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 got a shot in the arm Oct. 6-8 to the tune of $53,694.19.
The Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation awarded over $29,000 in Bright Ideas grants to teachers to fund their innovative classroom and virtual learning project ideas. Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh county teachers applied for the grants in August. Since the Bright Ideas program’s inception in 2002, around $350,000 has been awarded to give local teachers the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action.
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.
“If there was ever a year they could use a little extra funding, this might be the year,” said Coastal Electric Cooperative CEO Chris Fettes, who presented donations on behalf of the Foundation. Fettes received elbow bumps and air hugs from school principals – some whose students are meeting in person and some whose are learning virtually. “These children are our future and most valuable resource. 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.”
Below is a summary of project ideas from Liberty County’s 2020 grant winners:
Liberty Elementary school teacher Brooke Norton won a $485.84 grant for her project to introduce students to hydroponic gardening, allowing them to see the full plant growth process, as well as a way to grow food for their families. Natalie Mondesir and Keva Wallace’s $1,984 grant will allow Liberty Elementary students to code and build with circuits, partnering the technological with the creative.
Button Gwinnett Elementary School teachers Jung Neiman, Carla Schaadt, Jeni Lee, Paulette Leasure, Shana Odom, Amy Bloom, Jenita Thomas and Ashley Schrader won $4,673.55 in grants for tools to help their students learn to write properly, overcoming obstacles that come with technology and distance learning.
Bradwell Institute’s Kathy Shutts won a $2,000 Bright Ideas grant to provide online novels to students. Due to COVID-19, the school had gone completely virtual, meaning students no longer had the use of class sets of novels, but now, they will be able to access the novels they need to have the complete experience and complete their classes.
Denisia Pope’s $2,000 Bright Ideas grant will fund her project enabling students at the Liberty College and Career Academy to explore anatomy and physiology virtually – even allowing them to participate in virtual dissections.
Kaitlyn Caudill, Renesia Jenkins and Kaitlin Colberg’s $1,860 Bright Ideas grant will allow every student at Lyman Hall Elementary to participate in a problem-based learning experience to provide conservation efforts for 17 bird species endangered in Georgia.
Frank Long Elementary’s Anna Rentz won a $1,732 Bright Ideas grant for her project, “In a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” The grant will help purchase a dome planetarium for the school, allowing students to virtually experience faraway places, historical events and other cultures.