant will purchase sets of “Sound Out Chapter Books” to help 2nd to 5th grade struggling readers learn to read better and come to enjoy reading. Topics include camping, sports, space, and others that are interesting to older students. These books will supplement the reading instruction that students receive in the regular classroom and give them
extra support on developing their reading skills. Small group work will help teach the
skills and decodable patterns in the books.
“Blue Ridge Energy supports our schools and teachers to build brighter futures for our communities,” said Tasha Rountree, director of community relations for Blue Ridge Energy. “I’m proud that Blue Ridge can help by funding creative classroom projects that bring innovative learning experiences to our students.”
Blue Ridge Energy is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, they have provided more than $14 million for over 13,500 classroom projects impacting over 2.5 million students in North Carolina.
Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 78,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Alexander and Wilkes counties. To learn more about the Bright Ideas grants program, visit www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com or contact your local Blue Ridge Energy office.