School District Five teachers receive “Bright Ideas” grants

November 7, 2022

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 received more than $4,000 in grants.

School District Five grant recipients include: Kristin Bowman (Irmo Elementary), Anna Gunn (Oak Pointe Elementary), Amanda Hill (Oak Pointe Elementary), Scott Johnson, Candice Joannides, Lauren Panarello (Piney Woods Elementary), and Heather Reitenga (Ballentine Elementary). The grants will support a variety of projects that support students.

Teachers receiving this year’s grants were surprised by the “Bright Ideas Grant Patrol,” who traveled to their schools to bring their awards. Piney Woods Elementary School Literacy Coach Scott Johnson says the $1,000 grant he and the Response to Intervention (RtI) Team received will allow the school to buy books for book clubs. RtI at Piney Woods is working on reading volume with struggling readers.

“Research shows that children who struggle with reading avoid reading because they feel unsuccessful. The more they avoid reading, the less they grow as readers and RtI at Piney Wood Elementary wants to break that cycle,” Johnson said. “The grant money will be used to purchase high-quality, authentic texts for our leveled library. “Each week our “Book Club” students choose 5-10 books they can read independently, including books they can read but are a bit more challenging. Having books our RtI students can read independently and instructionally is important for supporting independent reading in the core classroom and reading at home.”

Ballentine Elementary School received a grant that will allow them to purchase a hydroponics tower. Digital Integration Specialist Heather Reitenga said she was thrilled to receive the $1,000 grant because of the impact it will have on students.

“This grant from MCEC is going to allow our students with medical challenges access to a gardening experience and science integrated learning all year round,” Reitenga said.

This year’s awards mark the 18th annual Bright Ideas program recognition. Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative gave more than $18,000 in grants to teachers in several districts this year.

“We are proud to offer funding for the unique projects these teachers implement both in and outside the traditional classroom setting,” said Lacy Ridgell, Mid-Carolina public relations coordinator. “From gardening to technology and everything in between, these projects are so critical to our children’s development.  We know that now more than ever, students and teachers alike need this support and we appreciate all their hard work and dedication.”