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Snapping Shoals awards $15,000 in grants to Newton County teacher
NCSS SNapping Shoals

COVINGTON, Ga. - Snapping Shoals EMC recently awarded $15,000 in grants to Newton County School System (NCSS) teachers through the co-op’s Bright Ideas program. The grants, which are allocated from unclaimed capital credit funds, are designed to help teachers who wish to extend educational opportunities and activities for students by developing student interests and abilities. 

Before congratulating all of the grant winners, SSEMC Vice President of External Affairs, Chris Wood, explained how these grant funds are made available through the company. 

“We are able to provide these grants through unclaimed capital credits,” Wood said. “Snapping Shoals EMC is a non-profit and these funds are accumulated through the dollars we have left over after our operating costs are paid for. We give these back to our members as capital credits every year. There are a lot of members who move off our system and although we try our best to reach out to everyone, sometimes we don’t have forwarding addresses. When that happens, we have unclaimed dollars that accumulate. We are fortunate enough to be able to hold onto these dollars now because prior to 2005 we were required to turn those funds over to the state and they could use them however they wanted to.” 

According to Wood, Snapping Shoals EMC uses the funds to give back to the local community in various ways, such as the Bright Ideas grants for local teachers. Snapping Shoals also supports economic development, education, and other local non-profit agencies. 

“There were a lot of wonderful ideas submitted this year and each of one of the grants selected for funding will benefit our students,” Dr. Kathy Garber, NCSS grant coordinator, said. 

This year’s grant recipients include: 

  • Terry Badertscher, Cousins Middle School: “Gardening for Life.” Students will repair and maintain flowerbeds already in place and plant new vegetables and herbs. They will can and freeze the food they grow for donations to families in need.
  • Jessi Braswell, Cousins Middle School: “Life in the Outdoors.” Funds will be used for a small greenhouse to promote healthy eating. A butterfly garden and plants for the pond and bog area will also be added to the existing garden.
  • Cecily Bullock, Newton College and Career Academy: “Learning through Livestock.” Funds will be used to purchase tools and equipment from animal and veterinary science industries, allowing the NCSS program to complete the industry certification process.
  • Bechuana Charles, Newton College and Career Academy: “Programming over the Years: Creating Games for the Future.” Students will experience the evolution of gaming by analyzing codes associated with games (Donkey Kong and Mario) from the 1989 Gameboy to the 2017 Nintendo Switch. They will critique each game, recreate codes associated with the games, and implement them into games they create.
  • Jennifer Cole, Fairview Elementary School: “I Make with My Makerspace.” Funds will be used to purchase kits, materials, and supplies to create a Makerspace, allowing 500 children to be creators and innovators through engaging in STEM/STEAM based activities.
  • Datha Curtis, Newton College and Career Academy: “Ride and Read: Literacy & Fitness Work Together for Smarter, Healthier Students.” Funds will allow for the implementation of Fit-Desk Bikes, stationary bikes with stabilized desks, offering a means to reduce childhood obesity and encourage reading and good study habits.
  • Angie Dean, Fairview Elementary School: “Ukuleles for Everyone.” Fourth and fifth grade students will learn to play the ukulele because ukuleles are smaller than guitars and easier to play with a high rate of success, allowing students to feel a higher level of confidence in musical endeavors.
  • Crystal Hyatt, Jesse Daniel, and Beth Gressel, South Salem Elementary School: “Blooming Success Garden and Outdoor STEM Lab.” Students will learn in a hands-on outdoor setting about erosion, soil layers, life cycles, conservation, and more, developing creative thinking and engineering skills using scientific tools.
  • Verneisa Jackson, Liberty Middle School: “Flexible Seating.” Special needs students will be provided with a variety of seating options, including yoga balls, pillows, stools, benches, and seat cushions to enhance student focus and learning.
  •  Nicole Judson, Indian Creek Middle School: “ROV Underwater Robotics.”  Students will use the engineering design process to design and construct underwater robots using MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) Underwater ROV kits.
  • Amy Larimer, Heard-Mixon Elementary School: “Pollinator Garden” With help from the Eastside High School FFA, students will create a pollinator garden to learn about plant growth, pollinators, and the vital impact of agriculture.
  • Vicki Meeler and Priscilla Waters, Indian Creek Middle School“Future City: Improving Infrastructure for the Modern Era.” Students will build a model future city by designing and constructing buildings wired electrically, insulated and supplied with running water. They will include transportation, power and water systems, communication, safety control, and green spaces.
  • Jennifer Novak, Newton High School: “The Seeds That Feed.” Students in science, agriculture, and consumer science classes will build and maintain an indoor hydroponic garden, grow crops to make nutritious snacks, and share with others.
  • Emily Plaisted, South Salem Elementary School: “A Greenhouse Ecosystem.” Students will use plants and insects to identify the parts of an ecosystem and will document their discoveries through video logs and discussion posts.
  • Marcus Pollard, Newton College and Career Academy: “Tools for Electrical Skills Development.” Funds will be used to purchase tools needed to teach electrical concepts and theory and the operating principles of various types of electrical circuits in a way closely aligned with the agricultural mechanics industry.
  • Elizabeth Rogers and Katie Sauls, Newton County Theme School: “Farm Fresh Learning at the Theme.” The Newton County Theme School chicken coop has brought bioscience to life, making observation, data collection, and the scientific method more meaningful for students. The flock of hens has grown so much that the coop needs to be expanded. Grant funds will provide additional space and support, allowing students to observe the chickens more easily.
  • Carrie Scott and Gladys Gordon, Fairview Elementary School: “The Red Apple Barn Field Trip.” ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) students will participate in a field trip to the Red Apple Barn in Ellijay. Language acquisition requires genuine, hands-on experiences. Students will visit a working apple orchard, study the life cycle of apples, collect and organize data, and present the data practicing English skills through each component.
  • Kimberlee Sorrell, Fairview Elementary School: “Economics and Explorers.” Students will engage in research and prepare a report about Native American people and/or explorers making positive contributions to Georgia history. They will design, produce, and justify production of an honorary coin with symbols that signify the contributions of Native Americans or explorers. 
“We applaud our staff who ventured forth to obtain these grants on behalf of their students,” said Dr. Craig Lockhart, deputy superintendent of Newton County School System. “Applying for grants is a time-consuming process that requires a great deal of time and sacrifice on the part of our educators.  Congratulations to all who have dared to apply and receive these awards.  In addition, we thank Snapping Shoals EMC for providing this opportunity.” 

Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation is a consumer-owned electric cooperative providing electric service to approximately 95,000 homes and businesses in an eight-county area. Most of the utility’s service area is in Newton, Rockdale and Henry counties. Portions of DeKalb, Butts, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties are also included. The company’s headquarters is on Brown Bridge Road in Newton County.