MOREHEAD CITY — Thirty-two teachers in Carteret and Craven counties received unexpected cash this week for classroom projects.

They are recipients of Bright Ideas grants, which were awarded Monday through Wednesday, from Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative to support innovative classroom projects.

Grant recipients’ projects ranged from purchasing equipment for podcasts and journalism broadcasts to installation of a weather station.

Multiple teachers apply for the competitive grants each year, and winners are not informed until they receive a surprise visit in their classrooms from CCEC representatives who present the checks.

CCEC Communications Director Lisa Taylor-Galizia handed out checks Wednesday to some of the grateful recipients.

“These teachers really go to bat for their students by applying for these grants,” Ms. Taylor-Galizia said in a press release about the awards. “The innovative and creative learning initiatives they have come up with are impressive, and we are proud to help them with these projects.”

One winner, Atlantic Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Deidre Arthur, will be recognized for her “Weather Station Informed” project during the radio broadcast of the Friday, Nov. 8 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball game. Local radio stations airing the game can be found at sportsaffiliates.learfield.com/affiliates/north-carolina.

Ms. Arthur said she is excited to receive the $794 grant to purchase the weather station.

“The study of weather is a big deal in the fifth-grade curriculum and now we can have some data for our area of the county,” she said. “We have used data from the National Weather Service, but this way we can study the data that is happening here. We plan to give access to all grades to use the equipment.”

She added that she is honored to be recognized for her project during the Chapel Hill game.

“I was so excited to receive a grant and I felt so lucky that the grant idea was that well received,” Ms. Arthur said.

Ms. Taylor-Galizia said $23,316 in education grants were given to teachers this year. The check amounts varied depending on the projects, and the most that was given was $1,000.

Teachers apply through mid-September of each year for the grants, and judges decide which projects will receive awards. Ms. Taylor-Galizia said the application process will reopen for interested teachers in April 2020.

Teachers receiving awards Wednesday said they couldn’t do their projects without the funds.

“It means a lot. I don’t have the money to do this,” Newport Middle School academically and intellectually gifted teacher Amanda McCall said after receiving $530 to purchase microphones, a soundboard and other equipment to do student podcasts.

Broad Creek Middle School technology facilitator Megan Pinkerton, who received a $680 grant to purchase a camera and other supplies for a journalism class, said it’s been especially difficult for teachers this year since the General Assembly has not adopted a budget.

“Funds for supplies had been frozen for a while and we appreciate organizations that provide grants for teachers like this,” Ms. Pinkerton said.

Morehead City Middle School Project Lead the Way teacher Charles Elliott, who teaches robotics and the science, technology, engineering and math program, received equipment for the school’s underwater remotely-operated vehicle club, which he coaches.

“It’s really nice to be able to add that extra level for our kids,” Mr. Elliott said.

Morehead City Middle School Principal Adam Olander said he appreciated the support for public education the CCEC Bright Ideas program provides.

“This program has been awesome for our community,” Mr. Olander said. “It shows there are groups in our corner in a time when it seems public education is getting beat up on.”  

Croatan High School agriculture teacher Katherine Huffman received her check Wednesday on her birthday. She and fellow agriculture teacher Will Sutton received $1,000 to purchase a robotic lawnmower for agriculture and Future Farmers of America classes.

“This was a great birthday present,” Ms. Huffman said.

Terri Riley, the AIG teacher for Morehead City Elementary School, received $325.85 to purchase books for the school’s Battle of the Books team.

“They have 15 books on the list they need to read and this will help purchase some of those,” Ms. Riley said. “I’ve also had parents donating money.”

One set of 15 paperback books cost $105.82, she said, so the additional funds will put a dent in getting the books.

Since the Bright Ideas grant program began in 1994, the cooperative and its foundation have contributed nearly $513,000 to area educators.

CCEC is one of 26 member-owned electric cooperatives in the state offering Bright Ideas grants to teachers. Statewide North Carolina cooperatives awarded more than $600,000 this year.

To learn more about the Bright Ideas grant program, visit ncbrightideas.com.

County educators receiving Bright Ideas grants, their schools and names of their projects are:

•    Mary Immekus of Atlantic Elementary School: “Dashing into Learning.”

•    Deidre Arthur of AES: “Weather Station Informed.”

•    Peter Carraway, Hank Marshall and Hannah Whichard of Beaufort Middle School: “Smart Skillz.”

•    Megan Pinkerton of Broad Creek Middle School: “Telling our Story: Student Journalism and Broadcasting.”

•    Rebecca Haines of BCMS: “Take My Single-cellphie.”

•    William Sutton and Katherine Huffman of CHS: “FFA Robotic Tech.”

•    Kate Jayne of East Carteret High School: “An Exceptionally Sense-sational Space.”

•    Terri Riley and team of MCES: “Beyond Battle of the Books.”

•    Charles Elliott of MCMS: Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle 3.0.”

•    Emily Golightly of Newport Elementary School: “Finding Ourselves in Folktales, Fables and Fairy Tales.”

•    Amanda McCall of Newport Middle School: “Let Your Voices Be Heard!”

•    Dawn Simpson of Smyrna Elementary School: “One School, One Book.”

•    Beth Gillikin of SES: “Makerspace for Education.”

•    Annie Burbridge of Tiller School: “Tiller School Community Garden.”

•    Carrie Huber and Jill Plitko of Tiller School: “Building STEAM!”

•    Marie Foxworth of White Oak Elementary School: “The Podcast Playground.”

•    Marsha Sirkin of WOES: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good!”

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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