May 6, 2015

Teacherpreneur application deadline extended

There’s still time to submit your innovative idea – the deadline for Teacherpreneur applications has been extended to May 15.

Last year’s Teacherpreneur Incubator launched entrepreneurial ideas in education all across our district. This year’s Incubator (dubbed 2.0) can be even better. The Teacherpreneur Incubator offers teachers support, time and space to incubate big ideas and execute them in the best interests of their students and their profession. Apply online today!

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May 5, 2015

Stacy Lightfoot to testify before Senate committee on May 6; video available

PEF Vice President of College & Career Success Stacy Lightfoot will travel to Washington on Wednesday, May 6 to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in a hearing titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: The Role of Consumer Information in College Choice.”

The HELP committee will have live coverage on their website beginning at 10:00 am Eastern and video will be archived there as well.

From the National College Access Network:

Ms. Lightfoot knows the importance of education. As an African American female, she grew up in a low-income, single parent home. Statistics suggested that she would continue to live in poverty, work a low-wage job and not obtain a college degree. However, her mother made sure that throughout her life she was surrounded by trusted adults and positive role models. Her college counselor helped her research DePauw University in the cornfields of Greencastle, IN. It was the perfect college for Ms. Lightfoot because it matched her personality and learning style in addition to be meeting her family’s financial need.

Using her personal experience, and the examples of two students – one who graduated from college and one who has debt and no degree – Ms. Lightfoot will suggest to Congress what information and type of guidance first-generation and low-income students need to successfully complete a college degree.

For more on Stacy’s work to empower students to achieve their dreams, visit the College & Career Success section of our website. We are so proud to work with Stacy!

May 4, 2015

See how schools are harnessing the Gig

The National Science Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to Public Education Foundation and University of Southern California (USC) to support the first-ever project to leverage the power of Gigabit connectivity for K-12 education.  With USC scientists, students at STEM School Chattanooga designed experiments to utilize the world’s first 4K video microscope to study the effects of human activity on microbial ecosystems here at home in Chattanooga, as well as a continent away in the Pacific Ocean. See a preview of this amazing collaboration in a short video.

We hope to see you at the demonstration next week – please RSVP so we can accommodate all guests.

April 20, 2015

Two opportunities for teacher leadership

Students may be winding down this school year, but opportunities for teachers to be empowered, engaged, and energized are heating up.

Last year’s Teacherpreneur Incubator launched entrepreneurial ideas in education all across our district. This year’s Incubator (dubbed 2.0) can be even better! PEF will hold meetings during the coming weeks to share information about the Incubator and allow educators interested in participating to share ideas and collaborate. It is recommended that you attend at least one meetup, but you are welcome to attend as many as you like. The next meetups are scheduled for Thursday, April 23; Tuesday, April 28; Monday, May 4. Online registration is required.

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If you want to learn cutting edge ways to engage students through problem-based learning, inquiry teaching, cross-curriculum integration and technology integration, STEM Fellow applications are now open for the 2015-16 school year. The STEM Teaching Fellows program is an annual cohort of Southeast Tennessee educators from across the region who engage in a year of professional development activities focused on STEM best practices. These teachers become STEM leaders for their schools and districts.


Questions about either of these programs? Contact Keri Randolph (423.668.2426).

April 16, 2015

Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children grants awarded

PEF was delighted to share the news that two schools – East Side Elementary in Hamilton County and Blythe-Bower Elementary in Cleveland – were awarded grants from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children totaling $100,000! This week, educators from East Side joined PEF’s Shannon Edmondson to speak with local news channels about how their grant will be used to improve the lives of young people.

Stacey Hooper, Read 180 teacher and Nina Johnson, literacy coach, talked about the lab with Julie Edwards on “3 Plus You.”


East Side Assistant Principal Dr. Greg Wilkey spoke with WDEF’s Joe Legge on “This Morning” about the Read 180 lab.

Principal Stephanie Hinton will talk with Brian Smith on WTVC’s “This N That” next Tuesday at 12:30 pm.

Celebrations will be held at both schools in the fall when students return – we’ll post coverage on our website as it is available.

April 6, 2015

PEF announces 2015 Fund for Teachers Fellows

For the fourth year in a row, Hamilton County public school teachers have earned grants for summer learning experiences across the globe so they can come back and share what they learned with their students. The grants are made possible by the national nonprofit Fund for Teachers in partnership with PEF.

“Because we believe that teachers know best what will make them better, each year teachers are invited to design summer learning experiences that will have the greatest impact on their students, school and community,” says Leslie Graitcer, PEF’s Fund for Teachers Director. “Our goal is to empower teachers to be learners again so that they can return to the classroom with renewed energy and creative ideas that spur powerful student learning.”

Fund for Teachers allotted $85,000 in grant money for Hamilton County public school teachers this year. Teachers could apply for $5,000 as an individual or $10,000 as a team. Fellows from 10 schools will visit 11 countries across four continents. For more, visit PEF’s Fund for Teachers page.

22 HCDE teachers have been awarded 2015 Fund for Teachers grants:

Susan Morrison, Kirsten Legac, and Julie Smith of East Hamilton Middle-High will travel to Vietnam to capture perspectives on the past and current needs and hopes of this developing country, thus broadening students’ global understandings.

James Carpenter of Ooltewah High will conduct an educator’s tour of London, Paris, and Rome to gain exposure to those cultures and cities and better inform AP history students about the art, architecture and events that shaped our past.

Kristen Burrus and Janie Fossett of Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences will visit San Francisco to explore the geology, engineering and architecture of the cities’ earthquake proof buildings to develop a cross-curricular, multi-grade student exhibit involving middle school science, high school geometry, and ACE Mentor Program students.

James David and Michael Stone of STEM School Chattanooga will delve into China’s STEM fields with a focus on a FabLab in Shanghai, the 2015 RoboCup in Hefei, an animation studio in Beijing, and historical engineering feats like the Great Wall of China and modern bullet trains, to inform STEM education classes and broaden student awareness of STEM achievements.

Stacy Hill of STEM School Chattanooga will analyze the educational systems of Nepal, India, Singapore and China to discover and bring back new ideas and teaching methods for socially, economically and culturally diverse student populations.

Margaret Hudgins of Center for Creative Arts will experience London’s theater scene then participate in an actor training workshop led by internationally-renowned Keith Johnstone to enhance classes for students in all arts disciplines.

Michelle Collins and Tracy Renfro of Soddy Daisy Middle will explore ancient artifacts and artistic techniques across Greece and Italy to connect World History classes with creative opportunities in the arts and enhance project-based instruction.

Thais Campbell and Kelli Solock of Ooltewah Middle will explore Alaska’s coastal wilderness and inland cultures to gain knowledge about local environmental concerns and create research materials that inform students’ nonfiction texts and informational writing pieces.

Emeri Gordon of Hixson Middle and Monica Gordon of Brown Middle will conduct field research at ancient and modern structures in Athens and Rome to facilitate students’ synthesis of how ancient cultures, geography and technologies affect the present and future.

Anthony Henderson of Soddy Daisy Middle will travel to Ireland to participate in the Joe Moody Summer School of traditional Irish music, song and dance, then observe Dublin’s Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan Irish music and dance competition and visit the National Museum of Ireland to research and demonstrate for students the connections between Irish and American music and culture.

Laura Ellis, Sharon DeVaney, Julie Thomas, Lauren Fisher, and Cynthia Connor of Apison Elementary will experience through on-site teaching the culture, language and practices of a Guatemalan partner school, to bring back tools that facilitate student empathy and foster student collaborations with this partner school and others in the global community.

Cleveland and Bradley County teachers also won awards:

Lisa Eulo of Walker Valley High and Carol Dale of Cleveland High will conduct a site visit with a partner school in Burghausen, Germany, to collect research that prepares students for future exchange visits promoting global citizenry and collaboration.

Athena Davis of Cleveland High will participate in Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies’ three-week seminar on Teaching the Shoah and Antisemitism to increase personal knowledge of the Holocaust and personalize the study of the topic for Holocaust Literature students.

Stacey Wielfaert of Walker Valley High will retrace Hemingway’s experiences in France and Spain, then enroll in a Paris-based workshop for high school writing teachers, to demonstrate for students the connections between the environment, historical moments and the act of writing during one of the most productive periods in American literary history.

About Fund for Teachers
Fund for Teachers, which is based in Houston, TX, has invested more than $20 million in 5,500 teacher grants since 2001. Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the world that impact their practice, their students and their schools. For more information, visit

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!


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