Alleghany Teacher’s ‘Bright Ideas’ Take Students on Problem-Solving Adventures - Carolina Country

Alleghany Teacher’s ‘Bright Ideas’ Take Students on Problem-Solving Adventures

Cecelia Hampton is a decorated Bright Ideas teacher from Sparta Elementary

By Lindsey Davis

Alleghany Teacher’s ‘Bright Ideas’ Take Students on Problem-Solving Adventures

Cecelia Hampton and her students with “Whiteboard World,” her 2019 Bright Ideas Grant winner.

At Sparta Elementary in Alleghany County, enthusiasm for learning lights up every corner of the school. Many of the sparks that kindle that enthusiasm emanate from sixth-grade math teacher Cecelia Hampton.

Hampton, who has been teaching for 31 years, believes in making learning interactive and relevant for her students. To put her creative ideas into action, she turned to her local electric cooperative, Blue Ridge Energy, and the Bright Ideas education grant program.

Bright Ideas grants are offered by electric cooperatives in North Carolina to enhance student success and bring creative learning to life. 

Bright Ideas Cecelia Hampton

Math teacher Cecelia Hampton (right), pictured with fellow math teacher Shannon Osborne

Hampton won her first Bright Ideas grant in 2004, for a project that paired older and younger students to create a recycling effort using red wiggler worms and lunchroom garbage in order to develop a better understanding of our impact on the environment. Since then, she has won close to $11,000 in Bright Ideas grants for more than a dozen projects covering several subjects, ranging from math and history to science and technology. She said the projects have helped students schoolwide delve deeper into learning and make broader connections.

“I like to think of Blue Ridge Energy and the Bright Ideas program as spreading ‘glitter’ far and wide across our school,” Hampton said. “It has stuck with us and turned up in the most amazing places!”

Her partnership with her local electric co-op has provided new tools for Hampton to innovate the ways her students learn, taking students on interactive experiences through history and setting them up for success as they advance through grade levels. Her most recent project in 2021, “Dive into Digital,” equips students with Wacom electronic drawing tablets and digital scanners to take any paper project and turn it into a digital masterpiece.

“From worms wiggling to Wacom tablets, I have had the privilege of joining in the joy and wonder of learning,” Hampton said. “The Bright Ideas grant program has provided me with the opportunity year after year to furnish my students with quality, hands-on, problem- solving adventures.”

“I like to think of Blue Ridge Energy and the Bright Ideas program as spreading ‘glitter’ far and wide across our school.”

The impact of these projects expands well beyond Hampton’s classroom. As teachers have moved classrooms, and because projects are utilized year after year, the benefits reach schoolwide and are growing every year.

Tasha Rountree, director of community relations for Blue Ridge Energy, says that supporting students and teachers is part of their mission as a community-owned cooperative to power a brighter future, now and for generations to come.

“Mrs. Hampton is the most decorated Bright Ideas teacher in our service area,” Rountree said. “We’re proud to continue Blue Ridge Energy’s 28-year tradition of supporting educators like Mrs. Hampton and investing in the future of our local students through the Bright Ideas program.”

Since 1994, electric cooperatives in North Carolina have supported 14,000 projects statewide, benefiting millions of students. Applications for Bright Ideas grants for the 2022–2023 school year are being accepted now at

Teachers: Spark Innovation in Your Classroom

North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are proud to support the next generation of great minds through our Bright Ideas educational grant program. K–12 teachers throughout our community with ideas for creative classroom projects can learn more on our website.

Learn More & Apply

About the Author

Lindsey Davis, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives

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