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Jackson EMC’s Bright Ideas grants help fund special projects in Hall County schools
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Katie Rountree’s “Calling All Readers” literacy project got a big lift recently when Jackson EMC awarded $500 to the 6th grade language arts teacher at Chestatee Academy in Hall County

Katie Rountree’s “Calling All Readers” project got a big lift recently when Jackson EMC awarded $500 to the sixth-grade language arts teacher at Chestatee Academy in Hall County.

Rountree was one of five teachers and two local middle schools to receive grant funding from Jackson EMC’s Bright Ideas program. More than $5,000 in total will be distributed.

Rountree was joined by Chestatee colleagues Terri Gruenenfelder, a sixth-grade science teacher who won $1,000 for her earth science exploration box project; Dawn Hudgins, a seventh-grade science teacher who received $1,616 to expose her students to genealogical research methods; and Carrie Jane Sparks, an eighth-grade science teacher who was awarded $634 to allow students to create and research atoms and molecules.

At East Hall Middle School, meanwhile, Lona Hall, a sixth-grade science teacher, received $1,255 for a classroom project designed to create a Martian settlement using the concepts of wind and solar energy. 

In 2018, Jackson EMC has awarded more than $51,000 in Bright Ideas grants to 43 teachers in 20 schools across its service area.

An independent panel of judges evaluates the applications based on measurable goals and objectives, innovation, student involvement and implementation plans. 

In her project proposal to Jackson EMC, which she shared with The Times, Rountree described why her project was needed and how it would work.

“I want to meet all readers at their level,” she said. “Students need a wide variety of texts that will allow them to read about their personal interests and on their reading level. This will hopefully create a positive reading experience for all students and help close reading gaps.

Research shows that reluctant readers will read more when given personal choice on book titles.”

Rountree said she would have students set their own reading goals and assess their current reading comprehension aptitude.

“Next, I will show the kids the various titles in the high-interest set of books and then they can pick the book they would like to read,” she added.

“My ultimate project goal is to allow all kids a chance to find a love of reading and grow as a reader.”

For more information on the Jackson EMC Bright Ideas grant program, visit