Watauga Teachers Win Bright Ideas Grants from Blue Ridge Energy

Last Updated on November 18, 2020 5:10 pm

Boone, North Carolina (November 18, 2020) – Exciting, hands-on learning projects are coming to local Watauga classrooms thanks to $4,994 in Bright Ideas grants awarded recently by Blue Ridge Energy to local educators during a special virtual celebration honoring winning teachers and their schools. Bright Ideas is an academic grants program sponsored annually by Blue Ridge Energy. Bright Ideas grants help further traditional academic learning by funding innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding.

For its 26th year of grant making, Blue Ridge Energy is awarding $25,139 to 28 classrooms in its service area of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Avery counties. To date, Blue Ridge Energy has awarded more than $544,000 in Bright Ideas classroom grants that has impacted over 100,000 local students and teachers.

Watauga/Avery counties grant winning teachers are:

Hope Mough, Bethel Elementary, for “Stretch for Success.” This $456 grant will be used to purchase resistance bands for students in grades 5-8 to increase flexibility through stretching.

Michelle Griffin, Bethel Elementary, for “Computer Lab Conversion.” The grant for $520 will purchase three Flexispot Cycle Desk Bikes for students to use while using computers in computer skills class to offset being sedentary while connected to technology.

Olivia Boudwin, Bethel Elementary, for “Natural Preschool.” This $600 grant will enable students to engage in music, art, fine and gross motor activities, reading, writing, and dramatic play all while being outside.

Chelsie Eldreth, Bethel Elementary, for “Learning with Lego!” The grant for $668 will purchase nine Lego kits of different cities and structures around the world. Students in the 6th grade will learn about architecture, construction, and culture with a hands-on perspective.

McKenna Wild, Green Valley Elementary, for “Building Knowledge with STEM.” This $500 grant will purchase hands-on materials to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning that spur creativity and innovation.

Dr. Laurie Gill, Blowing Rock Elementary, for “Improving Spelling & Writing Online with CoWriter App.” This $750 grant will be used to purchase a two-year subscription to the writing and spelling app “CoWriter”, a program that has been shown to improve students’ spelling ability.

Joelle Poore, Freedom Trail Elementary, for “Coding Detectives.” This $1,500 grant will combine the curriculum of reading and technology when students read challenging mystery novels and visually retell the story to their classmates by drawing a story map that incorporates beginning coding commands.

According to Watauga District Manager Heidi Ragan, these winning teachers are also helping their schools as Blue Ridge Energy is awarding an additional $150 to each of their schools to assist with COVID-related teaching challenges. “This is a unique time for our students and educators. I’m pleased and proud that Blue Ridge is able to fund creative classroom ideas and provide a little help to each of the winning schools.” Ragan explained.

Blue Ridge Energy is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, they have provided more than $12.9 million for classroom projects impacting over 2.5 million students in North Carolina. Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 76,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Alexander and Wilkes counties. To learn more about the Bright Ideas grants program, visit Blue Ridge Energy’s web site at or contact your local Blue Ridge Energy office.

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