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Educators' ‘Bright Ideas' earn grants from Blue Ridge Electric

Ashe and Wilkes County educators receive Bright Ideas' grants by Blue Ridge Electric. Winning
teachers are, from left, Jennifer Treva, Katie Jones Hodge, Barbara Heufel, Teresa Goodman,
Kim Holleman and Jamie Plummer. Presenting the awards was BRE's Ashe District Manager Kay
Sexton, at right.

Blue Ridge Electric received 83 applications for the 2012-2013 school year from schools in its service area of Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes Counties. Funds totaling $19,296 were awarded to 19 schools that benefited many area students and communities. 

Blue Ridge Electric is celebrating its 19th year of offering Bright Ideas grants as part of its support and commitment to education. To date, Blue Ridge Electric has awarded more than $343,000 and provided direct funding assistance that has had an impact on over 93,000 local students. Since the inception of Bright Ideas grants, North Carolina electric cooperatives have provided more than $7.9 million for 7,700 classroom projects impacting over 1.4 million students in North Carolina.

Representing Ashe County Schools, Phil Howell, thanked Blue Ridge Electric and the teachers for what they do for area schools.

“I’ve watched innovative ideas continue on and continue to grow in our schools,” Howell said at the recent Bright Ideas awards’ luncheon. “We have the greatest teachers in the world, and on behalf of the Board of Education and Dr. Reeves, thanks for what you do.”

David Boone, a board member for Blue Ridge Electric, also attended the luncheon and offered a brief word before the event closed.

“We’re proud of this program,” he said to the group. “You’re part of the best of the best. My mother always said, ‘the cream will rise to the top.’”

About Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation

Blue Ridge Electric is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 74,000 members in Ashe, Alexander, Alleghany, Avery, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties. To learn more about the Bright Ideas grants program, visit Blue Ridge Electric’s website at http://www.BlueRidgeEMC.com or contact the local office at (336) 246-7138.

Originally published: Nov. 14, 2012
Last modified: Nov. 14, 2012

Heather Canter

Schools throughout the nation have faced numerous cuts to their budgets, but Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation is lighting the way for six area educators and their teams to implement some innovative ideas.

Through Bright Ideas grants, teachers can apply for funds to help in their classrooms with projects that otherwise would be difficult to have without financial support. This year, more than $4,180 was awarded to six educators in Ashe and Watauga counties.

Winning teachers included Katie Jones Hodge of Blue Ridge Elementary, Jennifer Treva of Ashe County High School, Barbara Heufel of Mountain View Elementary, Teresa Goodman, also of Mountain View Elementary, Jamie Plummer of Millers Creek Elementary and Kim Holleman of Mt. Pleasant Elementary.

Blue Ridge Electric held an awards' luncheon at the Ashe district office to recognize the teachers and hear a little about each of the teachers' plans for the funds.

BRE Ashe District Manager Kay Sexton welcomed the teachers, their team members, school principals and staff as well as David Boone, a board member with BRE, and other BRE officers and staff.

“Thanks to our board members. They are the decision makers,” Sexton said. “They share in the belief that the Bright Ideas' program needs to continue.

“They are committed to keeping $20,000 in the budget for these grants,” she continued. “The grants help teachers to help students continue to learn.”

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

Hodge and her team, Ashley Bowers, Jerri Eller and Allison Shoemake received a $948 grant to purchase curriculum multiplication wrap-ups. According to the group's application, the “Multiplication Marvels” program will allow the students to become fluent in multiplication facts that are essential as a building block for all mathematics.

“It's a great way to pull the students in and really get them excited about it,” Hodge said.

Treva and teammate, Anita Ferguson, have been working with Mary Rogers, owner of High Country Greenhouse, teaching students how to grow and sell produce a “Green Thumbs” program.

Treva's project received $628 to purchase soil and materials that will allow the students to grow and sell produce locally. Rogers has provided the use of the greenhouse and assisted in establishing the program.

Through the experience they gain, Treva said she believes her students will “one day have their own garden and grow their own food.”

Goodman's idea is “Let's Get Fit and Have Some Fun.” Her team includes Sarah Furches, Jessica Baker, Connie Howell and Cindy Parsons. The $750 grant they received will be used to purchase a physical fitness project, designed to get students up and moving during the day by engaging them in fun, physical activities such as yoga, exercise DVDs and music.

“Our climate doesn't always allow us to go outside for exercise, but we can incorporate non-traditional exercises in the classroom,” Goodman said.

Rounding out the Ashe County winners was Heufel and her project partners, Luci Jackson, Lori Hensley and Debbie Newton. Their grant-winning idea was titled, “Let's ‘LEGO' our imagination.” The $909 grant they were awarded will be used to engage students in Language Arts and build collaborative learning teams.

The other two winners, Plummer and Holleman, were from the Wilkes County school system.

Plummer accepted a $233 grant for “Science and Non-Fiction.” The grant will purchase non-fiction science textbooks to engage students in science and reading lessons while working towards the common core requirements.

A $710 grant for “Science of Energy,” was awarded to Holleman. Her plans entail purchasing Science of Energy kits to help students develop a greater understanding of forms of energy and energy transformation.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.