Ashe and Wilkes County Teachers Win Bright Ideas Grants from Blue Ridge Energy

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Ashe and Wilkes County Teachers Win Bright Ideas Grants from Blue Ridge Energy

Ashe and Wilkes County Teachers Win Bright Ideas Grants from Blue Ridge Energy

Exciting, hands-on learning projects are coming to six local Ashe and Wilkes County classrooms thanks to $7,641 in Bright Ideas grants awarded recently by Blue Ridge Energy to local educators during a special luncheon 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.

To date, Blue Ridge Energy has awarded more than $593,000 in Bright Ideas classroom grants impacting over 110,000 local students and teachers. This year, the cooperative is funding winning grants totaling $25,179 to 21 classrooms in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Avery counties.

Ashe and Wilkes County grant-winning teachers are:

Emily Roten of Blue Ridge Elementary for “Flashlight Fun Fridays.” This $1,100 grant will help develop a love of reading through a set of high-interest and engaging books called “Shine-A-Light” books and flashlights. These books are intended to be read with flashlights and have “secret” images and text that appear only with light is shone on them. Students will use blankets or towels to create forts in the classroom dark enough to use the flashlights to read the books. Using these will create a fun experience to get excited about every week on Flashlight Fun Fridays!

Mazie Sullivan, of Westwood Elementary for “I can! You can! Uke can!” The grant for $1,407 will provide personal and performance development opportunities for fifth and sixth grade students as they learn the ukulele. Based on a karate belt based curriculum, they will move independently through the belt system, earning belts by mastering songs of increased rigor and analyzing their own performance. Working together, they will develop solutions for any problems, from strumming patterns and stage fright.

Kelly Holleman of Ashe County Middle School for “It’s in the Bank! Next Generation Budgeting and Finance.” This $890 grant will be used to help middle school students understand complex economic concepts and make financial judgements in the modern financial world. The project includes mentoring and a novel study to help develop smart financial decision makers.

Brian Armstrong of Ashe County Early College High School for “The World of Cells.” This $1,144 grant will purchase a highly advanced Microscope for the use of every student taking Biology to study the wonders of cells. This microscope, which will be used for many years, provides a more in-depth view of cells than a regular microscope so that students can build a better knowledge than simple diagrams can provide.

Sara Lambert of Westwood Elementary for “Busy Little Bees.” This $1,600 grant will purchase “Bee Bots”, bright yellow robots specially designed for young children as tool to teach sequencing, estimation and problem solving in a fun manner. Students begin learning to code and also provides opportunities to learn algorithms and looping, which are essential to coding. They will help students become inspired, active learners. The Bots will also be used by all ages of elementary school students.

Shannon Kilbey of Boomer-Ferguson Elementary for “Books for Everyone.” This $1,500 grant will purchase new books for the library to keep students interested in reading. Currently, the school has a book “hospital” for older books in need of repair instead of replacing them. This grant will help students have access to additional, new books.

“Blue Ridge Energy supports our schools and teachers to build brighter futures for our communities,” said Tasha Rountree, director of community relations for Blue Ridge Energy. “I’m proud that Blue Ridge can help by funding creative classroom projects that bring innovative learning experiences to our students.”

Blue Ridge Energy is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, they have provided more than $14 million for over 13,500 classroom projects impacting over 2.5 million students in North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 78,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Alexander and Wilkes counties. To learn more about the Bright Ideas grants program, visit or contact your local Blue Ridge Energy office.