December 15, 2014
PEF is proud to sponsor the upcoming College Goal Tennessee conference on Saturday, January 31 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the UTC University Center. Download a flyer
This free, half-day conference will help students and their supporters learn from experts and each other how students can be successful in college.
Sessions include financial planning for college, what employers are looking for, navigating the college application for the student athlete, and much more. Sessions will be led by business leaders, college admissions and financial aid experts—experts in their fields.
At this conference, College Goal Tennessee will provide free on-site assistance to for high school seniors and current college students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students are encouraged to complete this application to increase their chances of receiving financial support to attend college. Here’s a list of materials to bring in order to fill out the form.
To register for this free event, visit pefchattanooga.org/registerapply/
- Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President, College & Career Success
December 10, 2014
If you’ve ever had a mentor- whether professionally or personally – you know the impact one can have. There are many different definitions of a mentor, but my favorite is, “A mentor is a trusted advisor. A mentor is someone who guides another to greater success.” This definition speaks to me because it is rooted in the words “trust” and “guide.” Inherent in this definition is the idea of a relationship between two people both working together for success through guidance, not judgment.
When we launched the Principal Leadership Academy (PLA) five years ago, we knew it needed a mentorship component. Most educational leadership programs have educators mentoring other educators, an important piece of professional development. However, we knew we wanted to connect aspiring principals to leaders outside the world of education. After all, PLA is a partnership between the Hamilton County Department of Education, PEF, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and UTC, so the program should reflect the strengths of each of these partners. This led to the idea of having every participant in the PLA matched with a mentor from the business community.
When we started working with the Chamber to recruit business leaders, we all held the belief that these business leaders could help open up a new world to the aspiring principals. Maybe these corporate executives could offer advice on budgets. Maybe they had insight into best hiring practices. Maybe they could help aspiring principals gain a better understanding of the skills current employers demand. And all of these things, and more, have happened. But something else unexpected has happened as well. The business mentors were learning from their protégés.
Over the past five years, business mentors have spent entire school days shadowing their aspiring principals. They have talked over coffee, lunches, and dinners about both the challenges and joys of running a school. Business mentors have received emails from their aspiring principals at 4 am – because that is when school administrators have time to log on and respond.
Rob Bradham, the Vice President for Public Strategies at the Chamber, and I recently received this email from Hodgen Mainda. Hodgen is the Director of Business Development and Provider Relations at MDP Management and a mentor to Rashaad Williams, Assistant Principal at Orchard Knob Middle School.
“So I shadowed my protégé Rashaad Williams today at Orchard Knob Middle! First and foremost, I am so glad I agreed to do this. Rashaad is awesome! I saw him in his element today and he is a great person in general but also great at his job. His passion for kids is amazing and the job that he and the staff and teachers have done is awesome. I can go on and on but I thoroughly enjoyed shadowing him today – I wasn’t his mentor today, he was my mentor and I was the protégé. It was an eye-opener and I learned a lot!!”
Think about that: “I wasn’t his mentor today, he was my mentor and I was the protégé.” Trust and guidance is a two-way street. Through the business mentor component of the PLA, both aspiring principals and corporate leaders are working together to impact students in our public schools. What a great way to show kids that the community cares about their success!
- Christa Payne, Vice President, External Affairs
December 8, 2014
Congratulations to our Vice President of College & Career Success Stacy Lightfoot!
The American Lung Association of Tennessee named Stacy a “Woman of Distinction” for 2015. The organization describes characteristics of their honorees: a woman who has “set herself apart through voluntary leadership or philanthropic activities in the Chattanooga area and /or professional leadership and accomplishments in the business community. She has demonstrated qualities of integrity, dedication, motivation, and leadership in the community. She serves with honor and personal dedication to goal achievement.” See photos of the honoree reception in the Times Free Press. Stacy will be honored at a luncheon in April.
In the same week, Girls Inc. announced Stacy had been chosen as an “Unbought and Unbossed” honoree for 2015. According to Girls Inc., “Named for the phrase coined by Shirley Chisholm during her historic run for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, the UnBought and UnBossed Awards honor local women who through their career achievement and/or community involvement, have made a significant impact on the lives of women and girls. Community members submit nominations of women residing in Hamilton County, and the 10 honorees are chosen by 10 high school-aged girls participating in Girls Inc.’s Women History Project.” Learn more about Stacy’s nominee and the event in the spring.
December 3, 2014
Today, we’re surrounded by technology, yet very few of us understand how computers actually work. Simple computer science activities can help nurture creativity and problem solving skills. By getting a feel for computational thinking early, you can have a foundation for success in any future career path.
The Hour of Code initiative in Southeast Tennessee will demystify coding and get people of all ages coding through simple, easy-to-use tutorials. Schools and community organizations throughout our region can hold their own Hour of Code events for teachers, students and even parents. Opening the door to computer science means opening the door to learning, creativity and future careers.
Students should register for events at setnhourofcode.com
November 25, 2014
75 Jobs Will Change Chattanooga. The Principal Leadership Academy (PLA) is part of the PEF-HCDE Leadership Pipeline, a collaboration focused on preparing innovative, effective school leaders. Each month, the PLA meets for an entire day to learn from each other as well as experts in leadership.
Last week for their November session, the current PLA participants covered the important area of school law with D. Scott Bennett , the HCDE school attorney. Mr. Bennett has been the attorney with HCDE for almost 20 years. This 2½ hour session covered relevant topics such as personal liability, school fees, student discipline, search and seizures, due process and religion in public schools, and student speech. This interactive session is one example of how the PLA is helping to prepare HCDE’s future principals.
Following this informative session about school law, the PLA participants focused on the management and operations of schools with HCDE directors Karen Hollis, Gail Morgan and Steve Holmes and assistant superintendent Robert Sharpe. This session of the PLA is one example of how the Leadership Pipeline is helping prepare our future principals.
November 21, 2014
Recently, while leading a Friday morning seminar with Project Inspire’s fourth cohort of teacher-residents, I heard some valuable feedback. Recent classroom observations revealed that, during instruction, many of the residents were consistently glancing toward the clinical instructor (their mentor) for approval during the lesson. Of course, the students pick up on these subtle, nonverbal cues, and we were concerned about any perception of the resident as inferior. So, it was suggested that residents, when uncertain, let the students know that: “Just as you as students turn and talk to one another about your ideas, we as teachers sometimes do the same. We also learn by sharing by our ideas with one another.” Sounds simple enough, right? However, I would wager that students rarely observe such open-ended dialogue among teachers.
We need a revolution in how we as a society think about teaching; it should be elevated as a craft that our most compelling and creative thinkers yearn to practice. I believe that the re-branding of teaching starts in the classroom, where young students develop those lasting impressions of teaching. In order to help our students appreciate the complexity and beauty of teaching, we need to redefine students’ strong misconception that teachers must be perfectly polished distributors of smart-sounding information, and I would argue that teacher residency provides the means for redefining and elevating the profession.
Recently, Ronald Thorpe, president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, wrote an article that embraced residency as an opportunity to transform teacher preparation. Residency, he points out, has transformed the medical practice throughout the past century, by driving the following changes in practice:
Those of us who work in teacher residency strive to replace the word “doctor” in the sentences above with the word “teacher.” Project Inspire, Chattanooga’s urban math/science teacher residency, provides those with STEM majors and a passion for teaching access to the transformative opportunities that Thorpe is discussing. Project Inspire residents teach for a full year in a middle- or high-school setting alongside an experienced clinical instructor—grounding all learning from master’s level coursework within the context the classroom. Project Inspire residents and alumni are also working within the context of a team–whether collaborating with other residents at the training site, working alongside a content-specific coach as a program graduate, or joining their entire cohort for regular resident and alumni seminars. Finally, program graduates are consistently “paying it forward,” improving their own craft by opening up their classroom to current residents and their fellow teachers.
The retention of great teachers in the classrooms where they are needed begins with the preparation of those teachers. Project Inspire offers its residents and graduates an open invitation to dream, to be a real and meaningful part of the transformation of a school. We as teachers sometimes need to turn and talk; we can keep our brightest minds in this profession by allowing them to see the craft for the pure and collaborative wonder that it is.
If you are interested in joining Project Inspire as a math or science teacher-resident, please visit projectinspiretn.org. Candidates and interested community members are also encouraged to attend the next Project Inspire MeetUp on November 25 at 5:00 pm at PEF, 100 E. 10th Street, 3rd floor. Please contact Erin Harrell for more information.
- Mark Neal, Director, Project Inspire
November 19, 2014
Mayor Andy Berke poses with the Boys Leadership Summit organizers Temus Terry, Chris Ramsey, and Stacy Lightfoot.
The 5th Annual Boys’ Leadership Summit (BLS) was held on November 15, 2014. BLS targeted males in grades 6-12 and served as an opportunity for males to learn with and from each other. Keynote presenters included community leaders as well as a young man who has attended all BLS summits. Breakout sessions included warm-up icebreakers where the co facilitators (college men and seasoned men) created atmospheres for open dialogue and in-depth discussions on how to become successful and productive adults. The Summit was designed to help attendees learn to cope with issues and problems facing youth today.
The young men – almost 200! – were pleased with how the day went: comments included, “I loved everything,” “I plan on attending yearly,” and “I found the togetherness most valuable.”
PEF was proud to be a partner in this effort!
- Janice Neal, Program Associate, College & Career Success
November 11, 2014
Through a partnership with Fund for Teachers, PEF offers teachers in Hamilton and Bradley County fellowships to travel in the U.S. or across the globe in search of cultural enrichment, new teaching methods and fun and exciting ideas for the classroom. Applications are now available and must be completed by Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5:00 pm CST.
Take a look at these videos from our Fellows:
Interested in applying, but need some guidance and support? Attend a workshop!
Sessions will be led by former FFT Fellows who can give you first hand advice and insider info. You will get lots of help with your application. If these aren’t convenient, try a Fund for Teachers webinar.
Chattanooga sessions (PEF, 100 E 10th Street, 3rd Floor): RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleveland sessions (BCPEF’s STaR Center, 5005 N. Lee Hwy.): RSVP to email@example.com
For more information, contact Leslie Graitcer, Fund for Teachers coordinator.
November 5, 2014
In 2010, a group of men from various organizations (e.g. fraternities, 100 Black Men, Shriners, Masons, service organizations, etc.), with an interest in helping young African-American males become successful and productive adults, hosted the first Boys’ Leadership Summit (BLS) in October 2010. These men answered a charge by Michael Baisden, an international radio personality, who encouraged communities to join together to impact the lives of our young black men.
Based on Dr. Shaun Harper’s report titled “Black Male Student Success in Higher Education” he found that Black men’s dismal college enrollments, disengagement and underachievement, and low rates of baccalaureate degree completion are among the most pressing and complex issues in American higher education. So, in 2012, PEF worked on several initiatives to empower men of color, young and old, to convene at luncheons and conferences to share their stories of triumph and collegiate success.
This year, PEF is joining forces with the founders and organizers of the Boys’ Leadership Summit to host a collaborative workshop for young men that will target males in grades 6-12 and include college males as well. Together, these organizations hope to provoke conversations that will engage, empower and encourage our young men to achieve to greater heights. We will have special sessions geared towards parents during the summit. Unique opportunities are in store for engaged parents.
The 5th Annual Boys Leadership Summit 2014 is a free one-day conference (breakfast & lunch provided) held on November 15, 2014 (9 am – 2 pm), that will serve as an opportunity for middle and high school males and their parents as well as young men in college to learn from experts and each other how to become successful and productive adults. We will cover topics to help attendees learn to cope with issues and problems facing youth today. Registration and breakfast will start at 8:00 am. The summit will be held at UT-Chattanooga’s University Center.
The first 50 people who register online AND attend the summit will have their names placed in a bowl to win an awesome gift at the end of the day.
For more information, contact Temus Terry — (423) 316-0698
October 13, 2014
For the past four years, Project Inspire has worked to recruit, train, and support excellent math and science teachers for Hamilton County schools. In August, a new cohort of teacher residents entered Dalewood Middle School, Tyner Middle Academy, and Tyner Academy, eager to begin their first year of residency. Side-by-side with their clinical instructors (veteran teachers of Hamilton County), the residents will dive into curriculum, instruction, and relationships with students. The staff of PEF and Project Inspire will continue to support these residents as well as graduates throughout the year.
However, an additional task is fresh on our minds. It’s time to recruit the next incoming cohort of teacher residents who share Project Inspire’s passion for equity and excellence in the Hamilton County public schools. This year, Project Inspire has received funding from a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In the past, the program has been able to recruit teachers with a variety of undergraduate degrees, so long as they had sufficient math or science coursework. This year, however, the NSF grant provides an exciting opportunity for those who hold a degree in the STEM field—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Project Inspire is part of a national recruiting effort to recruit, train, and support STEM teachers. This connection positions Chattanooga nationally next to other large organizations who are devoting efforts to answer the nationwide shortage of quality math and science teachers. Locally, Project Inspire hopes to encourage recent STEM graduates as well as professionals. Through the teacher residency and ongoing professional support through Project Inspire, PEF, and Hamilton County Department of Education, the goal is to create a new story about teaching in low-performing schools—elevating the profession and giving teachers the opportunity to be entrepreneurs in their own classrooms.
On October 23, Project Inspire invites candidates to the first meet-up of the year at the Lamp Post Group for those who want to start a dialogue about teacher residency. The ideal candidate for the program is someone who is passionate about innovation, teaching, and is compelled towards social change. Candidates should hold a STEM degree or be pursuing one currently. While in many parts of the country teacher residency is aimed at recruiting undergraduates, Project Inspire is also an opportunity for career changers to gain a teaching license and masters in curriculum and instruction in a short amount of time. No matter if the candidate will be fresh out of college or is thinking about making a career change, the most important candidate quality is a compelling vision and passion to provide students in Hamilton County with the best science and math teachers possible.
- Erin Harrell, Project Inspire Program Associate