When English teacher Carole Griffin started losing sleep over the challenges faced by her students, she spent hours researching how she could best support them in improving academic performance.
At J. F. Webb High School in Oxford, the majority of incoming freshman were not proficient in reading. Griffin understood the importance of improving reading scores, but she knew that in order to do that, she first needed to improve reading attitudes. To engage her students in reading, Griffin turned to a Bright Ideas grant from Wake Electric. Sponsored by electric cooperatives in North Carolina, Bright Ideas grants provide funding for teachers to implement innovative classroom projects that expand student learning. Previously, Griffin was limited to only the books available in her school; however, with a Bright Ideas grant, she made it possible for each of her students to purchase a book of their choosing.
“Picking these books made me want to read because I know it’s something that will be interesting to me,” said Makiya, one of Griffin’s students.
Griffin’s project, “Believing in Reading,” was created to inspire students, encourage them to be more engaged in reading and build literacy skills that would propel them into their futures. Students selected their desired books at the beginning of the school year and dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to reading. To enhance the learning experience for her students, Griffin has each reader submit a daily vocabulary log and a weekly reading log. These exercises will help students build their metacognition of unknown words and contribute to an increased appreciation for reading.
“I couldn’t have imagined the impact that receiving a Bright Ideas grant would have on my classes,” said Griffin. “Once reluctant readers now ask for more reading time. There are not enough words to express my gratitude to the Bright Ideas program and to the generous North Carolina electric co-ops and their members who support this life-changing program.”
Now several months into the project, Griffin says the project has been transformative. Students are on track to achieve their literacy goals, and best of all, they are enjoying it! Several described the experience as “life changing,” giving them access to books and learning opportunities they would not have otherwise.
“I love the book I picked and enjoy it because it teaches you about life. I notice I read faster now, and I thought reading was so boring,” said Zaniah, one of Griffin’s students. “That’s why I never liked reading back in elementary and middle school, but now I see how important it is to read and I cannot wait to pick out another book.”
Don Bowman, vice president of engineering and operations, and assistant general manager of Wake Electric, said the teachers that receive Bright Ideas grants are truly making a difference.
“The Bright Ideas Education Grant program encourages local teachers to develop innovative classroom ideas that can be implemented to enhance the education process and develop future leaders,” Bowman said. “Funded by the members that round up their monthly electric bills, this program keeps Wake Electric directly engaged with the communities that it serves.”
Since 1994, the Bright Ideas education grant program supported by North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives has awarded over $14.3 million in support of 13,536 projects that have impacted well over 2.8 million students statewide.