EnergyUnited hosted a virtual meeting on Friday to honor 22 of its 40 Bright Ideas grant recipients. The cooperative will host two more meetings to celebrate the remaining recipients.


EnergyUnited hosted one of three virtual events on Friday to celebrate 2020 Bright Ideas that will bring innovation and technology into K-12 classrooms in nine counties.

During the Zoom meeting, EnergyUnited CEO Wayne Wilkins addressed 22 of the teachers who were awarded Bright Ideas education grants.

“This is a very different venue than we had last year in the 2019 group. This is a new environment for us all,” Wilkins said. “Today we are celebrating each of you chosen to receive the grants for the many outstanding projects. Each year gets more and more exciting.”

EnergyUnited will award $43,000 Bright Ideas grants to 40 teachers in nine different counties.

The winners recognized Friday included:

• Dana Gillis, The Brawley School
• Tai McMiller, American Renaissance Elementary School
• Rick Marcy, Discovery Program at the springs
• Alan Lorne Cook, Statesville High School
• Phillip Haworth, Charles England Elementary
• Samantha Crews, Douglass Elementary
• Linda Dearman, Cool Springs Elementary
• Tracy Skeens, Crossroads Arts and Science Early College
• Katie Bogle, A L Brown High School
• Alesha Spring Roseman, Overton Elementary
• Bleasha A Carroll, Fair Grove Elementary
• Desirae Balsamo, Hanes Middle
• Tammy Shelton, Silver Valley Elementary
• Joseph Higdon, Mooresville High
• Sara Webb, Lake Norman Elementary
• Tori Cardea, West Rowan High
• Kelly Crews, Landis Elementary
• Jennifer DiFiore, North Iredell Middle
• Danny Lough, Central Davie Academy
• Gina McGee, Konnoak Elementary
• April Hendley, Southwood Elementary
• Kristi Miller, West Rowan High

Many school districts have a mix of in-person and virtual learning days, which means many students must learn at home. Some of the grants will help improve the virtual learning experience for students.

Improvements ranging from virtual reality to Dr. Seuss books brought out a sense of pride in winning teachers. Grants ranging from $600 to $2,000 will help facilitate half or most of these classroom improvements.

During the virtual meeting, the teachers explained their Bright Idea and how the funds will be used in the classroom.

High school theatre arts teacher Joseph “Ron” Higdon said his grant will be used on stage to purchase hand tools to stock Mooresville High’s theatre scene shop.

The school’s new performing arts center opened in 2017, but the new shop room didn’t come with any supplies.

“The spirit of this grant will permeate generations for years to come,” he added.

According to EnergyUnited Communications Manager Maureen Moore, educators who win Bright Ideas grants are going above and beyond for their students. The cooperative is excited to support teaching efforts and give back to the community.

This year, EnergyUnited will be mailing all the winners a technology kit for cell phone chargers and devices. Teachers will also be recognized on social media.

For more than 25 years, the Bright Ideas grant program, sponsored by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, has helped improve education by awarding grants to K-12 teachers for innovative, classroom-based projects that would not otherwise be funded. Since 1994, the program has awarded more than $12.9 million in grants for 12,359 projects, touching the lives of more than 2.5 million students statewide.

EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is the largest electric cooperative in North Carolina serving more than 130,000 metering points. Headquartered in Statesville, EnergyUnited provides electric service in portions of nineteen counties in west central North Carolina which include Alexander, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Wilkes and Yadkin.


Visit EnergyUnited online at to learn more about the cooperative’s community outreach efforts.

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