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School District Five teachers receive “Bright Ideas” grants

Irmo, SC - Several Lexington-Richland School District Five classrooms will soon benefit from grants provided by the Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative (MCEC). The cooperative’s annual Bright Ideas program grants provide funding to teachers who have demonstrated innovative ideas for classroom projects.

School District Five grant recipients include: Katherine Ketaner and Craig Andrysczyk (Oak Pointe Elementary), Terri Stackleather and Angela Durham (Oak Pointe Elementary), Kary Dufault (CrossRoads Intermediate), Lori Wenzinger (Irmo Middle), Callison English (H. E. Corley Elementary), Megan Stevens (H. E. Corley Elementary), Jill Chapman (Academy For Success), Aymer Rojas and Alyssa Mullaney (Seven Oaks Elementary), and Lori Latham (Chapin High). The grants will support a variety of projects like a STEAM Makerspace for third graders, biotechnology in the classroom, bringing the museum to school, materials to build social emotional skills and more.

Teachers receiving this year’s grants were surprised recently by the “Bright Ideas Grant Patrol,” which presented recipients with checks and other prizes to acknowledge their awards. Chapin High teacher Lori Latham says the grant will provide biology students hands-on, real-world experience with updated equipment to run and perform various analyses when teaching the Molecular Genetics Unit.

“My students learn about polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) in class, but have not actually performed PCRs because the equipment has always been very expensive,” Latham said after being surprised with the grant on Oct. 9. “New and up-coming biotech companies have developed a more cost-effective PCR machine that enable teachers to actually have this technology at their fingertips! I am so excited for our biology students to have this opportunity to work with our new Mini-One Systems!”

On the elementary level, one grant will benefit students by creating a “makerspace” to support student curiosity, innovation, and collaboration using advanced technology.

“I am incredibly excited to be receiving this grant,” said H. E. Corley Elementary teacher Callison English. “The makerspace will empower our students to demonstrate their learning and elevate their abilities using new and engaging technologies in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).”

This year’s awards mark the 15th annual Bright Ideas program recognition. Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative gave approximately $16,000 in grants to teachers in several districts this year.

MCEC's CEO Bob Paulling said, “The idea behind Bright Ideas is to help empower good teachers, to provide support outside of normal public school funding for great projects that deserve to be used in the classroom, yet need that extra assistance."

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