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Coastal Electric members donate to local schools
RHMS Coastal Electric
One of the check presentations at Richmond Hill MIddle School. Photo provided.

From funds to meet students’ basic needs during times of financial crisis to grants that will take education to the next level, 24 Coastal Georgia schools got a shot in the arm Oct. 6-8 to the tune of $53,694.19.

 The Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation awarded over $29,000 in Bright Ideas grants to teachers to fund their innovative classroom and virtual learning project ideas. Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh county teachers applied for the grants in August. Since the Bright Ideas program’s inception in 2002, around $350,000 has been awarded to give local teachers the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action.

 In addition, the Foundation presented $1,000 checks to 24 principals in Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties to be donated to their “principal’s funds,” with the intention the monies would be used to meet students’ and teachers’ needs throughout the school year to which only school staff may be privy.  

 Funding for Bright Ideas grants and Principals Funds comes from Coastal Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar through Operation Round Up. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

 “If there was ever a year they could use a little extra funding, this might be the year,” said Coastal Electric Cooperative CEO Chris Fettes, who presented donations on behalf of the Foundation. Fettes received elbow bumps and air hugs from school principals – some whose students are meeting in person and some whose are learning virtually. “These children are our future and most valuable resource. We are here to support the dedicated people who work hard every day to provide a quality education and enhance our students’ quality of life.”

 Below is a summary of project ideas from Bryan County’s 2020 grant winners:

* Carver Elementary’s Donnie Jones won a $1,543.65 grant for his project to incorporate green screen video to make distance learning more fun and interactive for his fifth-graders.

* Sarah Taylor’s $1,970.38 grant will help her develop the first phase of an outdoor learning area for Frances Meeks Elementary School, including a pollinator garden, bird feeding stations, seating and a water trough system.

 *At Richmond Hill High School, Mary Jo Fina and Theaonica Roberts’s $1,640 project, “Sew Much to Research,” will engage students in scientific inquiry to design and test the effectiveness of masks used to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And Joshua Baluh’s $704.88 project, “Tiny Homes Built by Big Ideas,” will allow students to create a 3D model of a tiny house, incorporating engineering, budgeting, collaboration and energy efficiency.

* Mary Boland’s $1,942.92 project, “3D Printing and Beyond,” will allow Richmond Hill Middle School (RHMS) students to actively learn about math concepts while integrating them with space exploration. Students will not only design, scale and print a model of a space probe, but they will also write speeches to pitch their ideas to peers.

* Robert Hodgdon’s RHMS students will gain a more complete understanding of the health of local wetlands by gathering data in the lower pelagic and benthic zones of estuaries and ponds adjacent to school campuses with his $1,687 grant.

* Audra Esquvel’s $1,972.79 grant will purchase an augmented reality sandbox for RHMS, giving students a hands-on and three-dimensional approach to topography maps. Students will create unique topographical maps by shaping real sand, which then displays color-coded elevation, contour lines and water features.

* “Magazines, Math and Motivation,” a $764.10 project geared toward students with disabilities and low socioeconomic status, will allow students to use mathematics in real-world situations, work on grade-level standards in hands-on applications, and motivate students who have historically struggled with math. 

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