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

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


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


West Jefferson, North Carolina (January 13, 2022) – Exciting, hands-on learning projects are coming to seven local classrooms thanks to $7,435 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.

To date, Blue Ridge Energy has awarded more than $568,000 in Bright Ideas classroom grants impacting over 110,000 local students and teachers. This year, the cooperative is funding winning grants totaling $24,954 to 24 classrooms in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Avery counties.

Ashe/Wilkes counties grant-winning teachers are:


Kevin Miller of Westwood Elementary for “Go Back to the Backyard.” This $811 grant focuses on getting students involved in simple games that can be played at school or home with any age. These traditional games will enhance social interaction and encourage movement and play.

Shera Ashley of Mountain View Elementary for “Let the Good Times Roll!” The grant for $1,478 will help students to engage in communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking through new indoor games.

Jessica Miller of Westwood Elementary for “Outdoor Sensory Learning Environment for Special Needs Children.” This $950 grant will allow students to expand their learning outside of the classroom walls. This unique outdoor area will provide a safe, mask free, and separate setting to enrich their skills while learning outside.

Taylor Hinrichs of Westwood Elementary for “A Taste of Something Different.” The grant for $341 will fund a project that encompasses the use of food to introduce cultures to students to spark conversations about cultural differences, literary reflections, personal experiences, and global awareness.

Kelly Pipes of Wilkes Early College High for “Don’t Stop… Reading!” This $1,482 grant will provide a comfortable, safe reading space where students can check out books, participate in book clubs, and lose themselves in the pages of their next favorite novels.

Kelly Holleman of Central Wilkes Middle for “High Tech History: Learning about the Civil War.” This $1,373 grant will help students experience a “living museum” that exposes them to different perspectives including varying socio-economic classes, women, and the African American community.

Olivia Van Buskirk of Wilkes Early College High for “Immersive Young Adult Novels to Spark Imaginations.” This $1,000 grant will develop a pleasure-reading library for students with “fun” books to make reading a positive part of school culture.

According to Director of Community Relations Tasha Rountree, “This is a unique time for our students and educators. I’m proud that Blue Ridge is able to fund creative classroom ideas.”

Blue Ridge Energy is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, they have provided more than $13.6 million for classroom projects impacting over 2.7 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.