Some High Country teachers will be the recipients of Blue Ridge Energy's Bright Ideas Grants.

For its 26th year of grant making, Blue Ridge Energy is awarding $25,139 to 28 classrooms in its service area of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes and Avery counties.

Watauga/Avery counties grant winning teachers are:

Hope Mough, Bethel Elementary, for “Stretch for Success.” This $456 grant will be used to purchase resistance bands for students in grades 5-8 to increase flexibility through stretching.

Michelle Griffin, Bethel Elementary, for “Computer Lab Conversion.” The grant for $520 will purchase three Flexispot Cycle Desk Bikes for students to use while using computers in computer skills class to offset being sedentary while connected to technology.

Olivia Boudwin, Bethel Elementary, for “Natural Preschool.” This $600 grant will enable students to engage in music, art, fine and gross motor activities, reading, writing, and dramatic play all while being outside.

Chelsie Eldreth, Bethel Elementary, for “Learning with Lego!” The grant for $668 will purchase nine Lego kits of different cities and structures around the world. Students in the 6th grade will learn about architecture, construction, and culture with a hands-on perspective.

McKenna Wild, Green Valley Elementary, for “Building Knowledge with STEM.” This $500 grant will purchase hands-on materials to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning that spur creativity and innovation.

Dr. Laurie Gill, Blowing Rock Elementary, for “Improving Spelling & Writing Online with CoWriter App.” This $750 grant will be used to purchase a two-year subscription to the writing and spelling app “CoWriter”, a program that has been shown to improve students’ spelling ability.

Joelle Poore, Freedom Trail Elementary, for “Coding Detectives.” This $1,500 grant will combine the curriculum of reading and technology when students read challenging mystery novels and visually retell the story to their classmates by drawing a story map that incorporates beginning coding commands.


Ashe/Wilkes counties grant winning teachers are:


Alexandra Miller, Westwood Elementary, for “Growing Minds Growing Plants.” This $250 grant will improve garden beds started in 2019 to construct raised garden beds and add support for covered hoops. The project helps students work together to solve problems and learn long-term planning.

Sara Lambert, Westwood Elementary, for “Pass the Mic!” The grant for $816 will purchase a Qball, a padded microphone that looks like a ball and can be treated as such. Using the Qball will encourage students to interact in a game-like format while social distancing. Qball will strengthen the social/emotional health of students as it shows that every voice matters.

Kevin Miller, Westwood Elementary, for “I’ll Take P.E. to Go Please.” This $750 grant will enable the students enrolled in remote learning an opportunity to have equipment and online guidance.

Mazie Sullivan, Westwood Elementary, for “Rockin Robots.” The grant for $1,220 will purchase six Dash robots with xylophone attachments. Music class will never look or sound the same after students code and compose with Dash robots!

Taylor Hinrichs, Westwood Elementary, for “Stop Being So-So and Start Using Osmo.” This $1,267 grant will purchase a technology-based project that incorporates mathematics and phonics skills. Students will use an iPad with the Osmo device for applications that teach real-life problem solving skills and curriculum-based goals.

Katherine Greene, Ashe County High School, for “Art in the Home: Equality with Art Supplies.” This $1,499 grant will be used to provide quality art supplies to each student enrolled in one of the visual arts courses offered with Ashe online learning.

Makayla Spencer, Westwood Elementary, for “Quilting the Curriculum.” This $191 grant will fund a collaborative project for 2nd and 4th grade students that incorporates art into social studies and math curriculum with creation of a Freedom Barn quilt mural.

Ruth Turnmire, Mountain View Elementary, for “Ready-Set-R.E.A.D. (Reading, Engaging, Achieving, Discovering).” This $1,496 grant will provide families of at-risk readers and English learners with interactive literacy kits that spark creativity and actively connect children with texts.

Janet St. John, Wilkesboro Elementary, for “Consent.” This $258 grant will purchase a selection of books about sensitive issues such as child abuse and neglect to help students learn how to better identify consent issues and to also help school counselors and teachers meet the need of students.


Caldwell County grant winning teachers are:

Megan Lovins of Hudson Elementary, for “Science “COVID STYLE.” This $1,386 grant will give students hands-on experiences and will focused on animal adaptations, rocks and minerals. Students will get a look at what a biologist and archaeologist do in their careers.

Jeanie Robinson of Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy, for “Voices of the Holocaust.” The grant for $1,144 allows students to learn how the Resistance operated during World War II by recreating and operating an underground newspaper and radio station similar to those used during that time.

Courtney Swanson of Collettsville Elementary, for “Step It Up.” This $929 grant will help students benefit from a social and emotional curriculum that teaches self-management of emotions, relationship building and conflict resolution.

Rylie Lytle Plaster of Horizons Elementary, for “Grow Your Mindset.” The grant for $1,100 will be used for construction of a greenhouse that will introduce students to how gardening can help them learn to take care of something other than themselves.

David Brotherton of Hudson Middle, for “Is That Real?” This $1,300 grant will purchase virtual reality headsets to increase interest in healthcare careers by giving students a realistic view of healthcare opportunities.


Blue Ridge Energy is part of several North Carolina electric cooperatives providing Bright Ideas grants. Together, they have provided more than $12.9 million for classroom projects impacting over 2.5 million students in North Carolina.