Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Palmetto Electric Trust awarded $44,875 in Bright Ideas grants to 50 deserving teachers during a virtual Zoom presentation on Oct. 28. 

Earlier this year, teachers from southern Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties submitted proposals for innovative classroom projects. A total of 69 grant applications, totaling more than $60,385, were received. 

“This year has been filled with challenges for all of us, especially our local teachers,” said Berl Davis, president and CEO of Palmetto Electric Cooperative. “We are excited to award 50 grants to benefit students in our three-county service area,”

Because of COVID precautions, the cooperative’s Bright Ideas Prize Team was not able to surprise the winning teachers in the classrooms. Instead, representatives from the cooperative and the trust hosted the Zoom presentation for all teacher applicants, principals and superintendents. 

Signs reading “A Bright Ideas Grant Winner Teaches Here,” gift bags and checks were delivered to each school.   

Area winners are:


Bluffton Middle School: $955, Heidi McAllister.

Cross Schools: $520, Heather Brougham-Cook; $1,000, Pam Donahue; $675, Amanda Kropiewnicki; $1,000, Karen Penale; $900, Ashley Sanders; $990, Dr. Nancy Ungvarsky.

Hilton Head Island High School: $1,000, Tarken K. Best; $1,000, Matthew Pheiffer; $1,000, John Wyatt. 

Hilton Head Island Middle School: $330, Kelley Duffy; $920, Irma Rameizl.

Hilton Head Preparatory: $800, Louise Goodman; $675, Bethany Ramseur.

May River Montessori: $1,000, Sari Kandel.

Okatie Elementary School: $1,000, Siobhan McCann.

St. Francis Catholic School: $745, Lesley Brewster.


Ben Hazel Primary School: $850, Anita Turner Padgett; $1,000, Michelle H. Purdy.

Hampton Elementary School: $1,000, Susie Laffitte. 

Patrick Henry Academy: $1,000, Nicole Barnes; $800, Sarah Padget; $1,000 Tricia Stanley. 

Wade Hampton High School: $735, Gangadhar Padigela.


Hardeeville Elementary/Jasper County Alternative Program: $975, Tawanna Chatman.

Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School: $600, Christina J. Randall.

Polaris Tech Charter School: $980, Kirsten Palmer.

Ridgeland Elementary School: $900, Kenneth M. Fisher.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School/Jasper Advanced Career and Technology Center: $995, Terry Grant-Robinson.

Royal Live Oaks Academy: $930, Bethanne Barner; $475, Brian Barry; $995, Anne Brown; $1,000, Allison Butler-Carson; $1,000, Robin Connolly; $1,000, Gregg Dixon; $1,000, Kodwo Dowell; $1,000, Elizabeth Gunderson; $980, Ced’Rica Johnson; $1,000, Angela Occasion; $1,000, Origaima Padilla; $1,000, Donald Pearson; $990, Romeo Ranera; $1,000, Angela Richardson; $1,000, Christopher Smith. 

Step of Faith Christian Academy: $860, Karen Creech; $1,000, Alisha Herlong; $1,000, Savannah Womble.

Thomas Heyward Academy: $1,000, Al Boni; $300, Ben Herod; $1,000, Kandi Hewlett.   

The Bright Ideas program was created in 2004 to benefit local teachers in grades K-12. These grants give teachers the money required to put their innovative classroom projects into action. This year, whether teaching virtually or in-person, teachers have been forced to get creative with how they reach their students and need the community’s support now, more than ever before. 

Since the program’s inception, area teachers have received $603,941 in grants.