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2017 Bright Ideas Teacher Recipients

Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) and the Southern Rivers Energy Trust, Inc. awarded a total of $14,929.14 to local teachers to fund innovative lesson plans for students.

Members of the Bright Ideas Brigade from Southern Rivers Energy surprised the winning teachers in their classrooms with flowers, big checks and gift bags. Grants of up to $1000 are awarded to teachers for their creative classroom projects. The program is designed to challenge teachers to develop innovative lesson plans that engage students, involve teamwork and re-energize their love of learning. Grants are not awarded for professional development.

Grants are awarded to certified school teachers instructing students in grades Pre-K through 12 (public or private) in Bibb, Coweta, Crawford, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties. Applications can be found on SRE’s website in May and must be completed before the beginning of September. Grant winners will be notified when the Bright Ideas Brigade makes its rounds each October. For more information or to apply online, visit


The 2017 grant recipients:


Crawford County                       

Mandy SuttonA School for Us, By Us, Crawford County High School, Roberta: $580.55. Grade: 10Students will work in groups with the overall goal of building a model of a new school. Each class will be a group that will be assigned one part of the building (gym, cafeteria, library and front office, or classrooms and hallways).


Lamar County 

Tammy Tinker- Differentiation Using Technology in the Music Classroom, Lamar County Primary School, Barnesville: $890.00. Grade K-2. Students will use "Music Ace" and "Groovy Music" software on new computers and through the use of piano keyboards, learn the basics of the piano. The students will also learn about various composers such as Mozart who wrote "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

Crystal Thompson- Breakout EDU, Lamar County Elementary School, Barnesville: $500.00.Grade: 4. With Breakout EDU students will work collaboratively to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles in order to open a locked box. The Breakout EDU boxes will help to foster teamwork, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve.

Cory Robinson- Elementary Ukulele Adventure, Lamar County Elementary School, Barnesville: $939.91. Grade: 4-5. Ukuleles are a new trend in music education that school music programs are starting to adopt. Students will be able to learn the elements of music through an instrument that can play individual melodic lines as well as accompany others in musical performance.

Arika Collier Collins- Putting the E in STEM, Lamar County Elementary School, Barnesville: $960.38. Grade: 3-5. Students will explore how electrical circuits work and compete in an engineering design challenge, students plan, create, and improve their own alarm circuit. Students will also use the engineering design process to design, test, and improve their tabletop maglev transportation systems. Students will send magnets sailing, help magnets hover, and explore magnetic fields

Kim Jeffcoat Making a Difference with Math Manipulatives, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $932.92.Grade:6-8. Through the use of the manipulative tool “GeoSolids,” students can demonstrate the relationships between shape, size, volume, and more. Students will work in small groups to access the manipulatives following the introduction of new concepts.

Laura Hearn and Drew WestburyKindergarten Letters Alive, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $795.00. Grade: K. Letters Alive is a supplemental reading learning kit that incorporates research-based best practices to teach early literacy skills. The lessons and activities are presented utilizing kinesthetic, visual, and auditory modalities, which apply to a broad range of learning styles and abilities.              


Monroe County                           

Misti SikesHelp our News Show “Go Pro”, KB Sutton Elementary School,  Forsyth: $974.80. Grade: 4-5. This project will give students access to GoPro video cameras, a Sony camcorder, and a video editing platform in order to enhance their video making skills and positively promote our school activities. Through this project the children will learn how to plan and grow their movie ideas, record clips that will capture the essence of the excitement happening within the school building, and collaborate with team members to present a professional-looking video for a school wide audience.

Annie DykeMore than a Meal, Monroe County Middle School, Forsyth: $993.60. Grade: 5-8 Sp. Ed. The goal of this grant project is for students to gain skills in meal preparation, encourage communication skills between student team members, and for students to experience the confidence of becoming more independent in life. 

Misti TonnSTEAM Experience Night- Nature Exploration, TG Scott Elementary School, Forsyth: $940.13. Grade 3-5. This project will provide our students and parents with engaging and meaningful experiments to work on together during STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Experience Night and provide small take home kits to extend their learning and explore with their families.

Elizabeth Selman3Doodler for the Win, Hubbard Elementary School, Forsyth: $899.83.Grade: K-5. Using 3D pens is an innovative way to get students creating and building in the art room. Students will be able to take personal art work and turn it into 3D works of art.


Pike County

Christy JohnsonBringing Spheros to the Computer Lab, Pike County Primary School, Zebulon: $979.93. Grade: K- 2. Spheros are the world's first app-controlled robotic balls. Play is a powerful tool and by fusing technology with robotics, it will be inspiring tomorrow's inventors and innovators. The SPRK lessons give students a fun crash course in programming while sharpening their skills in math, computer science and engineering.


Spalding County

Mandy ColwellIt’s a Small World After All, Crescent Road Elementary School, Griffin: $779.85. Grade: K-5. Through the purchase of LED touch screen microscopes, students will be able to work in groups to discover microorganisms in our local stream, cell functions, crystal structures, and even view butterfly wings!  The students can easily take pictures and record the movement of the specimens they are observing and use this data to create movies, clips, and other multimedia tools to share what they are learning in the classroom.


Upson County

Doris AbolarinClean Our Ocean! Upson Lee Primary School, Thomaston: $238.14. Grade: 1. Students will locate, identify, and describe the Pacific Ocean. Students will research The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and use trial and error to find/create the best filtration device.

Kenya CampbellLife Cycles, Upson Lee Primary School, Thomaston: $691.87. Grade: 2. This project includes the purchase and replacement of materials needed to hatch chicks and butterflies in my classroom. Second grade students investigate various life cycles as part of the science curriculum. 

Donna FoutsConnecting STEM Activities with Literature, Upson Lee Elementary School, Thomaston: $871.01

Bethany NorisTraveling the World from Our Desks, Upson Lee High School, Thomaston: $989.78. Grade: 9. Students will use virtual reality headsets to assist in a World History class and experience the locations they would never be able to visit during the school year and bring history alive.

Allie BankstonMake Microbiology MACRO with 3D Printing, Upson Lee High School, Thomaston: $971.44. Grade: 9. Students will use 3D printing technology to research, design and create models of microbiological units to better understand the relationships between cells and genetics.


View pictures here.


About Operation Round Up® and the SRE Trust, Inc.

Operation Round Up® began at SRE in November, 2005 and the first grants were awarded in January, 2006. This voluntary program allows SRE to round up participating members’ electric bills to the next dollar and donate the extra change to the Southern Rivers Energy Trust, Inc. to be awarded as charitable community grants.

A board of eleven volunteer members across SRE’s service area review applications and distribute funds according to the Trust bylaws and funding guidelines on a bi-monthly basis. To date the Trust has awarded more than $1.3 million dollars to fund charitable groups, education, health & safety and the arts across the nine counties served by SRE.


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