Bladen teachers earn Bright Ideas grants

By: Staff report

BURGAW – Two Bladen County teachers won $2,955 in Bright Ideas grants from Four County EMC at the 13th annual Bright Ideas Awards Luncheon.

The Bladen County grant winners were some of 145 educators from 22 counties at the Nov. 5 luncheon, which was held at the Dail Club at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Six local Touchstone Energy cooperatives hosted the event and awarded more than $185,000 in Bright Ideas grant funding for creative classroom projects.

Shanna Harrelson along with team member Amy Schumacher, teachers at West Bladen High, were awarded $1,315 for a grant titled “Integration of Honors Science and EC Adaptive Students, Cooperative Learning at its Best and Most Tactile.” Also, Teresa Wiles from Clarkton School of Discovery was awarded $1,639.64 for a grant titled “North Carolina Legends: Treasures in Our Own Backyard!”

“Each of these grant winners goes above and beyond for their students, and we’re excited to play a part in bringing these innovative learning projects to life,” said Gay Johnson, director of Corporate Communications of Four County EMC. “Our cooperative is committed to supporting the communities we serve, and Bright Ideas grants are a wonderful and impactful way to do that.”

In total, Four County EMC awarded $19,860 to 22 teachers in Bladen, Duplin, Pender and Sampson counties this year. Since the Bright Ideas program began 21 years ago, Four County EMC has contributed more than $377,660 to local teachers.

Kim Bearden, the co-founder, executive director and language arts teacher at the highly-acclaimed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, delivered the keynote address. Drawing on 27 years of experience in the classroom, Bearden motivated, inspired and reminded grant-winners and administrators of the powerful impact they have on students. Audience members also received a copy of Bearden’s best-selling book, “Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me.”

The Raleigh awards luncheon is part of a month-long celebration by all of North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives to recognize grant-winning teachers for innovation in education. In November, North Carolina’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives are awarding approximately $600,000 to educators statewide to fund close to 500 projects. Since the Bright Ideas program began 1994, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have presented more than $9.6 million to Tar Heel educators. Close to 9,200 projects in subjects ranging from mathematics to the arts have been funded by the Bright Ideas grant program, benefiting more than 1.8 million students throughout the state.

Bright Ideas education grants are sponsored by Four County EMC locally, and North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives statewide, to help further traditional academic learning through innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding. Grant applications are accepted annually from April through September. North Carolina K-12 teachers may learn more at

Staff report