The Bright Ideas program offers grants for up to $2,500 to teachers in K–12 public schools.
This year, South River EMC awarded 39 grants for a total of $70,121 among four counties. While receiving a grant can be exciting for teachers during a normal year, this year it was even more special.
With schools closing before the conclusion of the 2019–2020 school year, and reopening either partially or completely virtual for 2020–2021, educators tried to find ways to continue engaging students.
Bryan Brown is just such a teacher at STAR Academy, in Harnett County and was a recipient for his grant, “Chemistry In Action.” “I have been teaching over 10 years, beginning in Jamaica at Buff Bay High,” said Brown. “I have been at STAR since August 2019.”
Brown was only seven months into the year when schools closed, and a transition was made to online instruction, which for many subjects can be difficult.“Teaching is never without its challenges even in the best of situations,” he said. “However, with virtual teaching, the challenges at times intensify especially when using new technologies for the first time, whether on the student's or teacher’s side. Also, it is observed that students are less attentive and engaged during virtual lessons as opposed to physical lessons.”
The STAR Academy has a smaller student body, as it is the alternative school in the county, and is in constant flux.
But, what it offers those students who attend is a more specialized instruction. After all, research shows that when students get involved, they learn and retain significantly more.
"I am cognizant of the fact that the experiments will have a greater impact on each student," said Brown.
Brown faces challenges from COVID-19 with instruction occurring remotely.
I am also ecstatic for the students and myself who are going to be directly impacted. I can state that this grant will allow teaching in the science department to be more conducive to learning.
"The coronavirus has significantly affected teaching and learning in a plethora of ways. For one, most students went online, taking away their physical practical involvement especially in laboratory exercises," said Brown. "Also, there are times when the system became overloaded, which affects connectivity. Students are more motivated to learn in the physical classroom opposed to online learning."
That's not the only problem though, STAR Academy does not have a laboratory for its science classes. With some creative thinking though, the room has safe storage for laboratory apparatuses, equipment and solutions, as well as a table to facilitate laboratory procedure.
Bryan has been lucky, with participation overall being above average; however, he feels the science kits will ignite greater participation of students, helping them to excel.
This is the first Bright Ideas grant that STAR Academy has received.
When told this, Bryan replied, "I am really thrilled for STAR, for making history in being a well-deserved recipient of a Bright Idea’s grant in 2020-2021. I am also ecstatic for the students and myself who are going to be directly impacted. I can state that this grant will allow teaching in the science department to be more conducive to learning."
Support for NC Educators
South River EMC is proud of its Bright Ideas grants program. We're all about supporting North Carolina classrooms.