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Teachers win Bright Ideas Grants sponsored by Blue Ridge Energy

Exciting, hands-on learning projects are coming to local classrooms thanks to $4,173 in Bright Ideas grants awarded recently by Blue Ridge Energy to local educators during a special luncheon honoring winning teachers and their principals.  

Bright Ideas is an academic grants program sponsored by Blue Ridge Energy 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.

Caldwell County grant winners are:

Abby Hudgens of Granite Falls Elementary for “Full STEAM Ahead for ESL.”

This $250 grant for Full STEAM Ahead in ESL will encourage English Language Learners to unleash their creativity while providing access to grade-level content and language opportunities through simple, hands-on manipulatives and applications.

Mark Dula of South Caldwell High School for “Spartan Land Mapping.

The grant for $700 will increase student knowledge of surveying principles, land mapping, and civil engineering applications by conducting exercises and real-world assignments outside of the classroom. Students will use transit and precise measuring equipment to develop the angular geometry required for accurate AutoCAD drawings.

Sara Jo Starnes of Hibriten High School for “Timelooper: Using Virtual Reality to View Historical Sites.”

This $530 grant allows students to learn about historic moments in global history using virtual reality. Students will experience these moments as though they were there using virtual reality. The TimeLooper Starter Package comes with a Google-Style Cardboard VR headset and over 50 TimeLooper educational videos of American and world history, including the American Revolution, Civil Rights movement, end of the Cold War, WWII and many others. 

Lynn Aydlett of Valmead Elementary for “Diversity and Tolerance: A Lifelong

Attitude .”

The grant for $1,103 incorporates social study lessons, literature, and dramatic play to teach children about diversity and tolerance. The primary focus will be acceptance and understanding of people with disabilities. This will include, but not be limited to, people in wheelchairs, loss of limbs, the hearing impaired, autism and mental health.

Chad Davis of Gateway School for “Gardening in Schools.”

This $400 grant will teach the importance of agriculture-economic sustainability, help students learn about plant-human correlations, establish a sense of belonging within the school community, and increase student achievement. 

Kimberley Hindman of Collettsville Elementary for “Science Lab: From Drab to


The $1,190 grant will update, replace and enhance outdated science equipment. Previous equipment limited the ability of students to work directly with classroom materials.

Blue Ridge Energy received 81 applications for the 2018-2019 school year from schools in its service area of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, and Avery counties. Funds totaling $22,499 were awarded to 26 classrooms to benefit hundreds of local students.