Carteret-Craven Cooperative hands out grants

Courtney Merkel wants to prepare her students for the future, and for her, the future is technology.

“You can never have too much technology, especially in this day and age,” said Merkel, a second-grade teacher at Roger Bell Elementary School in Havelock.

Merkel was one of eight educators at five Havelock-area schools to receive Bright Ideas grants from Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative Tuesday.

It’s the third grant of this kind for Merkel. In this round, she received $650 she will use to purchase 10 Kindle Fire tablets for her students.

“A Kindle Fire lets my student have access to text so everyone can have the same books so we are all learning together,” said Merkel. “Some students, if they don’t know the words, we’ll be able to read it to them. Other kids can just read it and we can all work on the same book together. It’s better than purchasing 10 of the same book. I only have to purchase one text and load to all of the Kindle Fires.”

According to Merkel, some of her students don’t have access to technology at home.

“It’s our job here at school to make sure they can learn to use technology because they are going to have to be using it, so I am going to make sure they are well prepared for the future to be well rounded citizens,” said Merkel. “With our kids, transitioning to the 21st century, for their jobs in the future and for current ways, holding a book is not the only way they need to be able to read. They need to be able to read through technology also because that’s the wave of the future and they need to be prepared.”

John Scarfpin, a technical education teacher at Havelock High School, received $999.80 for Kindle Fire Units.

“The curriculum that I am writing I can go through and publish it as a pdf and push it out to each device and this way, being that it is a technology course, I keep my curriculum current and up to date instead of teaching a more historic perspective,” said Scrafpin. “I don’t have up-to-date textbooks to start with, so I’m always having to keep things up to date. There are still some valuable things in the older textbooks that I have. Some of the terminology doesn’t change.”

The technology, though, is changing all the time, he said.

“With the Kindle Fire tablets, they have a teacher tool called Whispercast,” said Scarfpin. “Whispercast allows me to take the content that is on my computer and simultaneously push it out to all the devices, and this way the students will have the content in a digital format that they are a little more accustomed to viewing.

“They will be able to read their assignments there. They will be able to use the HD cameras that are on them to create video content and pictures. They will be able to send that back and forth with me through Whispercast and I will be able to pull their assignments from there. And they can also upload it directly also to Moodle that we are using in the class as well.”

Scarfpin’s students are on the cutting edge using 3D printers to create parts for autonomous vehicles and other creations.

Other area Bright Ideas grants awarded Tuesday included Kathy Leffler of Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School, Terri Sparnell of Early College EAST, and Naomi Clark and Thomas June, and Ronald Murrell and Sara Foster of Havelock Middle School.

The Bright Ideas grant program contributed $5,637 to Craven County teachers and $17,678 in 22 grants to Carteret County teachers. The grants range from $300 to $1,000 and will benefit 7,250 students.

“There is nothing better than seeing the joy of the teachers and students alike when they realize they can put their projects into action,” said Carteret-Craven Electric’s Lisa Taylor-Galizia, who helped hand the checks out Tuesday.

The teachers appreciate the grants.

“Sometimes we don’t get everything that we need and it’s hard for teachers for it to come out of their pocket, so we have to find and come up with creative ways, and N.C. Bright Ideas, they always help us through grants to give us technology to help us have access to things that we normally couldn’t afford to do,” said Merkel.