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Local teachers awarded $14,993 from Southern Rivers Energy

Local teachers awarded $14,993 from Southern Rivers Energy

Bright Ideas: Energizing Innovative Lessons


BARNESVILLE—Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) and the Southern Rivers Energy Trust, Inc. awarded a total of $14,993 to local teachers to fund innovative lesson plans for students.

From a pool of 38 applicants, 18 teachers were surprised in their classrooms with gifts and checks ranging from $480 to nearly $1,000 by members of the Bright Ideas Brigade. This year, 14 different schools in Crawford, Lamar, Monroe, Pike, Spalding and Upson received grants.

Southern Rivers Energy’s annual Bright Ideas program gives educators the opportunity to apply for special project funds, not often available in tightly budgeted school systems. Since the program’s inception in 2007, nearly $178,000 has been awarded to local teachers, giving them the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action.

Earlier in the year, certified teachers in grades Pre-K through 12 (public or private) in Bibb, Coweta, Crawford, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties were asked to submit proposals for classroom projects. Without knowing the names of schools or the educators involved, four retired teachers from Lamar and Pike counties rated requests according to creativity, uniqueness of experience, teamwork, goals and learning objectives, potential to benefit future students, and student involvement.

Bright Ideas is funded through SRE’s Operation Round Up® program where members volunteer to round up their monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar. The extra change collected from each participating member goes to the Southern Rivers Energy Trust, Inc. and is distributed by a volunteer board in the form of community and individual grants as well as Bright Ideas grants and scholarships for local students.

Kathryn Claxton, Southern Rivers Energy’s Communications Specialist stated, “Our members have a unique opportunity to enrich the lives of fellow citizens and help their communities thrive just by paying an even amount on their power bill each month. Bright Ideas is just one of the ways we are able to give back to our community through Operation Round Up®. Thank you to our participating members for helping us make a difference in our communities.”

Teachers are encouraged to begin making plans now for 2019 project submissions. Applications will be available online at in April and must be completed before the beginning of September. The Bright Ideas Brigade will notify grant winners in October.

The 2018 Bright Ideas Grant winners are listed below. To view photos of our winners, visit us on Facebook.


Crawford County

Carrie Green, Crawford County Eagles Nest

Munching into Math, $602.02

Munching into Math will allow students to explore math through their senses using edible manipulatives. They will see how to construct math problems through food and games, hear stories about math, smell the foods, touch and explore the foods and, of course, taste the food. The students will create a “Munching Math” journal and record pictures and data of their experiences. The class will create many graphs and discuss the results. The students will also use games to reinforce and enrich math skills.


Lamar County

Kelly Adamson, Lamar County Elementary School

Cardio Drumming, $977.64

Cardio drumming is a program that combines the mental health benefits of drumming with the overall health benefits of physical fitness for a full body workout. It provides a great way for special needs and primary students to learn musical concepts and work on hand-eye coordination and motor skills. 


Madeline Bartlett, Rock Springs Christian Academy

Pre-K Hay Day, $884.00

The project will include an off campus field trip to a local farm, a hands on petting zoo event with our school community, a classroom greenhouse, and lesson plans involving real life experiences related to farming, animals, and health. Students will focus on planting, seasons, animals, good and bad food choices and weather during this unit.


Ingrid Dingler, Rock Springs Christian Academy

Luminous Learning, $802.00

This project brings the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s Mobile Astronomy unit to the school to help support their space unit. Students will enjoy a family night at the school learning about stars and space.


Christina Haddock, Lamar County Elementary School

Wild about Wildlife, $690.00

The entire 3rd grade class is provided the opportunity to experience an interactive, one-of-a-kind wildlife presentation presented by the Center for Wildlife Education, Georgia Southern University. It is a one-hour presentation of wildlife animals including birds of prey, reptiles, and fun creepy crawlers.


Allison Merritt, Lamar County Primary School

More than Just Words: Expanding Students’ Language through Visual Imagery, $932.75

This grant purchases Imagine That! Stories and Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) Comprehension Workbooks to improve students’ concept imagery--the ability to create an imaged gestalt from language--as a basis for comprehension and higher order thinking. This project provides a research-based framework with which to understand and expand their language. Students with autism and language delays struggle with comprehension and this program will help them visualize what they have read, answer higher-order thinking questions, and improve story retell.


Susan Pace, Rock Springs Christian Academy

Robotics, $837.11

Students will participate in the First Lego League Robotics Program where they will research a real world engineering challenge, develop a solution and design a robot to complete assigned tasks related to the challenge. This program is the epic STEM project for middle grades students. This year’s challenge is "Into Orbit" where students will "identify a physical or social problem faced by humans during long duration space exploration within our Sun's solar system. Students will choose a problem, research a solution, use technology to develop, design and build a robot to perform assigned tasks. Then, they will create a presentation to present findings.


Monroe County

Christina Chapman, Monroe County Middle School

STEAM Up! $951.70

STEAM Up Family Night will help educate students, parents, and community members about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) in today's world and how these disciplines work together in the real world. ELA, math, science, art and technology teachers from each grade level (6th-8th) will collaborate to plan engaging and relevant activities to help students and parents experience STEAM through hands-on experiences.


Brittany Pate, Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School

Summer SURGE Camp, $856

SURGE Camp will provide a fun learning opportunity during the summer to allow additional mathematical instruction to elementary students to fill existing learning gaps and increase students’ foundational math skills while incorporating literacy and science.


Sallie Speir, KB Sutton Elementary School

Summer SURGE Camp, $856

SURGE Camp will provide a fun learning opportunity during the summer to allow additional mathematical instruction to elementary students to fill existing learning gaps and increase students’ foundational math skills while incorporating literacy and science.


Tamarkis Taylor, TG Scott Elementary School

Summer SURGE Camp, $856

SURGE Camp will provide a fun learning opportunity during the summer to allow additional mathematical instruction to elementary students to fill existing learning gaps and increase students’ foundational math skills while incorporating literacy and science.


Pike County

Gena Brown, Pike County High School

Putting the Spotlight on Writing, $989.55

Being able to write well is a cornerstone mark of an educated person. However, so much of the writing done for school neglects the creative aspects of writing well in an effort to focus on the technical foundations. This project creates a school-wide literary magazine to spotlight all types of writing and visual communication.


Leah Jordan, Pike County High School

STEAMy Learning in the Media Center, $690.00

This project provides an opportunity for students to solve genuine problems in our community, experiment, and create based on weekly projects. The media center will no longer be a silent space where students are afraid to talk too loudly; instead, the media center will be transformed into a space where community is promoted, teamwork is regular, and learning is accelerated. Students will have a new project each week where they will be exposed to real-time community issues, create a prototype or a creative invention, and make connections to their classroom curriculum. Teachers can supplement classroom learning by allowing students to work on these STEAM maker space creations/solutions if they finish work early, or use these projects to create class competitions.


Sherri Pitts, Pike County Primary School

Makerspace, $873.79

Makerspace will create a student work area where students can work independently or collaboratively to design and create projects. Materials for student-use will include recycled materials and real-life materials that could be used by an architect, carpenter, scientist, artist, or other professional. Some activities may be teacher-led or may establish background knowledge through teacher-guided exploration using STEM kits. The goal is to grow students into creative learners and problem solvers.


Spalding County

Cara Cook, Enrichment Center-Program Challenge

League of Learning, $839.35

Third grade students will participate in a real-world problem-solving challenge using robots. Students will select missions, follow guidelines, and research a real-world problem experienced in space. The focus is to build teamwork and collaboration. Teams will share their experiences with other teams and present their findings with parents and various stakeholders.  These presentations will build communication skills through various media and face-to-face presentations.


Cody Helms, Spalding High School

Physical Science for the Modern Classroom, $975.00

This project modernizes the science classroom while exposing students to technology that collects real-time data in the physical science classroom. Future science and mathematical jobs require the high-school graduates to understand how to collect, analyze, and interpret data collected. Students will gain a better understanding of how to utilize technology in this post-modern era.


Upson County

Kenya Campbell, Upson-Lee Primary School

Blinding Me With Science! $903.76

This project provides second graders STEM based experiments that support three of their science units: stars/sun/moon, push/pull, and life cycles. These projects give students a chance to engage in hands-on, experiential learning that combine different elements of STEM, while encouraging students to ask thoughtful questions, discover answers, apply what they learn, and problem-solve creatively.


Ashley Reed, Upson-Lee Pre-K

Let There be Light, $481.02

This project funds the purchase of two portable light boxes and manipulatives to support hands-on concepts in science, math, art, language, and more. Students will have an engaging and interactive experience while gaining a knowledge of counting, sorting, spatial skills development, engineering, letter formation, and patterns.

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