Flippin' the Switch

S4 E6: The Education Edition - Empowering the Minds of Students and Educators

August 01, 2023 Jones-Onslow EMC Season 4 Episode 6
S4 E6: The Education Edition - Empowering the Minds of Students and Educators
Flippin' the Switch
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Flippin' the Switch
S4 E6: The Education Edition - Empowering the Minds of Students and Educators
Aug 01, 2023 Season 4 Episode 6
Jones-Onslow EMC
Welcome to the education edition of Flippin' the Switch! In this episode, we delve into the inspiring stories of students who had the life-changing opportunity to attend this year's Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, DC.

Join us as we uncover how these young minds were given a chance to explore the nation's capital and engage with policymakers, fostering a new generation of informed and engaged citizens.

But that's not all! We also shine a spotlight on an educator from White Oak High School who is making a significant impact through the Bright Ideas grant program. Discover how this program can bring creative and transformative projects into  classrooms, enhancing the learning experience and empowering students to thrive.

Tune in for a captivating discussion on the power of education, the importance of supporting both students and educators, and the incredible initiatives shaping the future of our communities. It's an episode full of inspiration, heartwarming stories, and the boundless potential of young minds and dedicated educators. Don't miss out on this special episode of Flippin' the Switch!

Run Time: 26 min

Donate to the White Oak High School Apiary and Honeybee Education Center! https://onslow.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/20806/250/False/True

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Welcome to the education edition of Flippin' the Switch! In this episode, we delve into the inspiring stories of students who had the life-changing opportunity to attend this year's Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, DC.

Join us as we uncover how these young minds were given a chance to explore the nation's capital and engage with policymakers, fostering a new generation of informed and engaged citizens.

But that's not all! We also shine a spotlight on an educator from White Oak High School who is making a significant impact through the Bright Ideas grant program. Discover how this program can bring creative and transformative projects into  classrooms, enhancing the learning experience and empowering students to thrive.

Tune in for a captivating discussion on the power of education, the importance of supporting both students and educators, and the incredible initiatives shaping the future of our communities. It's an episode full of inspiration, heartwarming stories, and the boundless potential of young minds and dedicated educators. Don't miss out on this special episode of Flippin' the Switch!

Run Time: 26 min

Donate to the White Oak High School Apiary and Honeybee Education Center! https://onslow.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/20806/250/False/True

Speaker 1:

Welcome listeners to another episode of Flip in the Switch. I'm Navli Oldani and today we're diving into all things education. I'll be speaking with two of four students from Anso County selected to attend this year's Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington DC. They'll be sharing their experiences representing JOEMC, as they met with students from all across the country and learned more about our nation. After that, crystal Phillips will be speaking with Brandon Dillman from Wai-Dokai School about our special Bright Ideas Grant Program for educators in Anso County, jones County and surrounding areas. This program empowers educators to build upon their classroom plans and turn innovative ideas into reality. Keep listening to see how the co-op helps shape a brighter future for both students and educators alike. And with that let's start flipping the switch.

Speaker 1:

Alright, everyone, welcome back to another episode of Flip in the Switch. Today's episode is pretty special because we've got some kids in that represented us at this year's Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington DC. So we have Lily Talman and Mackenzie Morrow and they're going to share their experience with us over the past week that they were there in June. So welcome girls. Thanks for coming.

Speaker 2:

My name's Lily, I'm 17 years old and I go to Jacksonville High School. I'm a senior this year. The teacher who encouraged me to do this was Miss Brown Jones-Onslow. Employee came into our class one day and introduced the trip to us and told us how to apply, and I want to go to ECU and be a dentist when I grow up.

Speaker 3:

So I'm Mackenzie Morrow. I'm also 17. I also go to Jacksonville. The teacher who encouraged me to apply was also Miss Brown. I wasn't there the day they came, so everyone kind of filled me in and I applied, I think like last minute, like I didn't even know about it. I plan on playing Division I soccer at the Naval Academy to study oceanography.

Speaker 1:

So, for those who don't know about the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, it basically is an experience that brings high school students to Washington DC for a week in June every single year to learn more about the political process and interact with their elected officials. So they get to visit historical landmarks and buildings, journey through historical museums and enjoy connecting with other students across the country. Local Electric Cooperatives handpicked students for this opportunity based off of their application, so Jones-Onslow selected students to represent our co-op at this event and there was actually four students in total that attended. So we've actually sent more than 130 students on this trip over the past 30 years or so and we want to continue to do that in the future and we think it's such an awesome experience. So I'm going to ask you guys a brief question about the application process, just for any students that may be tuning in. What did you have to do to apply for this opportunity?

Speaker 2:

The employee came into our class and told us how to apply. The application process was super simple. It didn't take long. We had to write a 500 word essay and I chose to write about. I think we had two prompts and I chose to write about what I would do if the power went out in my city.

Speaker 3:

So like Lily, I just applied. I applied kind of last minute because I didn't know about it. I didn't have as much of a heads up. However, I also decided to write about the lights out situation, except I didn't make it realistic. I went more of a fantasy approach. I wrote about a post-apocalyptic situation and I wanted it to be more fun than actual real stuff, and I think that's what me has sent me a little bit apart.

Speaker 1:

So not a super hard process and it got you to experience a pretty cool trip. Yes, yes, Awesome. So just a little bit about your trip. When you found out you were going and you were traveling to the DC area, what were you looking forward to the most?

Speaker 2:

For me. I think the part I was most excited for before I went was to see the Smithsonian museums. Because when I first got accepted into it we didn't really have an itinerary at first when we first got in so I knew we were going to go see museums and stuff. So I think I was most excited for the Smithsonian museums.

Speaker 3:

For me. I heard that you were going to be meeting congressmen and representatives of the White House, and for the Naval Academy they require nominations from either a senator or your representative or obviously a vice presidential, and if you had more, you can. I only have those four. So I really just wanted to get personal with them and put a name to the face, because it would be really helpful for my future.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, and I heard it was your birthday when you got to do that.

Speaker 3:

It was. That was pretty special. Huh yeah, and I got a picture with him. That was nice. Oh, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

How was your travel experience with getting to DC and navigating your way around the city with the help of youth tour leaders and volunteers?

Speaker 3:

It was actually really easy. So we had a really great guy on the bus named Kevin. He was just so nice, he was so friendly all the time and he transported us on a big bus throughout DC. However, when we were not on the bus, we were allowed to walk around in groups of three or more to walk around. We walked around the National Mall. I had a group of seven. I made friends with that. We walked around and we roamed a different museums. So it was definitely a little walking. So if you're going, make sure you bring really good tennis shoes. Even on that Capitol Hill day. Don't wear high heels because you will get blisters.

Speaker 3:

So a lot of walking.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we did. Kevin was our bus driver. He was really nice. He let us go crazy on the bus, which was really sweet of him. So the trip there and back was super, super fun and that's when you made I think that's when I made my friends the most, because you were stuck together for so long, but the travel up there and back was super fun. Going around DC was even more fun for me. There is a lot of walking, so definitely wear tennis shoes. But me and my friends rented some scooters and rode around Washington, which was super fun.

Speaker 1:

What did you learn about yourself on this trip that you wouldn't have learned at home here in Jacksonville?

Speaker 3:

For me it was that, regardless of how people look or they might seem to be, they're probably like. They're more like you than you think I know for a lot of the people. I originally was hanging out more with Lily's group because I was comfortable with Lily, but I wanted to make it my mission to kind of branch out. I love Lily, but she's here, she's here. I want to meet people that are not here and I kind of went towards a group that definitely they definitely look different than me. Everyone looked different from each other and we all were very similar. So I think that was just. I learned that everyone's kind of more like than you think.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to I hate to say the same thing as Mackenzie, but I think it really is because I went and didn't expect to meet people that were the same as me. I thought people would be, I don't know just a little different, but and everybody was different but we all shared the same, you know, like interests and everything, and so I think, and even if I didn't share the same ones as everybody on the trip, everybody found not a click, but like a couple of people that really shared the same interest. So for me I had like a group of nine but it kind of turned into like a group of 22. So it expanded really quickly.

Speaker 3:

But, yeah, I think I learned the most is that we're all pretty much the same, yeah, and when we were first going on the trip, Lily and I were like we're going to stay together, we're going to be just us, along as I have you, and then we ended up separating, obviously not like intentionally because I love Lily, but end up just happening that way.

Speaker 1:

Right, and that's so good, that you were able to branch out and communicate and hang out with other people that are not from Jacksonville. I think that's the whole point, because there's so many different opportunities with people coming across the country to make new friends and network in your own way, you know so.

Speaker 3:

Everyone on the youth tour. They were all very driven Like. I didn't meet one person who didn't know what they wanted to do and everyone had to take questions. On the Capitol Hill Day, one guy was selling his first real estate thing they're all into stocks.

Speaker 2:

One guy has a pilot license.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, everyone is very above average. I didn't meet someone. I'm like what. It's insane what some of the people are capable of, and I thought it was just kind of a little bubble, but apparently you're way smaller than you actually are.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I think that when you again, like I was mentioning before, when you communicate with other people from other areas, it's kind of like I talk about this a lot, since we live in a smaller town, even though the community is so tight knit, a lot of us are big fish, small pond, and then you go out to these kinds of environments and you're a small fish in a big pond, but that's so important for personal growth, right?

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

You guys touched on your favorite parts of the trip. I would maybe say that those would be the most impactful. But if you have anything to add with this question, but if there's anything that stood out to you as far as who you met, the experiences that you had, what was the most impactful part of the trip to you that maybe you'll carry into this last year of high school, For the?

Speaker 3:

diversity aspect. A lot of people came from different cultures and in my group there was like two or three that they used to not go by like their real names because their parents thought it would be bad for, like, getting colleges or getting jobs. But upcoming this year, when they're applying to colleges and applying to jobs, they're actually starting to use those real names. That was kind of an eye-opener, because I've never had that problem. My parents have never thought about that, but it's a big deal for them in their culture, so that was just like really impactful for me. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I think for me I'm a good talker and I like to talk and use my voice with other people, but I think I also learned to listen better, which I think is very important, because everybody there has a lot to say and it's not just about what I have to say or Mackenzie has to say. So I think in hearing people's questions while we were at Capitol Hill, that was crazy, because there was a couple of girls that I mean like these questions were like Thought out, for it sounds like months. So I think even in Capitol Hill I didn't ask as many questions, but I I listened more and I think that was very important because I got to learn more that I wouldn't have asked if I wouldn't have been there.

Speaker 3:

So right, and one of these girls. She's actually the one that used to not go by a real name. Her name that she introduced was Haley, but her real names of Maru, and she was one of those girls asking like all those questions, and her questions were like insane. She also won the youth tour, like the. Ylc oh wow, so Her questions were really.

Speaker 2:

I learned a lot just from her.

Speaker 1:

So that's awesome, like sponges almost yeah trying to soak up all of the information and Experiences that other people have to, not even just yourself. You know that's really cool. So, with you guys Speaking about, you know, listening to other students that came on the trip and you know, learning from them, kind of, is a great segue into my next question, which is many other students from across the country were here with you guys. Can you talk about how Different the experience for you guys would have been? How do you not been exposed to other students from other areas and it was maybe just you for going to DC?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I definitely would not have gone. Bargains Like DC is expensive and being around them, so they could speak multiple languages. One was French, spanish, and they were able to bargain to get things cheaper. Because if you approach them in Spanish or another language, they'll get you something for cheap, like because you're not a tourist. So we would have definitely been a little bit more broke for one.

Speaker 3:

On top of that, I think I wouldn't have gone to some of the museums I did or spent as much time in them. I also probably would have have walked that much. I think we would have kind of sat down and just done nothing because we were so familiar already with each other.

Speaker 2:

I think, um, meeting people from different areas was just so fun to hear about Just what people do every day and like how different our lives are but how the same they are and like we have the same interest, like I already mentioned. But I also loved meeting people just from different states. That was like one of my favorite parts because not only did we have a good friend group from North Carolina, but when we, for example, we went on like a boat cruise one night I think it was like the first night we were there we met Texas and that was probably the most fun I had on the trip was on that boat with Texas, because you just meet so many people that are the same as you but you Learn so much from everybody.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, and being with people you're not used to, you kind of Be more outgoing, for me at least, because I I'm very introverted. It took me a lot to kind of go up to someone I was uncomfortable with, but they helped me meet new states. They let me talk to different people. There was like a group of guys on the bus that were like I'm not talking to them ever and then I ended up, since you had a group of seven, I had to sit next to one of them every single time and they actually bit were so nice and I never would have approached them or even talked to them on the bus if I didn't meet the people I met on the tour right, expanding your horizons, and especially when it comes to those interpersonal relationships.

Speaker 1:

I think, speaking from experience, you know being in college that's such a huge Life skill to have and carry with you into your future, so I'm really glad you guys got to, got to experience that. How do you think participating in this trip will contribute to your plans in the future so you can kind of expand on that if you want to? Or if you walked away from the trip knowing like, wow, I'm gonna take this with me and this is gonna help in my future development, you can share about that as well.

Speaker 2:

I think and I know McKenzie talked about making connections with, like, our legislators and everything but For me, I think I did learn that making connections will be really helpful when you go, try to go into, like, the big world, when you need a job and you need to know people. So I think, taking that away, I think that'll be important for my future because if you make those connections, you never know who is gonna know somebody, who's gonna know somebody that can help you get a job that you want or help teach you about a college you want to get into. So I think that's really important to make connections with people, even if you don't know that you're gonna need them in the future.

Speaker 3:

So right, and, like Lily said, like almost every single person we talked to on Capitol Hill, they were all about connections.

Speaker 3:

They're like I got this job because of this person and I didn't realize like, wow, everyone you meet is gonna impact your life, good or bad, but most of the time they could be good. And, as for me, for what I'm gonna take away and really help me in the future is gonna be meeting that congressman, because I've been in contact and stuff and I've been able to get to know him and I need that nomination like really bad. So he's definitely.

Speaker 1:

I met Dr Congressman Murphy and I really just need that was a really good meeting to have so my last question would be and you know you talked about the application process and how easy that was but now, having experienced this trip, what would you tell other high school students that may be given the opportunity to apply for youth tour in the future?

Speaker 2:

I'd say do it 100%. I never had a bad time, I was never bored, I was never like I'm, like I'm tired, I don't want to do this anymore like I always and I'm not good at waking up early, like I cannot wake up early, but I always woke up because I knew Like the more time we had in the day, the more time we'd have to like be with all of our friends and go places, and you really Do. I'm not gonna say free time, but you do have a lot of time to bond with everybody. You're constantly doing things, but some of those things you're doing with your friends it's not like all on the agenda. So I think it's like such a great opportunity and I wouldn't like I wouldn't go back and not do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, definitely apply because, like Lily said, you're gonna meet all these great people and, yes, you're always doing something. You're either walking around, you're going to Memorial, you're going to museum Scootering you're. You're always doing something, but you're with people, great people you're gonna be with, and my friends and I were still in contact, like we're gonna meet up soon in Raleigh area and I know we I'm in a group chat with her friends too.

Speaker 1:

So I said that she was. She was talking to the people that she hung out with as well, so group chat is still alive.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'm in that group chat too, so I was like I was in both groups. But I think it was just a really good experiencing and an eye-opener and I think their friendships that you could actually have going to your college Because you'll probably see a lot of these youth tourists and big named things because everyone's really determined there.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. Thanks, guys, so much for sharing about your experience. It's always a pleasure to be able to talk to the students that we choose directly and hear about their Trip, especially being fresh off the trip. I mean, it's only been a couple weeks since you've been and if you want to see any of the highlights of their trip, we did post a little bit on social media. You can also follow the hashtag on social media hashtag and see youth tour and you may even see some content with the other students that attended. But thank you guys, so much for coming. If you're interested in applying for youth tour next year, be on the lookout for information about that when the school year starts and your teacher may have some more information on how you can make that happen.

Speaker 4:

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Speaker 5:

Well, in lieu of what's happening this month, we have a special guest with us, brandon Dillman from White Oak High School, and we're gonna be talking a little bit about our bright ideas program that we have here at Jones-Onslow. And for those of you that are not aware of what bright ideas is because I'm sure there's somebody out there in the world that doesn't know what it is it's a program that we have here at Jones-Onslow and also all of our students are. It's a program that we have here at Jones-Onslow and also all 26 co-ops within the state of North Carolina are members of this program. But at Jones-Onslow it's been going strong for 30 years. This fall so we're really excited.

Speaker 5:

We have awarded so many projects that have impacted over 600,000 students throughout the time, just in our local community, and we've awarded over 1.6 million and we're still going ahead. So there's money to be given to educators and Brandon is one of those educators that has been participating in this program for a number of years. So let's get started. So, brandon, yes, you are educator from White Oak High School, but can you tell us a little bit about what you do at White Oak and what your specialty is is in the classroom and outside the classroom?

Speaker 6:

Yeah, I've been at White Oak High School for 15 years now. This is going into year 16. I've made, I've taught science like that's, that's my bag the the whole time. Most of what I've been teaching is earth and environmental science, particularly on the environmental side of things, and so that's been kind of my major role. I also have a club sponsor of the green team, which is an environmental group, which we have over like 80 some members each year. Yeah, so there's a lot of kids trying to get invested in our better place, that's right our environment.

Speaker 5:

That's a good one. So let's talk about, like how did you get started with the bright ideas program?

Speaker 6:

So I guess I've been around since about half of its start time, which is kind of crazy. But yeah 2008, 2009.

Speaker 6:

I want to say is, when I started and someone just mentioned to me like hey, you know, there's a, there's a way. If you want some extra lab stuff or some things that, like you know, we, the schools, can't really, you know, afford, then try to reach out and apply for this grant. And I was like, okay, sure, why not? And so I applied for it, and I think it was the first or second time I applied I got one.

Speaker 5:

That's awesome.

Speaker 6:

Yeah and yeah, and I just it's fairly easy. I mean it's it's a pretty simple application. It's maybe it takes you about 30 to 40 minutes to fill out, which is a no-brainer to fill out out for some free money, and and that's that's where I got my start with it.

Speaker 5:

So one thing that you mentioned it was one of those things that helped you cover some expenses of a project you might have wanted to do, but the school didn't have the money and they didn't need, and you'd personally didn't have the money oh your pocket either. And that's kind of how the bright ideas program started. It all started with one lady and a Shopping line and there was a teacher in front of her that had her cart full of items and she was like hey, that lady doesn't need to be buying 15 packs of colored pencils for her kids. There's got to be something better. So it's a collective of people coming together to try to help educators make something really innovative in the classroom happen, and that's exactly what you're doing. So let's kind of talk about from that first project, which we had kind of talked before we got on air here, to where you are now. So how have your projects impacted the students that you work with and where did you start?

Speaker 6:

Well, I mean, I started with just basic science equipment to teach science stuff and then it kind of evolved into, like you said, a bright idea, right? Something different that I wanted to try. So in I don't know, 2015, 16, somewhere in there, I got the idea to.

Speaker 6:

it wasn't my idea, it was some of the students' ideas actually to bring bees onto campus and to start managing honey bees on campus, and so that was kind of one of the I knew bright ideas was an easy way of trying to get some quick money to get that started, but we obviously had to buy safety equipment for the kids and the bees themselves and all the equipment. So it wasn't just bright ideas but that they gave us the start for it and since then it's kind of evolved into a lot more than that. I mean it's obviously grown the green team quite a bit, I'd say so yeah, Haiti is strong, Got more kids interested in environmentalism, and now we have quite a few beekeepers on campus student beekeepers on campus too.

Speaker 6:

So I think that for my experience with bright ideas it's kind of been the gateway to even bigger and better and more prominent ideas.

Speaker 5:

So I think one of those things that starts small and then we always have a whole slew of cheesy electric terms that we could do but it definitely has sparked a lot of interest in there, you go had to bring that in. So let's talk about, like, the application process. To keep it simple for somebody that might be listening and say, hey, I have a small idea that I think could be really great for the students inside of my classroom. How does that work for you guys?

Speaker 6:

I mean, like I said, it's a really easy application process. So I think that if you're hesitant on filling it out, don't be, because it's really like maybe four or five paragraphs that you're writing.

Speaker 6:

At the most, yeah, and again, I think that it can help, like you said in the beginning, with just school supplies or things that we would need as teachers, but it also could lead you down a new, innovative path to impact kids' education in a different way, like the bees. So I feel like it's one of those things that it's such a great grant process, because it can fund different things, not just school supplies. It can fund really new and innovative ideas as well.

Speaker 5:

And I think with you know we had talked about this one of those things with bright ideas. Like you're filling out the application, you may have questions, but there are a lot of educators within the walls of the building that you are in that you could probably reach out to and I think you've had that experience as well.

Speaker 6:

Right, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I've mentored quite a few teachers in just the application process and they'll kind of be like, okay, what are they looking for here? And I'm like, well, just tell them how it's going to impact kids, because that's really what this is all about is trying to make it better for the kids, so that I've done that a number of times. I'm doing that this year with a couple of teachers that have already reached out to me last year, when the application became available and they're like, hey, give me some tips on writing these.

Speaker 6:

I'm like I'd be happy to do so.

Speaker 5:

Like you're like the grandmaster of bright ideas grants.

Speaker 6:

I don't know, but I have been awarded a few of them, so I appreciate that.

Speaker 5:

I believe. So it doesn't sound like you had a lot of hurdles when it came to filling out the application. So do you let's talk about like, do you apply as an individual or do you go with the team?

Speaker 6:

So I always apply with the team, because the number one impacts more teachers, but also more students, but also you can get more money out of that one. That's right.

Speaker 5:

Because if you apply as a team, the group gets $2,000 as their bright ideas grant and if you were the lone ranger, you're applying for a $500 grant.

Speaker 6:

But it's always good to include more teachers in that process because, again, it allows for collaboration and they have more kids to be impacted. So I would always go with the group. That's. That's my.

Speaker 5:

I like that idea. I think that's great. So, as we move forward, the application is already open, so teachers have the opportunity to go ahead and apply. Do you have any other advice that you might give an educator that's thinking maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't.

Speaker 6:

I would say if there's an idea that you have as an educator that you think you know will work or that will allow kids to learn in a different and better way, then apply, because that this is the perfect venue for that, to gather money and resources for your idea, even if it fails, but at least you're trying to impact kids in a bigger way. So I think that there's there should be no hesitation whatsoever, absolutely.

Speaker 5:

Hey, you can be the spokesperson for all bright ideas grants, Anytime anytime. You know we are funding bright ideas grants to over 52 schools Just in our service area. So we're going out towards Topsoil, ansela County and Jones. So don't ever think that you're not even a possibility, because you're most certainly our possibility and the idea could spark something so fabulous for everybody in your classroom. So check out bright ideas at joemccom. Backslash bright ideas. Thanks, brandon.

Speaker 7:

No problem. Well, folks, that'll do it for this episode of flipping the switch Until next time. If you don't currently follow us on Facebook, instagram or any of our other social media channels, consider doing so. It's the best way to keep informed about what's going on with your cooperative. Thanks again.

Experiences and Lessons From Youth Tour
Brandon's Experience With Bright Ideas Program