What's the Bright Idea?



Article Published: Nov. 25, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
What's the Bright Idea?

Patty Buckner, Allyson McFalls, Terri Miller and James Eichmiller were among those who received grants for class projects from Blue Ridge Electric's Bright Ideas program.

Photo by Scott Nicholson



Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation presented Bright Ideas grants totaling more than $3,500 to four local educator teams during a luncheon ceremony at the cooperative's district office Friday.

Bright Ideas is an academic grants program sponsored by Blue Ridge Electric in conjunction with North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation and its 26 other member electric cooperatives. Bright Ideas grants help further traditional academic learning by funding innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding.

Watauga district manager Susan Jones said, "Children don't even understand how people care about what happens to you, even though they don't know you," adding that the Watauga Education Foundation assisted by reading the 92 grant applications from across the region.
Watauga County grant winners for 2009-10 are:

James Eichmiller, of Watauga High School, for "Clickers for the Classroom." This grant of $1,200 will benefit 100 high school students. The clickers are remote personal response systems that enable students to answer questions anonymously, with the goal of encouraging higher student participation in the classrooms.

Eichmiller said the grant would encourage students to respond to math questions in class and increase student participation.

Allyson McFalls and Kathy Moore, of Blowing Rock Elementary School, for "Environmental Library" to benefit 360 students. This grant of $544 will fund literature and resources for student and teacher access to support a K-8 science curriculum which now includes an environment component.

McFalls said she'd noticed more environmentally oriented content in science curricula over the years and was glad to provide updated resources.

Patty Buckner and Pat Warren, of Bethel Elementary School, for "Creative Center City" to benefit 21 students. This grant of $375 will benefit first grade students by purchasing materials for learning centers so that students can explore and discuss scientific and mathematical concepts.
Students will also learn to work together and independently to build their critical thinking skills.

Buckner said young students had a lot of energy and learned best in cooperative groups and the materials provided by the grant would help match students to different skill levels.

Terri Miller, Tim Walker, Will Selle, Joy Pritchett, Beth Winkler and Judd Pinnix of Green Valley Elementary School, for "Strike Up the Band" to benefit all Watauga County 7th and 8th grade band and string students. This $1,500 grant will help the students receive training in a one-day clinic and conduct a free public performance demonstrating their skills.

Miller while there were benefits to smaller schools, this project would allow many students to gather into a large ensemble for a performance on Dec. 21 in the Rosen Concert Hall on the Appalachian State University campus.

Funds totaling $18,852 are being awarded to 20 classrooms and teachers to benefit thousands of area students, teachers, schools, and communities. The grants are awarded in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Wilkes County.

Blue Ridge Electric is celebrating its 16th year of offering Bright Ideas grants as part of our support and commitment to education. To date, Blue Ridge Electric has awarded over $286,000 and provided direct funding assistance that has impacted over 80,000 students. In Watauga, $76,232 has gone to 82 classrooms with programs that reached 17,200 students. Jones said the number of students who benefited over the years gave her "cold chills."

Jones said Blue Ridge Electric is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, these entities have provided over 7 million dollars for North Carolina teachers and students, and the idea is spreading across the nation, according to Jones.

Watauga County Board of Education chairman Lowell Younce said the school system's success was dependent on the partnerships with businesses and the community and expressed gratitude for the teachers and staff who took the initiative to pursue grants to help classroom instruction.

To learn more about the Bright Ideas grants program, visit Blue Ridge Electric's web site at http://www.BlueRidgeEMC.com.

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