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Brunswick Electric presents Bright Ideas grants to teachers at luncheon

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation’s (BEMC) headquarters in Shallotte buzzed with excitement as teachers, principals and superintendents from Brunswick and Columbus counties joined BEMC directors for the annual Bright Ideas Educational Grant Awards luncheon on Thursday, Nov 13.

The co-op awarded $33,252 in grants, topping last year’s largest amount to date. This brings the total awarded since BEMC started the program in 1993 to nearly $310,000. Bright Ideas grants are awarded for creative teaching programs that are not funded within the usual school budget process.

Addressing the group, Robert W. Leavitt Jr., CEO of BEMC, thanked the winning teachers for their dedication and creativity and the principals and superintendents for their support. He also asked teachers to help students learn more about energy.

“Children and adults in our society all need to understand that energy efficiency can go a long way toward solving the energy needs of the future,” Leavitt said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean doing without, it means being smarter about how we use it, like switching to CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. BEMC also wants children to understand that it takes many kinds of generation to provide all the power we need, including coal and nuclear, as well as developing renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass.”

Each teacher spoke briefly to his or her peers and BEMC’s board of directors about how the grant would affect their students. The projects generally involved creative and new materials or equipment aimed at engaging the students in interesting ways to learn basic skills.

BEMC originated the Bright Ideas program in 1994. Other co-ops across the state joined in quickly and today all 27 electric cooperatives in North Carolina participate, providing teachers with funding to help them provide top-quality instruction.

Since 1994, the cooperatives have awarded Bright Ideas grants totaling nearly $6 million dollars to teachers in grades K-12 across the state for more than 5,400 projects affecting about a million students. Bright Ideas grants can be as much as $2,000 each and are available to all teachers in grades K-12.

The following were grant recipients in Brunswick County:

Kelly S. Page, Academy of Coastal Carolina:ee“I See, I Experience, I Understand Math,” hands-on learning using math manipulatives for creative games, competitions and more.

Lisa Simmons, Bolivia Elementary: “Beyond Question,” interactive remote system allows students to answer questions and get immediate feedback and keeps the students engaged in an age of video games.

Cathy Martino, Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary: “Treasure Hunt,” students will learn how to use handheld GPS units to locate hidden treasure, gaining a more global perspective, learning about latitude and longitude, compass and map skills.

Tammy Jenkins, Lincoln Elementary: “Game Day,” third-grader math engagement program using games for group play and independent practice to support a variety of ability levels and learning styles.

Jamie Madren, NBHS: “At My Finger Tip,” digital writing pad will allow teaching from any place in the classroom and will also be used by students to present their projects to the entire class.

Kari Curran, Shallotte Middle: “Get a Life, Grab a Book,” expand library collections with updated print and electronic materials; engage students with book clubs, literacy circles, essay contests, fostering a love of reading to extend beyond school walls.

Katherine Horne, South Brunswick Middle: “Cougars Have HEART,” student research, planning and implementation of several “green” projects on campus; may include planting rain garden, building compost bins, installing rain barrels or improving the recycling program.

Dawn York, Supply Elementary: “Out of the Box Math Kits,” research-based math kits that emphasize a hands-on, problem-solving approach for fourth-graders.

Janie Parrett, Union Elementary: “Parrett Publishers,” purchase laptop computers for using the Internet as a class to research information for story reference, broaden student experiences, spur writing ideas, show virtual fieldtrips and explore illustration ideas.

Barbara Evans, Waccamaw: “Write Smart with AlphaSmart,” specialized tools and software for learning disabled, autistic or behaviorally impaired student to improve skills in reading, writing and math.

Pamela Fitzgerald, WBHS: “Making the Most of Mathematics,” assessment software and interactive student response systems for algebra and pre-calculus classes.