March 23, 2015

PLA graduate unites student leaders from Baylor & Brainerd

Students from Baylor School and Brainerd High may seem to be worlds apart. But Dr. Charles Mitchell, assistant principal at Brainerd High, believed leadership could bring them together to find common ground and destroy misconceptions.

Dr. Mitchell is a member of the current Principal Leadership Academy cohort and developed the program in collaboration with his executive business mentor Steve Zabel, Senior Vice President at Unum, during his year-long PLA experience.

WRCB Channel 3’s David Carroll highlighted the program recently; watch the video below to learn more. | Chattanooga News, Weather

March 20, 2015

Teacherpreneur Incubator update

Back in August, PEF’s Teacherpreneur 48Hour Launch engaged the community with innovative, out-of-the-box thinking from teachers across Hamilton County. So, how have things been going this school year? STEM Program Associate Lauren Wade made the rounds of local media with some of our incredible educators this week. As Lauren explained on Channel 9, leadership doesn’t always mean moving into school administration.


Dan Basel at Ganns Middle Valley shared his All-Star Assessments program with WTVC Channel 9 – it’s an app to help teachers track scores and then give feedback to students and parents.

Hear from Lindsey Hagan and Patricia Russell of Bess T. Shepherd Elementary on WDEF Channel 12 about their Leadership Think Tank, a way to help students build 21st century skills like collaboration, leadership, and team work.   Chris Morris wasn’t funded at the Launch, but that didn’t stop him. He spoke with WRCB Channel 3 about how his Morrissey Awards are changing the culture at East Ridge High by recognizing growth in a student’s character.


We proud to work with these and other educators every day to transform classrooms across our community. To learn more about the Incubator and see a short video about the initiative, visit our Teacherpreneur page.

March 16, 2015

Suzy Anthony promoted to CFO

Congratulations to our colleague Suzy M. Anthony, who was recently promoted to Chief Financial Officer – the first in PEF’s history. Read about Suzy’s background and what she’ll be doing to help PEF grow and build on 25 years of innovative, effective work to improve public education.

Jim Hill, Chair of the PEF Board, says it best: “Suzy’s dedication to her work helps PEF pursue our mission efficiently, steward our grants and contributions properly, and help promote an organizational culture of innovation. She is a tremendous asset to PEF.”



March 10, 2015

PEF proud to partner in TechHire initiative

PEF is excited to be a part of the White House’s national “TechHire” initiative which launched yesterday in Washington, D.C. The White House explains, “TechHire is a bold multi-sector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills.”

PEF is cited in the Chattanooga community description:

The City of Chattanooga is serving as the backbone entity for Chattanooga’s TechHire partnership. In addition, the City has allocated funding through its FY15 budget specifically targeted towards technology workforce in line with TechHire goals. An IT Task Force made up of employers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Unum Group, The Lamp Post Group, EBP, and Erlanger Hospital will determine the skill-needs of employers, and training partners including Chattanooga State Technical Community College, A.I.R. Labs, Public Education Foundation, TN Code Academy/ Girls Who Code, and the Chattanooga Public Library 4th Floor will establish goals for recruiting and training diverse and nontraditional candidates to fill these important jobs.

Learn more in this article. PEF is proud to engage with local partners in this effort!


March 5, 2015

PEF in the news

1:1 Technology Helps Students Weather Snow Days

With the increased availability of electronic devices, snow days don’t have to mean missing out on valuable learning time. Red Bank High students in Mrs. Boran’s Honors Language class are keeping up thanks in part to support from PEF. In WDEF’s David Carroll’s report, “Mrs. Boran credited the Public Education Foundation and the Benwood Foundation for assisting the school in obtaining Chromebooks and iPads.”

Read the article online at

Suzy Anthony promoted

PEF is proud to announce the promotion of Suzy Anthony to Chief Financial Officer, the first in the organization’s history. For more on Suzy’s background and her new role, see the article at Congratulations, Suzy!

March 3, 2015

PEF’s Lauren Wade at Mad, Bad and Dangerous event

STEM Program Associate Lauren Wade worked with entrepreneurial high school girls last weekend at GPS’ Mad, Bad and Dangerous event. As part of the conference, PEF co-sponsored the 24Hour Launch: Girl Edition, where students worked around the clock to collaborate, form a solution, and then present those solutions to area businesses.

Lauren shared this great observation with Channel 3: “Adults have failed so many times that they’re scared to try something new and different and these girls haven’t so they’re not afraid,” said Wade. “I don’t think we ask students and teenagers for ideas nearly enough.” Lauren was also featured in a Times Free Press article.

PEF was proud to work with Co.Lab and GPS on this inspiring event!

February 18, 2015

Teacher Spotlight: Jill Blackmon

East Lake Elementary teacher Jill Blackmon was named a WDEF News 12 Golden Apple Award winner for starting an after-school ‪STEM program after she won a Junior League of Chattanooga Mini-Grant. Learn more about why Ms. Blackmon is a teacher in the clip below:

She’s also a former Project Inspire Tennessee clinical instructor for math & science teaching residents. East Lake Elementary won a $50,000 grant from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children last summer to purchase almost 200 Chromebooks for students, some of which you can see in the video. Congratulations to Ms. Blackmon – we’re inspired by the great STEM work happening at East Lake Elementary!

Learn more about the creative, problem-based, hands-on learning happening in our region from the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub.

January 28, 2015

World traveler and former PEF employee blogs (with refreshing honesty!) about the hard work of teachers

Tracey Carisch, former Managing Director of the STEM Innovation Hub at PEF, spent almost two years working in Southeast Tennessee to engage the community in the development of the STEM Hub and Hamilton County STEM high school. During her time at PEF, Tracey managed to motivate adults from all different backgrounds to work together to launch an entirely new concept in STEM education for Chattanooga. Tracey and her family left Chattanooga last summer for an around-the-world adventure. And one of the things she has learned, as she points out in the blog below, is that motivating adults and motivating kids are two completely different concepts.

Read her thoughts at

As we head into the second semester of the school year, let’s take a moment to give thanks and appreciate how hard teachers work every day to ensure our students love learning.


January 22, 2015

Investor Spotlight: Hacker & Kitty Caldwell

PEF is delighted to announce an investment of $50,000 in Passport Scholars from Hacker and Kitty Caldwell!

Ms. Caldwell is a PEF Board Member and explains, “Hacker and I support Passport Scholars because we want bright futures for our public school girls. The summer opportunities available through Passport Scholars build confidence in young women, and in turn, they set – and achieve – high goals for college and careers.” See photos of the 2015 Passport Scholars

Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President of College and Career Success, says, “Passport Scholars represents the incredible potential of Hamilton County high school students. The growth you see between the application interview and the fall showcase where girls share their experiences with the public is inspiring. It’s not surprising that 95% of Passport Scholars attend college!”

We deeply appreciate our investors and their support of PEF.

Read about our college success initiatives and see how your donation can make a difference in the lives of students.

2014 Passport Scholars

2014 Passport Scholars

January 14, 2015

1:1 technology in six schools impacting student learning

Did you know that PEF is partnering with the Benwood Foundation and HCDE to provide Chromebooks and iPads to over 1,400 students in six schools? It’s called the 1:1 technology initiative, because the goal is a ratio of one device for every person in the classroom.

Check out the new 1:1 section of our website with links to a recent evaluation from North Carolina State’s Friday Institute detailing how this initiative is positively impacting students and teachers.

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