silver tapio

Shannon Silver and Madison Tapio speaking at the Nov. 25 event. The grants were awarded to four educators in Avery County for a variety of projects.

BLOWING ROCK — In an annual ceremony to award its Bright Ideas grants, Blue Ridge Energy recognized teachers from Avery and surrounding counties.

Four teachers in Avery County received grants for projects at their schools on Nov. 25 at Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock.

Avery County High School teacher Mark Parlier was awarded $1,250 to support high school students attending the SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference. Students will learn about management, public speaking and teamwork strategy.

Avery Middle School teacher Kim Duncan was awarded $1,000 for building productions enrichment classes at AMS, which will offer more than 50 students the chance to create sets for the middle school’s drama productions.

Banner Elk Elementary School teacher Shannon Silver was awarded $1,275 to promote cultural sensitivity at the school through an author study on Yuyi Morales, a Mexican author who was inspired to become a writer after moving to the U.S. and spending time in the local library to learn English.

Cranberry Middle School teacher Robert Tufts received $500 to purchase and install a weather station at the school to serve the students and the community.

Parlier and Duncan could not attend the event.

Interim Avery County Schools Superintendent Ken Townsend said the grants allow funding for special projects the district may not be able to budget for, and the district appreciates faculty going the extra mile to apply for the grants.

“I’m just thankful that Bright Ideas exists, and that we can do this for kids,” Silver said, adding the author study at Banner Elk Elementary will expose the students to ideas and culture they may never experience otherwise.

The grants are an annual affair and are awarded for up to $2,000 each for “innovative classroom projects.”

This marks the 25th year of the grants, which are awarded to schools in the region. More than $519,000 have been awarded since the inception of the program.

Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties also received grants in addition to Avery.

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