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2020 Bright Ideas Grant Winners Announced

Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) and the Southern Rivers Energy Trust, Inc. recently awarded a total of $14,956 to 18 local teachers to fund innovative lesson plans for students.

Members of the Bright Ideas Brigade from Southern Rivers Energy surprised the winning teachers with flowers, big checks and gift bags. Grants of up to $1,000 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. With all the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, this round of applicants was especially creative!

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 2020 grant recipients:                               

Lamar County 

Kim Watson: Third Grade is a Gem, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $797.35. Students will participate in an on-campus field trip where they will be able to mine for gems. They will also use 15 test kits to further their knowledge of geology.
Kristin Roney: I Didi the Iditarod, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $715.72. Students will enhance their reading, writing and math skills while they track Iditarod mushers and sled teams using GPS and live video streaming. A former Iditarod musher and sled dog will also participate in a personal Q&A session with students.
Maddie Bartlett: Rock Springs Christian Academy, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $270.20. Students will have musical curriculum added into their daily classroom routine since COVID-19 has prevented music classes from meeting.
Laura Hearn and Drew Westbury: Integrating Art Education in the Kindergarten Classroom, Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner: $1000.00. Partnering with a local art studio, students will have access to art education, which is not available this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.                              

Monroe County                           

Sarah Williams: Putting Math in Their Hands, Mary Persons High School, Forsyth: $999.80. Students would have 4 extra slates (digital writing tablets) to project work, allowing for less classroom movement and more social distancing.
Laurie Thomas: Bring Our Jobs To Us, Mary Persons High School, Forsyth: $1000.00. Students will be able to use gift cards to complete their Community Based instruction by making purchases and learning life skills from the classroom since COVID-19 prevents them from being out in the community.
Danyel Vance: Checking Out From Home, Monroe County Middle School, Forsyth: $675.00. Students who are distance learning and don't have access to a physical library would be able to "check out" e-books and audio books from an e-library.             

Pike County

Kimberly Johnson: New Vistas Notebooking, Pike County Middle School, Zebulon: $665.42. Students will combine creative writing and art to "notebook" a collection of poetry, drawings and other interests. They will share with their peers and showcase them each quarter.
Kim Carden: Mixing It Up! Pike County Elementary School, Zebulon: $988.84. Students will have the experience of planning and testing their own experiments to better understand chemical changes in matter.  

Spalding County

Brianne Grubbs: Learning Through Games, Skipstone Academy, Griffin: $500.00. Grade: Students will use board and card games to learn and practice math concepts.
Nicholas Clark: CURTAINS UP, Spalding High School, Griffin: $949.97. Grade: A working curtain on stage will be added to the existing preforming arts space.
LaTesa Parker: P.E. IS Powerful Education, Atkinson Elementary, Griffin: $990.00. A walking/fitness trail would be built on school grounds.
Richard Wright: Yes, We Can, Moreland Road Elementary School, Griffin: $1000.00. Students will participate in a theater production from start to finish, in only one week. The Missoula Children's Theater will put on a teamwork and confidence-building workshop to challenge students to accept and complete a challenge.
Heather Hilley: The Science of Paint Pouring, Crescent Road Elementary School, Griffin: $1000.00. Students will explore the art of paint pouring, a unique media that combines chemistry and art. They will plan the pour, identify tools and techniques needed and hypothesize pour results.                              

Upson County

Jana Prince: From Pupa to Pollinator, Upson Lee Primary School, Thomaston: $480.87. Students will observe the life-cycle of a butterfly. They will predict, observe, discuss and document their findings and present them to the class.
Donna Fouts: “Bee” a Part of the Solution, Upson Lee Elementary School, Thomaston: $464.40. Students will learn about bees and all the ways they impact our ecosystem. They will develop plans to attract bees to the school garden.
Ashanti Brawner: Lights Out Literacy! Upson Lee Elementary School, Thomaston: $965.45. Students will be given flashlights, interactive books, reading manipulatives and flexible seating to enhance the experience of reading.
Kayla Thompson: What Cord? Going Wireless, Upson Lee Middle School, Thomaston: $993.26. Students will have access to wireless headphones and mouses to participate in interactive reading programs. 


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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