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Decorative ImageIn February, Tri-County EMC surprised 27 teachers with educational grants totaling $30,000. Since 2008, Tri-County Electric Membership Cooperative has provided nearly $190,000 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.


This year, outside judges evaluated the 90 blind applications that were submitted for innovation, goals, objectives, student involvement and budget. In the Tri-County service area, a total of 27 grants were funded with a grand total of $30,000 distributed to schools in Baldwin, Putnam, Jones and Wilkinson Counties. Thanks to all teachers who applied in 2016-2017 and we look forward to seeing your applications in 2017-2018. The Bright Ideas Grant winners are listed below. Click here to see photos of all check presentations. 



Haley Fordham, Putnam County Primary School
Full STEM Ahead, $1,349.59

Full STEM Ahead is a hands-on mobile stem lab that will allow students the opportunity to plan, engineer, build and develop creations through the use of heavy duty 3D Rok Blocks. By using various scientific standards and mathematical strategies, kids will develop the fundamentals to STEM learning.

April Smith, Putnam County High School
Cocooning, $211.98

For students with autism, deep pressure and swaddling can help calm students and allow them to learn easier. This project will add two Inflatable Peapods to the classroom which will serve as a safe sitting spot for students that are overstimulated or want to feel secure. This will decrease distractions in the classroom and help students overcome stimulations to focus on learning.

Linda Walker, Putnam County Elementary School
Students As Authors, $1,500.00

This project will give third grade students the chance to immerse themselves in the writing process. Students will receive a visit from Georgia Author Lola Schafer. Prior to the visit, students will read multiple books by the author to learn about the author’s writing style. At the conclusion of the unit, students will write their own informational books in the style of the author.

Ivy Carnes, Putnam County Primary School
Beginning Engineers, $1,479.10

Students will learn how to use science, technology, engineering and math to build everyday structures in this project. As they build these structures, students will learn basic STEM concepts with a focus on engineering. Once the structure is built, students will demonstrate how they were able to complete the project and how it could benefit us in the future.

MarySue McMichael, Putnam County Middle School
Student Takeover – Making Student Thinking Visible, $597.26

In this project, students will plan, create, edit and publish instructional videos related to topics covered in their math class. These videos will be used to introduce and review math concepts. This project will incorporate math skills as well as video creation and editing.

Cara Youmans, Putnam County Primary School
Mini Needs, $1,455.40

In this project students will use iPad Minis to use computer programs for reading, math, science and social studies. This will also allow students to use Epic Books, which opens the availability of books beyond what is carried in the school library. The goal of the project is to increase reading and math scores as they have more opportunities to use the learning tools on the iPads.

Dawn Wicker, Putnam County Primary School
Wii are Moving, Wii are Fit, Wii are Happy!, $1,495

In this project, students will use a WiiFit Classroom System to learn about health, the importance of physical activity and the risks of obesity. The goal of the project is to get students excited about fitness and excited about learning. The project will also transfer students’ love of technology to a love of physical activity.

Natalie Waller, Putnam County Primary School
21st Century Readers, $1,457.31

The purpose of this project is to use iPad Minis to help students become digitally literate. Access to iPads will allow students to store a library of books on their developmental level and engage in book discussions with their peers. Success of the project will be measured by reading and language arts standards along with reading level.


Graham Nash, Jones County High School
Box Trucks Recycling Collection, $1,440.00

In order to increase the recycling efforts of Jones County Schools and give opportunities to students with disabilities, this project will set up recycling collection stations at schools all over the county. Students will be in charge of collecting and compressing the cardboard using a cardboard baler and measuring the amount of cardboard recycled each month.

Vickie Thigpen, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Portable Outdoor Classroom, $955.56

This project will allow students to learn about outside ecosystems with a portable outdoor classrooms. Students will examine macroinvertebrates, leaves, soil, insects and water with microscopes. Students will create scientific drawings of their discoveries as they learn about ecology first hand.

Cindy Bloodworth, Turner Woods Elementary School
Kindles for the Classroom, $619.86

This project will allow students to incorporate technology into their daily learning activities. The kindles will be used in daily center rotation for students to use educational websites to study reading and math. These websites keep a track record of student’s progress that will be monitored by the teacher and help identify the student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Tate Wilson, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Reading Up, $1,222.40

With the purchase of a Reading Lab, this project will allow students that are reading below grade level the ability to enhance reading fluency, reading comprehension and reading level. The lab will help to reestablish a productive learning and growth pathway to redevelop reading skills that may have been missed during their academic careers.

Jennifer Holland, Dames Ferry Elementary School
We’re Going On A Trip, $1,419.94

Through the purchase of virtual reality headsets and Google Chrome Books, students will be able to “travel” around the world using virtual reality. Through this type of learning, students will have increased creativity, research capabilities, questioning and organization skills. It will also expand their knowledge of the world as they learn about places around the globe.

Jennifer Thompson, Turner Woods Elementary School
Creating Thinkers, Readers and Researchers in Kindergarten, $302.35

Through this project, students will become more confident in their ability to research and redeliver information. After reading about science concepts specific to their reading level, students will deliver an oral presentation, digital presentation and complete writing activities based on the topic that was researched. Students will be assessed with literacy scores before and after the project to determine growth.

Liz Allison, Mattie Wells Elementary School
Math and Movement, $1,430.00

Students will incorporate movement into their math lessons using floor mats. Using the floor mats, students will be able to move across patterns and hop to the answer as they learn about fractions, place values, factors and time. The goal of this project is to stimulate both the left and right side of the brain through movement for a deeper understanding of math lessons.

Julie Eavenson, Dames Ferry Elementary School
Sensory Overload, $406.57

Research has shown that the greater amount of sensory input a student with disabilities has, the greater success they experience. This project will help to create a sensory room for students in the autism program. The room will have objects such as weighted blankets, ear muffs and a calming LED projector for students to use when they feel overstimulated in the classroom, allowing them to stay calm and learn.

Lolita Moore, Gray Elementary School
iPrint, iPad, iGrow, $1,466.93

Students will get a taste of 3D technology with this project. Using iPads, students will build, model and create a variety of figures. After the figures are created, students will print these objects using a 3D printer. This project compliments STEAM curriculum while encouraging creativity in students.

Pamela Elkins, Clifton Ridge Middle School
STEM Graphing Calculator Activities, $1,293.50

The goal of this project is to demonstrate the correlation of math and science to students. Students will use graphing calculators to record data and produce graphs aligned to mathematical and scientific principles. Students will be able to associate math and science outside of the classroom by calculating measurements such as how fast water will boil at certain temperatures or testing the velocity of a moving stream of water.

Richard Thomas, Gray Station Middle School
Simply Shocking, $1,492.60

This project will teach students how physical science concepts affect their lives by allowing them to create their own electricity. By performing 24 different experiments on topics including energy transformations, electromagnetism, simple circuits, Ohm’s Law, electricity storage and more, students will get a hands-on experience bringing concepts from the text book to life. 

Amber Simpson, Dames Ferry Elementary School
It’s Off To Work We Go!, $1,378

The goal of this project is to improve the work skills of students with autism in order to make them more successful with academic or vocational skills. Students will use specially designed task boxes to complete independently or with minimal assistance from neurotypical peers. This will encourage independence and social interaction for students.

Carla Whatley, Dames Ferry Elementary School
Active Learning With Active Seating, $1,460.00

This projects will improve productivity in students by using active seating. It has been proven that slight movements while sitting movements are shown to keep the body more engaged and reduces the negative side effects of prolonged sitting. By using the active seats, the goal of the project is to increase student performance and attention spans.

Heather Jackson, Gray Elementary School
Full STEAM Ahead!, $858.85

The goal of this project is to incorporate STEAM lessons into the Kindergarten classroom. With this grant, STEAM lessons will increase from monthly to weekly as more lesson materials are added to the classroom. The STEAM resources will add excitement to the lessons and allow students to make real-world connections as they learn.

Denise Ard, Mattie Wells Elementary School
Moving and Grooving to Sight Words and Reading, $497.58

By the end of Kindergarten, students are expected to know 100 sight words. Using Heidi Songs DVDs and CDs, students will be able to learn creative dance moves to go with each word, helping them remember the word. The movement in the classroom will also increase the attention spans of the students.

Scarlett Scoville, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Mobymax Makes A Difference, $1387.08

With this project, special needs students will have access to the Mobymax K-8 Curriculum. This teaching tool is completely personalized by measuring a student’s abilities, providing instruction for critical skills that are missing and providing data to measure the student’s success.            


Amy Lee, Georgia Military College Prep School
1920s Living Museum, $929

To introduce the novel The Great Gatsby, tenth grade students will complete a research project over the 1920s.  Students will dress in period attire as they deliver an engaging presentation. After completing the research, students will have an appreciation for the 1920s and, therefore, a deeper and better understanding of the content of the book. 

Jennifer Deason, Georgia Military College Prep School
Stepping and Pepping Up PE, $1,114.14

Students will incorporate their love for music and physical activity in their PE Class. Students will use stability balls and rhythm sticks to create music and movement while a pedometer tracks their fitness activity. The goal of this project is to encourage student to increase their physical activity through simple things, such as making music. 

Dawson Roberts, Georgia College Early College
GCEC STEAM Cultural Epidemic Project, $780.00

In this project students will research various cultural epidemics and use their research to write, direct and develop a short film about their chosen topic. Aside from film editing and design, this build confidence in students and enhance editing, storytelling, research and marketing skills. These short films will be submitted to local and national student short films competitions.


Bright Ideas Grant Recipients 2016-2017

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