Grants give teachers 'bright ideas' to help foster creative lessons during virtual learning

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Theresa Torian is teaching virtually for Little River Elementary in Durham during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She applied for and received a Bright Ideas education grant from North Carolina Electric Cooperatives, which awards more than 600 grants for projects every year.

With the grant money, Torian bought access to an online science curriculum for students at the school.

"A lot of times when we want to start a lesson out or we want to expose them to something that normally we would crowd around a table at school and do some sort of experiment like chemical changes, physical changes, they have great videos that demonstrate that," Torian said. "They can get up close and see how things work. It answers a lot of the whys in science."

Grants range up to $3,000 and vary by the cooperative. Central Electric, Piedmont Electric, South River EMC and Wake Electric have awarded more than $185,000 in grants to teachers to help Triangle students. In all, NC Electric Cooperatives has awarded nearly $13 million in grants, impacting 2.5 million students.

The application is available every April through September. Educators who got grants are putting them to use during virtual learning.

"This program was really designed to support creative classroom learning projects that wouldn't otherwise be funded," said Lisa Crawley with North Carolina Electric Cooperatives. "It's been a really natural fit for us to move and support teachers in a virtual environment during this time when they need extra resources to help reach and engage students."

Wayne Wilson also got the grant. The music teacher at Pathways Elementary in Hillsborough bought access to an online music curriculum, where students can play virtual instruments, get music lessons and compose their own music.

"It's really been amazingly helpful on the planning side for me to not have to create resources on my own, but have those available that are high quality and really engaging for the kids and they're learning," Wilson said.
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