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Bright Ideas rewarded
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Liberty Bright Ideas 2021
Joseph Martin Elementary School teachers Mikia Frazier and Erick Dickerson were among a number of teachers in Liberty County to receive grants from Coastal Electric Cooperative members to help fund educational projects. Photo provided

From funds to meet students’ basic needs during times of financial crisis to grants that will take education to the next level, 24 Coastal Georgia schools, including some in Liberty County, got a shot in the arm this month to the tune of $65,324.91.

The Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation awarded over $41,000 – the most ever in a single year – in Bright Ideas grants to teachers to fund their innovative classroom and virtual learning project ideas.

In addition, the Foundation presented $1,000 checks to 24 principals in Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties to be donated to their “principal’s funds,” with the intention the monies would be used to meet students’ and teachers’ needs throughout the school year to which only school staff may be privy. Funding for Bright Ideas grants and Principals Funds comes from Coastal Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar through Operation Round Up. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

Since the Bright Ideas program’s inception in 2002, close to $400,000 has been awarded to give local teachers the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action.

“These children are our future and most valuable resource,” said Coastal Electric Cooperative CEO Chris Fettes, who presented donations on behalf of the Foundation. “We are here to support the dedicated people who work hard every day to provide a quality education and enhance our students’ quality of life.”

Here are the 2021 grant winners: 

Lyman Hall Elementary’s Constance Ford won a $848.70 grant for her project, “Will it Adapt?” in which students will solve problems by designing and testing models of plants, and then explaining their results. Kaitlin Colberg will use her $1,998.49 grant to “Take Learning Outdoors” by way of an outdoor classroom space. Exploration activities will be used to help students meet state art, math and science standards, while sensory materials will allow students with varying abilities to take part.

A special presentation also took place at Lyman Hall to honor the late Joseph Harris, former Riceboro mayor, Lyman Hall school teacher and winner of a $1,848.84 grant for his project “STEM LEGO Learning.” Four of Harris’s family members were present to accept the grant on his behalf, which will be taken on by another teacher at the school. Harris’s project will allow students to create, share and revise diverse solutions while inspiring design challenges based on real-world phenomena. Their collaborative efforts will produce engineering models, prototypes and iterate solutions to increasingly complex challenges in an ever-changing world.

At Lewis Frasier Middle School, Jeremy Meadows’s gifted students will use his $1,383.93 grant to research solutions to problems presented during the COVID-19 pandemic, brainstorm solutions and test their creations by creating working models using a 3D printer.

Sherae Howell’s $1,935.88 Bright Ideas grant will allow Bradwell Institute students to "Grab a Byte!" during lunch, and stay informed. The project will also provide an outlet for students to create and display original media submissions, hone their skills, become more engaged at school, and build confidence.

Midway Middle School’s Cynthia Tupper won a $1,997.22 grant for her project, “STEM Academy,” which will allow students to work collaboratively to design and build submersible remotely-operated vehicles capable of retrieving waste from Liberty County waterways, teaching them not only engineering but also care for the environment. Yori Battle’s $1,313.62 grant will be used to create a sensory room that helps students self-regulate, manage anger, reduce anxiety – promoting learning opportunities for students with various special needs.

Denisia Pope’s $1,698 grant will provide a geriatric sensory impairment kit for her healthcare science technology students at Liberty College and Career Academy. The kit uses simulation equipment to mimic common sensory impairment challenges including hearing loss, arthritis and tremors. Students will attempt to perform day-to-day activities while wearing the equipment, giving them a deeper understanding of common sensory issues faced by elderly patients, aiding in the development of empathy, awareness and understanding.

At Waldo Pafford Elementary, Sharon Wrease won a $1,874.60 grant for her project, “Scribble & Write.” The project combines technology with learning to write with the use of an interactive device that will add visuals, sounds and tactile involvement to reach different types of learners with writing, reading and communication skills.

First Preparatory Christian Academy’s Erica Childres won a $1,251.63 grant for the school’s budding broadcast news program. The funds will empower students to produce a weekly video-based morning news program, taking on responsibilities both in front of and behind the camera.

Liberty Elementary’s Jessica Cook, along with fellow third-grade teachers, will use a $2,000 grant to teach students to “Do the Rot Thing,” a hands-on way for students to see how waste is transformed in the environment. Composting will illustrate how matter and energy are conserved, and how responsible waste management can contribute to a more sustainable society.

Joseph Martin Elementary students will learn that “Writing is FUNdamental,” thanks to Mikia Frazier’s $827.52 grant. Her project will allow students to write, illustrate, edit and publish their very own hardcover books. Erick Dickerson’s $777 grant will fund a “Greenhouse Revival,” an avenue for students to learn about plants and energy cycles. Students will improve a vacant greenhouse on school property, then researching types of plants, seasons and energy needs, before planting.

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