Blue Ridge Electric rewards innovative teachers for their Bright Ideas
by Whitney Weaver
Over 250 students from three Ashe County schools will benefit from the passion, dedication, and grant writing skills of their teachers who were awarded Bright Ideas grants on Nov. 8.
As part of its commitment to local education, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation presented Bright Ideas grants totaling more than $4,180 to six educator teams from Ashe and Wilkes Counties during a luncheon ceremony at Blue Ridge Electric’s Ashe district office.
Many were present to honor grant recipients including Blue Ridge Electric representatives Lee Layton, David Boone, Renee Whitener, Kay Sexton, Sandra Hicks and Grey Scheer along with principals Callie Grubb and David Blackburn, assistant principal from Miller’s Creek Elementay Val Parsons, and Phil Howell representing Ashe County Schools.
This year’s Ashe County winners were Katie Jones Hodge from Blue Ridge Elementary, Jennifer Treva from Ashe County High and Barbara Heufel and Teresa Goodman from Mountain View Elementary.
Hodge and her team members Ashley Bowers, Jerri Eller and Allison Shoemake received a grant in the amount of $948.33 for their “Multiplication Marvels” project that will benefit 60-65 math students.
Hodge’s project proposes the use of hands-on learning aides called multiplication wrap-ups to help students become fluent in multiplication facts – an essential concept for division, fractions, and other cumulative math principles. Hodge said, “Students always ask for them and want to use them in class. It’s great to see students get excited about learning multiplication facts.”
Jennifer Treva, her assistant Anita Ferguson and greenhouse owner Mary Rogers received $628.49 for their “Green Thumbs” project that will benefit 28 students in a cross curricular network of math, science, technology, English and horticulture.
As part of occupational preparation classes, Treva’s students work at High Country Greenhouse a few times a week in order to grow and sell produce. Treva will be purchasing soil and materials to continue this project. “This helps students learn about work responsibilities and become part of the everyday workplace,” said Treva. The students write about their experiences in the greenhouse and have made a website to document their work.
Barbara Heufel and team members Luci Jackson, Lori Hensley and Debbie Newton were awarded $909.43 for their project, “Let’s LEGO Our Imagination” that will allow 74 language arts and writing students to literally build a story.
Having a predominantly male student population in her grades, Heufel identified a system that would be more appealing to their hands-on learning style. “It’s hard to get boys to write, but they love to play,” said Heufel. Students, in groups of collaborative learning teams, will use the LEGO pieces to build a story starter from which they will write a story with a beginning, middle and end. The project also includes a software component and students take pictures of what they have created, integrating technology into their writing.
Teresa Goodman along with Sarah Furches, Jessica Baker, Connie Howell and Cindy Parsons are getting 95 first graders up and moving with a $750 grant for their program, “Let’s Get Fit and Have Some Fun.”
“Research shows that children need the opportunity to get out and exercise their bodies because it also exercises their brains,” said Goodman. The project is designed promote a positive attitude toward fitness by engaging them in fun physical activities including yoga, dance and balance moves. “These activities will be incorporated as ‘brain breaks’ throughout the day and some activities incorporate reading and math components,” said Goodman.
Winners from Wilkes County were Jamie Plummer from Miller’s Creek Elementary to purchase non-fiction science text books and Kim Holleman from Mount Pleasant Elementary to purchase Science of Energy kits.
Blue Ridge Electric is celebrating its 19th year of offering Bright Ideas Grants that help further traditional academic learning by funding innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding. Over 19 years, Blue Ridge Electric has awarded over $343,000 in grants, assisting 93,000 students.
“These teachers are truly passionate about giving students the opportunity to learn,” said Sexton.
Representing Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves, Howell thanked Blue Ridge Electric for providing funding for these projects. “What you provide is seed money. Over the years I have watched innovative ideas continue and grow. With our limited resources we are barely able to provide the basics, but the Bright Ideas grants give teachers the opportunity to take students to the next level, developing critical thinking and processing skills that will help them to be successful,” said Howell.
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