February 5, 2016

Teacher Policy Fellows seeks engaged education leaders for first cohort

Policy Fellows LogoEducator voice is so often overlooked in developing public – particularly educational – policy. Our teachers are trusted leaders and experts in their field, and extremely qualified to advocate for and inform the policies which affect our schools and community.

PEF is partnering with the Benwood Foundation to develop an 18-month Teacher Policy Fellowship to support these leaders in driving change from the inside, out, as well as elevating teacher voice and the teaching profession.The first cohort of 15-20 educators will begin in April of 2016, meeting monthly through October 2017. In addition to professional development and a one-of-a-kind experience, teachers will also receive a $1,000 stipend.

Applications are due by March 1, 2016.

Teacher Policy fellows will delve into local, state and federal policies that affect students in Hamilton County. They will learn from educational and community leaders, working together as a cohort in advocating for policies supporting their students. The scope of Teacher Policy Fellows will expand beyond that of other such fellowships by exploring issues outside of schools, such as poverty, crime and other social issues which directly affect students and families in Hamilton County.

From visiting the county jail to writing an op-ed, Teacher Policy Fellows seeks to provide teachers with a truly unique experience. Part graduate seminar and part Leadership Chattanooga, the cohort will meet monthly to learn about policies and our community, to develop the skills necessary for effective advocacy and to take action in changing Chattanooga for the better.

For more information, contact Geoff Millener (423.648.4448).

February 2, 2016

Principal Leadership Academy January Session – Human Resources with Dr. Mike Rutherford


The Principal Leadership Academy January Session focused on human resources. Our consultant, Dr. Mike Rutherford (, led the session titled “Turning Teaching Talent into Student Achievement.” Mike introduced the “Developing the Artisan Teacher” curriculum with 23 Themes of Teaching Talent and utilizing 7 tools for Developing Teachers and Teaching. The PLA aspiring principals learned and practiced Craft Conversations, the purpose/rationale, intended effect, when to and when not to give non-evaluative feedbacks.

Mike Group Pic

– Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator

January 28, 2016

Dialogues on Public Education documentary screening Feb 4

Local documentarian Robert Ashton Winslow will premier first drafts from a special documentary series posing questions for Chattanooga’s future during special events in early 2016. After collecting interviews with community leaders during 2015, these events are open invitations for community members to help direct the next part of the documentary process. Southern Dialogues in Chattanooga seeks to elevate civic dialogue by opening up questions for public conversation in an experimental documentary process. Live Dialogues events will include screenings, interactive storyboards, informational resources, moderated discussion, and video confessionals.

PEF, UnifiEd, and Hamilton County Department of Education are partnering to screen Dialogues on Public Education on Thursday, February 4 beginning at 6 pm on Floor 5 of the Edney Innovation Center, 1100 Market Street. Details are available on Facebook.

The other themes of the documentary series include Building the Innovation Economy, Housing and Real Estate Development, Thrive 2055 and Regional Economic Development. At each screening event, invitations will be extended for community organizations to co-host more Dialogues events on a continuing basis in order to bring as many voices from the community into the project as possible.

As community institutions and public-private leadership rally for bold vision to tackle big challenges, these documentaries seek to elevate civic dialogue and serve as a resource for ongoing public engagement. All documentary content developed through the program will be ultimately uploaded as an interactive library of conversational video content for public benefit.

Southern Dialogues in Chattanooga is a no-budget creative project solely produced by Robert Ashton Winslow. The program in Chattanooga is now raising funds to engage local media-makers to assist the documentary production process.

Southern Dialogues is an independent documentary webseries by Chattanooga-native Robert Ashton Winslow using ordinary conversation to explore themes in civic life and the changing South. Past documentary topics have included the the growth of the film industry in Louisiana, the 2015 Civil Rights anniversaries in Alabama, the industrial footprint in Alabama as a window into the new American
manufacturing economy, and political advertising during the 2014 Kentucky Senate election.

Southern Dialogues in Chattanooga program during 2015 and 2016 has been hosted on the 4th Floor of the Downtown Public Library.
Visit for more.

January 21, 2016

Chattanooga 2.0 launches

Chattanooga 2.0, a community-wide effort for academic excellence in Hamilton County, launched a 100-day initiative to develop practical, hands-on action plans to provide quality education for all students in Hamilton County and connect them to jobs that pay a living wage. “2.0 is not just an issue of geography or ability; it’s an issue of support and expectation,” said Jared Bigham, project director for 2.0. “The report is out. The conversation has started. But the work has just begun.” Bigham said, “The 100 days is the start and not the end of achieving academic excellence for everyone in Hamilton County. This work will be generational, but there will be short-term wins such as the Manufacturing Excellence Program and Step-Up Chattanooga that show the community is willing to act now.”

Addressing Chattanooga Rotarians, he said, over the next 100 days, “we have the opportunity to create a path forward that will bring 8,000 adults out of poverty. We can do that by achieving the goal of 75 percent of our residents obtaining a post-secondary credential.”

According to the 2.0 report, Hamilton County is experiencing job growth, but 83 percent of those jobs that provide a livable wage require a postsecondary credential. Currently, only about 40 percent of residents have the education necessary to gain one of these positions and benefit from the improving local economy. “Our community is one of the best places to live,” said Bigham. Great things are happening here, but there is a difference in having opportunities and our high school graduates being in a position to benefit from those opportunities. The community challenge is to come together, set education improvement as a priority, and support our local talent in obtaining a good job.

The community outreach is underway, Bigham said. “We are in the process of bringing together educators, faith-based leaders, teachers, volunteers, professionals and students to start creating four work groups. Each team will focus on researching and developing bold strategies that emphasize innovation, as well as probably taking us a little out of our comfort zone,” he said. The initial work groups are early childhood, K-12, postsecondary and workforce, and faith-based outreach.

Bigham said. “Each work group has a charge to be creative, bold and set objectives that are aspirational. They will be looking at successful programs in other communities, things that may never have been tried, and asking what will work. We’re looking at anything and everything that can make a difference and change lives and outcomes for Hamilton County students,” he said.

Some of the primary areas of focus within 2.0 where measurable outcomes can be defined are: school readiness, third grade literacy, career exploration in middle school post-secondary readiness, post-secondary completion and workforce readiness.

January 6, 2016

STEP-UP program begins; students invited to apply

In collaboration with partners and funders, Public Education Foundation (PEF) today announced the launch of STEP-UP Chattanooga, a robust internship program for high school juniors and seniors in Hamilton County public schools designed to address the challenges faced by both businesses and students in a complex, changing global economy.

Read an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. has committed $300,000 and Benwood Foundation is contributing $200,000 for the first two years of the program which serves underrepresented students from low-income backgrounds, those most at risk for joblessness and lack of higher education.

STEP-UP Chattanooga will recruit local high school students and provide work readiness training designed to help them be successful in interviews and professional settings. Subsequently, 75 students will be hired by area businesses, nonprofit agencies, and public institutions where they will complete meaningful assignments over the summer of 2016. Throughout the experience, students will receive support and feedback from STEP-UP staff and supervisors at their place of employment.

Organizations hosting STEP-UP interns will build relationships with a pool of talented, diverse future employees while filling job vacancies and demonstrating a commitment to improving the lives of at-risk youth. Students will have opportunities to explore careers while developing work skills, as well as to network with adult professionals who can help them achieve educational and professional goals.

STEP-UP Chattanooga is modeled on the nationally-recognized STEP-UP Minneapolis program, which has served over 20,000 students since 2004. 96% of STEP-UP Minneapolis supervisors reported that interns made a valuable contribution to the workplace and the program was a success at their companies.

STEP-UP Chattanooga complements PEF’s other College Access & Success initiatives, including Camp College, Passport Scholars, support for Hamilton County’s College Access & Career Advisers, and community education.

For more information on applying for internships or becoming a business partner, visit

December 15, 2015

Leadership Fellows December Session

The topic for today’s Leadership Fellows was self-assessment and assessment strategies. The day started with the assessment to sort individuals and the group into four colors – Gold, Orange, Blue, and Green. The activities included Brightening Your Colors, Color Me, True Colors Leadership Styles, True Colors Learning Styles. It was followed by Myers PIGS personality profiles.


The fellows also read the leadership perspectives of North Carolina Basketball Coach and the San Francisco Symphony Director. The afternoon was concentrated on assessment practices using HCDE grading practices. The activities included Effective and Ineffective Grading Practices, Assessment Strategies and they reviewed Assessment of learning, Assessment for learning, and Assessment as learning. The day concluded with sharing several articles on assessment.

Leadership Fellows is year-long program that is designed to give emerging school leaders the skills and knowledge needed to participate in decision-making, instructional leadership, change management, and school improvement.

Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator

December 15, 2015

Principal Leadership Academy December Session – Financial Leadership



Principal Leadership Academy December Session started with a Holiday breakfast with aspiring principals and their mentors. The morning was also focused on hearing about Chattanooga 2.0 from Bill Kilbride – Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Dan Challener – Public Education Foundation and Rick Smith – Hamilton County Department of Education. It was an exciting and powerful conversation with the business CEO’s for the great opportunity for our city.

Principal Panel

After the breakfast the session focused on Financial Leadership. The day started with HCDE principal panel’s insight on their school finances. The topic ranged from school budget to prioritizing and managing day to day finances.  As always these conversations are well received by our aspiring principals.

Christie 1

The afternoon continued with two hour session with HCDE’s Christie Jordan, Assistant Superintendent of Finance. The topics ranged from financial responsibilities of school principal, use of restricted and general funds, creating a budget, to fundraisers and donations.

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

Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator

December 8, 2015

Fund for Teachers grant info session Dec 10

Are you thinking about applying for a Fund for Teachers grant, but are still apprehensive? Have a great idea but a dozen questions about how to do so? RSVP online for Thursday’s Fund for Teachers information session at PEF. FFT Coordinator Leslie Graitcer will lead an interactive session on how to apply online, explain the timeline and grant process, and answer questions about the Fellowships.

Thursday, December 10
5:00 – 7:00 pm
PEF Leadership Center – 3rd Floor
100 East 10th Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402
RSVP here

Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the world that make the greatest impact on their practice, students and school communities. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has awarded 6,300 teachers $23.5 million in grants to visit 141 countries on all seven continents.

PEF is proud to be the local partner for Hamilton County Department of Education applicants. Fund for Teachers has awarded more than $379,000 to 104 Hamilton County teachers since 2012. For more on Fund for Teachers, email Leslie Graitcer or call 423-648-4446.

December 3, 2015

Try an Hour of Code Dec 7-13

Heard of coding, but still intimidated? Curious but not sure where to start? Next week is your chance to jump in and learn.

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

PEF’s Geoff Millener leads an initiative called Dev Dev (Developing Developers) which, in partnership with the Hamilton County Department of Education, brings schools, companies and organizations together to help promote technology and digital literacy. Geoff explains, “We want more young people to not only use technology effectively, but also understand how applications and web tools are developed. The Hour of Code is a great introduction to the opportunities out there for students interested in programming.”

Several area schools are participating, including Clifton Hills, Bess T. Shepherd, and Battle Academy. Geoff was joined by Clifton Hills media specialist and Teacherpreneur Cristol Kapp on WDEF’s “This Morning” to share more about the importance of coding skills and digital literacy.

For more on local Hour of Code experiences, email Geoff Millener.

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.

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