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In February, Tri-County EMC surprised 26 local teachers with $30,000 in educational grants. Since 2008, Tri-County Electric Membership Cooperative has provided more than $130,000 in grants to local schools. Funded by unclaimed capital credits, the grants help teachers improve education in their classrooms through innovative projects that would otherwise not be funded. Georgia certified public or private school teachers in grades Pre-K through 12 in Baldwin, Jones, Putnam, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties qualify to apply.

Outside judges evaluated the 94 blind applications that were submitted for innovation, goals, objectives, student involvement and budget. A total of 26 grants were funded. Thanks to all teachers who applied in 2015-2016 and we look forward to seeing your applications in 2016-2017. The Bright Ideas Grant winners are listed below. View Details to see photos of each grant presentation.


Monica Daniel, Blandy Hills Elementary School

Step into Math and Science: $1,152.00
This project will teach students the importance of physical activity while incorporating math and science lessons. Each student will be given a pedometer to count steps, movement and calories burned. This data will be used to compare and order numbers, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Students will also identify the number of calories in various foods and attempt to “step off” the calories throughout the day.

Yvonne Thompson, Blandy Hills Elementary School
Math in Armed Forces Careers: $811.00
This project will allow students to learn the importance of math in military careers by researching them both locally and abroad. Students will also partner with soldiers to see how math impacts their world on a daily basis. The overall project will increase writing skills and research procedures and allow students to see math in real life situations.

Lee Blount, Baldwin Early Learning Center
SOS…Sensory on the Spot: $752.87
This project will provide an area for sensory breaks inside of a special education classroom. The goal of the project is to help students with autism lessen inappropriate behaviors and help students begin to self-regulate with their own sensory integration.

Clay McElheney, GMC Preparatory School
Kinematics of Water Rockets: $1,065.90
This project will teach students will to calculate velocity, acceleration, altitude, distance and more as they construct and launch a ballistic rocket from everyday materials. This project will help students envision how all of the variables they calculate come together to power a rocket.   


Shannon Smith, Clifton Ridge Middle School

News in the Classroom: $1,175.68
This project will use Amazon Fire Tablets to bring local, national and global events into the classroom. Students will use the tablets to read current events, adjusted to their reading level, from around the world. After reading the articles, the students will be quizzed on the articles to identify areas of weakness, increasing their reading skills and current events knowledge. 

Pamela Elkins, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Cubes and Calculations: $1,025.00
This project will give students a hands on approach to mathematics by using Unifix Cubes to supplement lessons on division, ratio reasoning, statistics and geometry. The cubes will allow students to see math in a 3-D format and help them to put their thought processes down on paper.

Kristen Beaver, Gray Elementary School
Ants in the Pants: $1,485.16
This project will improve in-seat behavior and attention to work for students who struggle with attention disorders or deficiencies. By using alternative seating and sensory tools, students will have a way to channel excess energy and build movement into their day, helping to satisfy the need to move and freeing up their energy to learn.

Monica Tritto, Gray Elementary School
To The Beat of Their Own Bucket Drum: $674.13
With this project, students will improve their bilateral brain stimulation by playing bucket drums. The drumming will also reinforce mathematical concepts, encourage self-expression, increase memory and fine motor skills and help students connect with each other.

April Wade, Jones County High School
Adobe Cloud Software/Paw Print Designs, $1,495.00
Students will run their own school-based enterprise, Paw Print Designs. The project will teach students how to run a promotional business and give them hands-on real world experience. Students will use Adobe Creative Cloud software to learn how to produce promotional items as well as learn the back end of the business, including cash-flow statements, evaluating pricing strategies, processing returns and exchanges, determining inventory counts and more.

Jessica Smith, Jones County High School
Virtual Business: $1,500
This project will use Virtual Business Software to allow students to build and manage their own virtual business. In the program, students will gain real-world experience by learning about recruiting, resume-building, hiring, employee supervision, management, accounting, sales and more.

Kristi Harley, Jones County Pre-K
Cooking in the Classroom: $995.20

This project will use a portable kitchen to involve students in preparing healthy snacks and encourage a lifestyle of healthy eating. Students will also learn how to garden, follow a recipe, and measure ingredients. This project will introduce students to sequence of events and provide lifelong skills that will enable them to become more self-sufficient.

Jamy Meeks, Jones County Pre-K
Pre-K Playground: $1,489.85
This project will improve the cognitive, physical and social development of children by increasing the opportunities for play. By enhancing the playground, students with disabilities will be able to develop social skills by participating in play with their peers.

Rusty Owens, Turner Woods Elementary School
A More STEAMulating Classroom: $1,465.76
This project will enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) learning by using hands on activities. Learning will be put into the hands of the students as they use drones, robotics, electromagnetic kits, circuit kits and more. The goal of this project is to expose students to different career paths and encourage their confidence, motivation and problem-solving skills.

Danielle Wheeler, Wells Elementary School
Sight Word Central: $497.58
This project will build sight-word fluency in Kindergarten students by using multi-sensory songs. Each sight word has its own song that students will sing and dance to as they spell the word. The music and movement will engage students and encourage their learning.

Crystal Adams, Wells Elementary School
Building Mathematicians Through Math Centers $1,194.00
This project will create math centers to allow students to work independently or in small groups to practice important math skills including place value, addition, subtraction, money, time, measurement, data collection and geometry. This will allow students to deepen their understanding of math content in a fun, engaging way that appeals to all learning styles.

Amy Marlowe, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Cougar Robotics: $1,400.00
This project will allow students to increase their interest in science and technology by building robots. As students build on their science skills through robotic design and engineering, they will also develop STEM skill sets that are highly desirable for the future workforce.

Elizabeth Allison, Wells Elementary School
Fractured to Whole: $1,376.65
Students will be able to play as they learn fractions using a variety of games, flash cards, fraction ruler kits and more. By using these concrete models, students will gain a deeper understanding of fractions by learning how pieces can be put together to make a whole.


Marcina Lee, Gatewood School
Home Ec 2015 Style: $400
Students will learn the lost art of sewing as they sharpen their coordination skills, thinking skills and math skills. With a sewing machine, middle school students will learn how to make a pillow case, an apron, a teddy bear and other crafts.

Linda Walker, Putnam County Elementary School
iPad Science Lab for Student Engagement: $1,376.65
Students will gain an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math as they use iPad mini tablets for classroom activities. This project will allow students will research current science topics, use interactive science apps and create their own movies.

Cathy Tuel, Putnam County Elementary School
Walk it Out at Recess: $1,349.00
This project will allow elementary school students to “walk across the United States.” Students will wear pedometers and upload their steps to the computer each day. The miles walked will be mapped out to see how far they get across the country, just by walking during the school day. This will promote a healthy lifestyle and incorporate math skills as students see their steps change into miles.

April Smith, Putnam County High School
Autism: Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration: $350
This project will provide sensory integration classroom resources to help children with autism interact with the world around them. Sensory integration therapy changes how sensations are processed by the brain, helping children with autism make better sense of the information they receive.

Kelly Smith, Putnam County High School
Grow Your Own Way: $1,288.18
For this project, high school students will create a school garden. Students will learn how to cultivate a garden location, mend and make adjustments to soil, select proper vegetables, determine nutrient levels, and learn harvesting techniques. The goal of the project is to raise the students’ interest in a varied diet, help them understand vegetable production, gain knowledge of ecosystems and the plant cycle.

Mary Sue McMichael, Putnam County Middle School
Why Do You Always Have to Complicate Things, Rube?: $1,500.00
Students will plan and construct a simple machine using marbles, dominoes, gears, pulleys and other everyday materials to enhance their knowledge of physical science. Students will demonstrate their understanding not only in the construction of the machine, but also through a detailed analysis of their finished product.

Becky Nipper, Putnam County Middle School
Makerspaces, Media Center and Magic, Oh My!: $1,156.81
This project will create a Makerspace to increase students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math activities. Using Makey Makey, an invention kit for the 21st century, students will be able to tinker, collaborate and create through self-directed learning.

Holly Hardie, Putnam County Primary School
Math and Movement: $1,402.39
This project will give Kindergarten students the opportunity to learn math through fun exercises.  By using math movement mats, students will hop, skip and jump while performing basic math skills including counting, shape identification and more.


Daphne Todd, Wilkinson County Middle School
I Can See Clearly Now: $1,497.84
Students will connect words from lecture, the vocabulary lesson and pictures from a textbook into a real, virtual reality experience. With Google Goggle Cardboard and the Expeditions app, students will be able to experience an ocean adventure, a hike in the rainforest, a safari ride, and more to reinforce what they learn about these places in the classroom.

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