LCPS teachers collected the most and came away with the best Thursday night when Tri-County EMC awarded its Bright Ideas grants for 2017.
Of the 98 grants awarded, 39 went to teachers from Lenoir County’s eight eligible schools. Of the 12 grant ideas singled out for special praise, four were submitted by LCPS teachers – including the Bright Idea proposed by South Lenoir High School media coordinator Tanya Cahoon, selected as the Best of the Best from this year’s winners.
Teachers from public and private schools in Tri-County’s service area in Lenoir, Wayne and Duplin counties submitted nearly 300 applications for the grants this year, according to Tri-County general manager Michael Davis. Total value of the grants awarded was nearly $84,000, he said. Individual grants are capped at $1,000.
The performance of LCPS schools is particularly impressive since only eight of the district’s schools — Pink Hill Elementary, Woodington Middle, Moss Hill Elementary, South Lenoir High, North Lenoir High, E.B. Frink Middle, Banks Elementary and La Grange Elementary – and eligible to compete for the Tri-County grants. In contrast, 26 schools in Wayne County qualify by location and 17 in Duplin.
“Even with fewer eligible schools, we showed exceptionally well in this mini-grant competition,” LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams said. “This accomplishment is due to the hard work of our teachers and their principals. They did a great job.”
Cahoon’s “Best of the Best” grant idea envisions turning a section of the media center at South Lenoir into the Blue Devil Café, a student gathering place that resembles an Internet café complete with coffee bar and Smoothie machine. “High school media centers are not what they used to be. We moved into a technical world,” she told the audience at the awards ceremony in Dudley.
“I’m focusing on my EC students working with my library assistants to be able to learn job skills that will take them out into the workforce,” Cahoon said.
As author of the No. 1 grant proposal, Cahoon took home an additional $100 award, along with the cache of school supplies that went to all of the teachers honored as the top 12. They included Jennifer McLawhorn and Amy Taylor of Pink Hill Elementary School and Regan Crowley of Banks Elementary, each of whom received an additional $50 award.
Crowley’s grant will buy acrylic paint and canvas for her students to use in creating art featuring patriotic symbols and images produced in the U.S. during wartime. The artwork will be given to veterans living at the state veterans home in Kinston, she said.
Taylor, who used a previous grant to put a chicken coop and chickens at her school, will use her 2017 winnings to create a raised bed garden where her EC students can grow herbs that appeal to their chickens. The grant also included money for a rain barrel to keep the garden watered. “We plan to invite a chef in to talk about how you can use herbs in the kitchen,” she said.
McLawhorn’s grant was titled “Adopt a Grandparent Today” and will partner her students with pen pals at an assisted living facility near the school. In addition to being good practice in reading and writing for students, McLawhorn sees broader benefits for the young people. “They can learn so much from these older citizens,” she said.
This year’s grant winners from LCPS were:
- Pink Hill Elementary – Allison Whitfield, Traci Howard, Bena Miller, Chris Radford, Brenda Griffin, Betsy Mercer, Jennifer Grubbs, Walter Upthegrove, Amy Taylor, Jennifer McLawhorn and Melissa Boone.
- Woodington Middle – Jessica Jones, Steven Loftin and the team of Yvonne Hardy and Anna Rouse.
- Moss Hill Elementary – Catherine Lynch and Becky Gunn.
- South Lenoir High – Tanya Cahoon and Joseph Noble
- North Lenoir High – Kim Hipkiss, Teresa Eason, William Wright, Lee Holder, Ashley Holland, Angela Taylor and Erin Berg.
- B. Frink Middle – Pam Pate, Jonathan Smith, Jessica Kepler, Sandi West, Kristen Davenport and LaPorcha Gardner.
- Bank Elementary – Regan Crowley, Kimberly Smith, Jessica Barber and Caren McCarter.
- La Grange Elementary – Katherine Sowers, Jessica Stanley, Crystal Hodges and Lisa Davis.
Since beginning the Bright Ideas program in 1994, Tri-County has awarded 1,599 grants valued at $1.463 million.
N.C. Electric Cooperatives also sponsors a statewide Bright Ideas grant program and the nine LCPS schools outside Tri-County’s service area are eligible to compete for those awards. The statewide grant awards have not yet been announced.
Photos of grant winners are here.