November 24, 2015

PEF hiring for multiple positions

Are you deeply committed to public education and ready for a challenging, rewarding career? Join the PEF staff and help us increase student achievement so all student succeed in learning and in life.

The following positions are accepting applications; please read the complete position descriptions for materials requested, contact information, and review dates.

Please share these opportunities with your networks. Public Education Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a demonstrated commitment to hiring individuals who reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

More information about PEF is available on our website.

November 19, 2015

Principal Leadership Academy Session

IMG_7371Principal Leadership Academy Session today was a powerful learning session of managerial leadership. The day started with HCDE attorney D. Scott Bennett giving “Introduction to School Law.” This two hour session covered topics ranging from state law, personal liability, and student discipline to student speech.


The afternoon continued with an open conversation with school directors Karen Hollis, Steve Holmes, Neelie Parker and LeAndrea Ware. They discussed characteristics and practices of well managed school, tips on managing schools, do’s and don’ts around operation, hiring practices and more.

The Principal Leadership Academy is an intensive, year-long program to train, mentor and prepare our future principal leaders.

–  Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator 

November 10, 2015

Learning with Leadership Fellows

I dropped in on a session of Leadership Fellows cohort 17 this week to learn more about the year-long program for aspiring education leaders. Like many of our programs, LFs meet in PEF’s Holmberg Leadership Center, a wonderful space designed for group activities. The meeting began at 4:30 p.m., which is late in the day for anyone to think about major topics in education. Most of the Fellows walked into work before the sun came up today and yet they’re eager to come together once a month to learn and grow in their profession.

PEF’s Vice President of Leadership Bill Kennedy led this month’s session on “Facilitating Conversations.” Bill is a veteran of public schools in every way imaginable and watching him work with a group of teachers is pure magic. He’s a public school graduate, former Tyner High teacher, Dalewood adminstrator, and CSAS principal for 12 years. After he retired, he came to PEF to led our efforts to build the next generation of great educators. He’s married to Susan Kennedy, also a retired principal from Hamilton County.

Bill explained that Leadership Fellows is for people interested in leading adults, rather than working with students. One hallmark of Leadership Fellows is reflecting on articles, videos, or other materials using these three questions: What strikes you? What questions do you have? What implications does it have for your work, either as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, assistant or principal?

Tuesday’s session started with this provocative TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson:

There’s a lot to discuss in this video, so using the three questions posed above, Bill started the conversation. I watched for a few minutes and then stepped out to allow true, frank conversations to develop without worrying that their thoughts would be blogged.

Leadership Fellows provides aspiring leaders with the time and space to dig in to the tough and complicated issues surrounding public education. And PEF education experts are there to guide them and model how to have those conversations with others.

– Shannon Edmondson, Development & Communications Officer

November 5, 2015

Hamilton Sings! Teacherpreneur event Nov. 10

Charlene Cook (East Ridge Elementary) and colleague Claire Stockman (Red Bank Elementary) are the Teacherpreneurs behind Hamilton Sings!, a county-wide concert on Tuesday, November 10 featuring over 100 5th grade music students.

PEF’s Geoff Millener and Ms. Cook recently spoke to WDEF’s Joe Legge about the event:

Students will come together from all over our community for a day of rehearsal, with the experience culminating in a concert highlighting their talents, hard work and the arts. There will be a special performance by the Sweet Adelines, Chattanooga’s female barbershop singers. The public is encouraged to attend and donations will be accepted to support Hamilton Sings!

Hamilton Sings!
All-County Elementary Honor Choir
Tuesday, November 10  7:00 pm
First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave. (see a map)

Hamilton Sings! is a music learning and performance opportunity featuring students of Hamilton County Elementary Schools. This annual experience will provide a unique environment in which students will develop skills culminating in a dynamic musical performance. Participants will network with students from all Hamilton County elementary schools to create a community in harmony. Hamilton Sings! ignites the creative and artistic spirit that thrives in the Chattanooga area today in our youngest citizens.

October 20, 2015

Read Fund for Teachers blogs, watch a video, get inspired, apply!

Fund for Teachers provides educators the resources needed to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences. FFT grants are used for an unlimited variety of projects; all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students and their school communities. We believe that supporting teachers’ active participation in their own professional growth positively impacts student learning and achievement.

PEF is proud to be the local partner for Hamilton County Department of Education applicants. Applications are scored according to the Fund for Teachers rubric by a local team of educators, previous Fellows, community leaders, and PEF staff members. Grants of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for teams are awarded in the spring for summer 2016 expeditions.

During the summer of 2015, 26 educators – either solo or in teams – traveled across the U.S. and the globe as Fund for Teachers Fellows. Many blogged about their experiences before, during, and since.

James Carpenter of Ooltewah High wrote about his travels to London, Paris, and Rome to strengthen his AP European History course.

Kristin Burrus (middle school earth science) and Janie Fossett (high school math and architecture) of CSAS teamed up in San Francisco to learn more about earthquakes – and came back to develop an earthquake-proof building design project for their students. They’re featured in the video below:

Susan Morrison (a repeat FFT Fellow!), Kirsten Legac, and Julie Smith of East Hamilton Middle/High traveled to Vietnam to get a first-hand perspective on the legacies of war, both cold and conventional.

Applications are now available for 2016 Fellowships and are due on or before January 28, 2016; see our FFT page for dates, eligibility, and links to the online application. You don’t have to do it alone, either! We’ll be hosting information and writing sessions between November and January to help teachers submit strong proposals. For more information, contact Leslie Graitcer, program coordinator.

October 15, 2015

Passport Scholars share experiences on October 22; public invited

Our Passport Scholars initiative helps high school girls set and achieve goals for their academic and life journeys. The girls enter the program with little exposure to the larger world, and after participating in a rigorous summer enrichment program they return more confident, capable and open-minded. With the opportunity to travel, meet new people and see new worlds, program participants are better equipped to make a difference in their own lives and communities. The summer experience lays a foundation upon which to build for college and for life.

This summer eleven Passport Scholars completed summer enrichment programs. Kalli Hall, who went to the Summer Scholars Academy at Texas Lutheran University, wrote, “I never thought I could learn so much in so little time! I’m having so much fun here and am so thankful for the opportunity!”

Stacy Lightfoot, program coordinator and Vice President of College & Career Success, said our girls represented themselves, their families, and PEF well at their programs.  Stacy recently received an email from Jessie Young, drawing teacher at the Putney School Summer Program, about Passport Scholar Hannah Kelley: “I’m going to miss you so much. You were so enjoyable to work with this summer both because you worked so hard and because your work was consistently so strong. Also, you were always so enjoyable to talk to, and I loved hearing all about your home and your family. I’m honored that you were willing to share so many personal stories, and I felt like I really got to know you over the past three weeks.”

As part of their ongoing Passport experience, Scholars present their summer learning expeditions during a poster showcase each fall. The public is encouraged to attend on Thursday, October 22 at 6 pm in the lobby of PEF, 100 E. 10th Street, in downtown Chattanooga. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email Stacy Lightfoot or call 423.648.4443.

Applications for the 2015-2016 class of Passport Scholars are due October 29.

October 12, 2015

Join PEF during Startup Week

PEF is hosting two events during Startup Week, and you’re invited! We think there’s a lot education can learn from the entrepreneurial spirit that has infused our community – and just as much Chattanooga’s entrepreneurs and startups can learn from our educators.

This Tuesday, October 13th from 5-6pm, we’re hosting a Teacherpreneur Showcase, highlighting the incubator and the innovative spirit of Hamilton County teachers. Featuring the debut of our Teacherpreneur film and a talk from PEF’s VP of Learning, Keri Randolph, you’ll have a chance to meet and mingle with our Teacherpreneurs! Join us at the Edney Innovation Building (16 11th St.), in the new community space on the 5th Floor. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

On Thursday, October 15th from 4.30-6pm, we’ve partnered with our friends at Mozilla for Entrepreneurship + Education: Chattanooga’s Next Big Thing? Featuring lightning talks from our own Keri Randolph, Daniel Ryan (founder of DRyan), Benwood’s Lori Quillen, Kara Gahagen of LAUNCH, Principal of the STEM School Tony Donen and Teacherpreneurs Lindsey Hagan and Patricia Russell, we’ll be having a frank and inclusive conversation about entrepreneurship and education in the Gig City. We’ll again be on the 5th floor of the Edney Building, in the heart of Chattanooga’s new Innovation District. (And light hors d’oeuvres will also be served.)

We hope you’ll be able to join us for our events – and be sure to check out the full schedule for more exciting events, from keynote speakers to evening socials, during Startup Week.

– PEF Teacherpreneur Team

October 9, 2015

2015 Camp College recap

Fifty high school seniors from 16 different Hamilton County public high schools attended the 16th annual Camp College experience this summer. One summed up her thoughts this way: “Camp College is the greatest academic experience I’ve ever had in my life.”

2015 Camp College

Thanks to the generosity of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, this year students were able to experience a career exploration day before traveling to Sewanee: The University of the South. With some concrete career paths in mind, the two-and-a-half day on-campus retreat began with college essay writing workshops, continued as students experienced dorm and dining hall life, and ended with as much concentration on financial aid forms as the ever-popular talent show. Camp College relies on the generosity of faculty members from across the country who volunteer their time and expertise, as well as significant support from Sewanee.

While the retreat experience of Camp College is only for a few days, it has a lifelong impact: 93% of participants attend college (most are the first in their family to do so!), and even better, 98% return for their sophomore year – far exceeding peers with a family history of college attendance.

Watch this highlight video for a glimpse inside the Camp College program. Then, consider a gift in support of this vital program.

October 2, 2015

Now hiring: Director of Finance & Operations

Are you deeply committed to public education and believe it is the foundation of a thriving community? Are you a CPA looking for a mission-driven career opportunity? If so, you may be PEF’s next Director of Finance and Operations!

The position requires a strong finance background coupled with a passion for improving public schools. See the full job description for more details.

Review of applications will begin on October 26, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

Public Education Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a demonstrated commitment to hiring individuals who reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. Please forward this posting to potential applicants.

September 16, 2015

Emily O’Donnell joins PEF staff as Vice President for External Relations

Public Education Foundation has selected Emily O’Donnell as the organization’s Vice President for External Relations. Ms. O’Donnell will lead the nonprofit’s fundraising and communications strategies, and develop and expand partnerships to strengthen PEF’s efforts to transform public education so students succeed in learning and in life.

Emily ODonnell

“We are delighted to welcome Emily to our staff,” said Dan Challener, President of PEF. “For the last seven years, she has worked as a highly respected attorney at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. I am very happy that Emily will bring her outstanding skills to Public Education Foundation and help us continue our efforts to increase student achievement and strengthen public schools.”

Ms. O’Donnell said, “I am deeply committed to PEF’s mission to improve student achievement. Strong public schools are vital to our community’s success and I look forward to building relationships with individuals, businesses, and organizations that share that belief.”

According to PEF Board Chair Jim Hill, “Emily’s strong relationship skills and enthusiasm for the cause of public education will make her a tremendous asset to PEF.” Review spellcaster maxim.

Ms. O’Donnell earned a B.A. from Sewanee: The University of the South and a J.D. from the Georgia State University College of Law. She serves on the board of the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga and is a trustee for Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga. She and her husband Johnny live in Red Bank with their daughters Molly and Ellie.

She can be reached at or 423.648.4449.

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