October 3, 2016

Fund for Teachers now accepting applications

Fund for Teachers has opened applications for summer 2017 expeditions. All applications are completed online through the FFT site and are due by January 31, 2017.

Fund for Teachers provides educators, possessing a broad vision of what it means to teach and learn, 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.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements.

Full-time preK-12th grade teachers:


  • Spending at least 50% of their work week in direct classroom instruction
  • Returning to the classroom in the consecutive school year
  • Will have at least three years’ experience as a preK-12th grade teacher at the end of the school year


Individuals may apply for up to $5,000 and teams may apply for up to $10,000 (while team members may be from different schools, districts or states, all members must meet the eligibility criteria). Upon award, Fellows will receive 90 percent of their grant, the remaining 10 percent to be reimbursed upon completion of post-fellowship requirements.

Read a few blogs written by 2016 Fellows to get inspired, then start your application today!

September 27, 2016

Now hiring: Project Inspire communications and talent coordinator

Through a variety of programs and partnerships, PEF works to improve student achievement in Hamilton County public schools. The Project Inspire teacher residency is one such PEF program and partnership. Through a partnership with HCDE and Tennessee Tech University, Project Inspire recruits outstanding individuals who desire to provide equitable access to engaging, effective teaching for all students and then trains them through a rigorous process to become teachers for our county’s high-need schools.

At Project Inspire, we understand that the success of our program, and even the success of HCDE public schools, depends on being able to recruit talented individuals who have what it takes to become fantastic teachers and eventually, teacher leaders who are committed to our school district and the success of students. This role is critical to our program’s growth. You will be working closely with program staff and district partners to implement a communications strategy for the teacher residency program as well as assisting in the development of new pipelines for recruitment of individuals who may enter the teacher residency program.

Read the entire position description online. Interested candidates should send a resume and well-written, persuasive cover letter to by Friday, October 14.

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 share this opportunity with your networks.


August 22, 2016

iPLC helps educators amplify effect of technology

Since the late 1970’s education reformers have pointed to value of thriving professional learning communities. In the last three decades, educational researchers have thoroughly documented the critical role these collaborative groups play in implementing real change throughout a school and school system. In practice the idea is simple: identify individuals who have a shared interest and similar, yet different expertise, and develop a forum for them to share their insights so that the group as a whole can glean the unique value each individual offers.

With the emergence of personalized technologies and their increasingly common presence in classrooms over the last 5 to ten years, it has become clear that providing students and teachers with access to technology is only the first step in productive 21st century classrooms. As technology’s pervasive role in the classroom continues to evolve, teachers are desperate to stay up with best practices for leveraging its amazing capabilities. To support teachers in this pursuit, PEF, with support from the Community Foundation, started iPLC—a year-long cohort comprised of K-12 teachers from across Hamilton County strategically designed to identify, refine, and share innovative and effective uses of instructional technology. This year, based on feedback from previous cohorts and members of the community, we are excited to announce that we will be offering the iPLC experience along with a new option iPLC Genius—designed for our most tech-savvy teachers with a desire to lead and serve as a point of contact for others who are looking to develop their capacity to effectively leverage new technologies.

While many of our supporters have generously placed substantial investments in classroom technology in public schools across Hamilton County, we want to ensure that teachers have access to training on how to use those technologies for an improved student experience, and we hope to provide teachers an opportunity to share discoveries they have made along their journey. Hamilton County has some of the best teachers in the country. iPLC and iPLC Genius offer those teachers a chance to be heard and to help ensure that every student has access to a quality education.

— Michael Stone, STEM Director of Innovative Learning

August 8, 2016

STEP-UP students complete internships – see a video recap

Hamilton County high school students who worked at area businesses, nonprofits and organizations this summer as STEP-UP Chattanooga paid summer interns were honored on Friday during a luncheon at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, along with the companies who employed them and partners and funders that made this inaugural program possible.

Public Education Foundation and Hamilton County Department of Education launched STEP-UP Chattanooga in January, 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. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. committed $300,000 and Benwood Foundation contributed $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 recruited local high school students and provided work readiness training designed to help them be successful in interviews and professional settings. HCDE students were hired by area businesses, nonprofit agencies, and public institutions where they completed meaningful assignments this summer. Throughout the experience, students received support and feedback from STEP-UP staff and supervisors at their place of employment.

The following businesses, nonprofits and organizations committed to hire STEP-UP Chattanooga paid interns this summer:  2nds in Building Materials, Inc. (Southeastern Salvage, Home Emporium, Discount Building Materials), 3H Group Hotels, Application Researchers, ASA Engineering & Consulting, Inc., Bellhops, Benwood Foundation, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Blue Orleans, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Booker T. Washington State Park, Bridge Scholars of Chattanooga, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Chapter of The Links, Inc., Chattanooga Gas Company, Chattanooga Public Library, Chattanooga Lookouts, Chattanooga News Chronicle, Chattanooga State Community College, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga Zoo, Chattem, Inc., CHI Memorial, City of Chattanooga – Mayor’s Office, The Company Lab (CO.LAB), Creative Discovery Museum, Dipped Fresh, EPB of Chattanooga, greenspaces, Erlanger, Lamp Post Properties, Memorable Events, Motivate, Northside Neighborhood House, Parkridge Medical Center, Public Education Foundation, River City Company, SmartBank, SunTrust Bank, TechTown Foundation, Inc., Tennessee Aquarium, The Enterprise Center (Floor Five of The Edney) United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Vision Hospitality Group, Warren and Griffin Law Firm, and WRCB-TV.

The following students worked as STEP-UP Chattanooga paid summer interns:

  • Brainerd High – Kaila Carr, Micah Darden, Kentrell Evans, Charmichael Jefferson, Christian Sinclair
  • Center for Creative Arts – Miracle Evans, Miya Scruggs, Gweneth Wilson
  • Central High – Bethsahida Harrigan, Alyssa Rosenzweig, Tristan Ortiz
  • Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy – LaCara Bell, A’Keia Colley, Diamond Jones, Eriel Sales, Kayla Sales, Tyesha Smith
  • Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences – D’Ariaus Albert, Tariq Barnes, Edrius Cameron, J’darius Cameron, Emily Fisher, Stephen Graves, Katelyn Hampton, Alaysha Harden, Alma Justice, Alexander Laffew, Makayla Martin, Cade Murry, Tyjen Pulliam, Jaylah Radden, Jymon Scott
  • East Hamilton Middle High – Arielle Fortune, Taryn Robinson, Sarah Chacko, Makalah Smith,
  • East Ridge High – Makayla Johnson, Mia Luy, Shami Mosley, Ana Stanford
  • Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State – Olivia Miller, Emily Thomas
  • Hixson High – Ravontia Fuget, Kaitlyn Henson, Demontye Hudgins, Troy Williams
  • Howard School – Natasha Bell, Ardarius Walker
  • Lookout Valley Middle High – Van Nguyen, Lucas Wright
  • Ooltewah High – Jakeiry Morales, Mark Skrypkar
  • Red Bank High – Brittany Monford
  • Sale Creek Middle High – Katelyn Stewart
  • Sequoyah High – Solomon Jackson, Laney Lewis, Jonmontia Wickley
  • Signal Mountain Middle High – Abby Heinichen, Caroline Vanderhoof
  • Soddy Daisy High – Ashlyn Fowler, Alexis Jackson, Kayley Land, Delaney Mercer, Madison Mercer, Brittany O’Dell, Destiny O’Dell, Jacob Westmoreland
  • STEM School Chattanooga – Hunter Goodwin, Lake Miller, Patrick Swiecichowski
  • Tyner Academy – Joseph Fox, Andre Hicks, Malika Reviere

Research from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce indicates there are currently 15,000 jobs that cannot be filled by Hamilton County residents based on educational requirements. Additionally, the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that a major reason students fail to complete a two- or four-year college program is that “too many can’t see a clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market.”

Organizations hosting STEP-UP interns built 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 had opportunities to explore careers while developing work skills, as well as network with adult professionals who can help them achieve educational and professional goals.

STEP-UP Chattanooga is modeled after 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, visit

August 1, 2016

From the TFP: Pitch night showcases Hamilton County teachers’ entrepreneurial ideas

Read the Chattanooga Times Free Press article online and see a gallery of photos by Tim Barber

Learn more about all of this year’s Teacherpreneur projects at

by David Cobb

Kelsey Hunyh started her presentation at Sunday night’s Public Education Foundation Teacherpreneur pitch night by painting a picture of the bleak circumstances facing some of her students at East Side Elementary School.

Kelsey Hunyh pitch night

It worked.

“Imagine, you’re eating breakfast in the school cafeteria, you’re licking your bowl of oatmeal clean and you’re slurping your milk dry,” Hunyh said. “Your belly is still grumbling and your friend is throwing away his unopened milk and yogurt.

“All you want to do is grab that food, shove it in your backpack and take it home to your friends and family so they can eat it on the weekend.”

Hunyh said it’s a reality many of her students face each day: 25 percent of Hamilton County students have food insecurity and aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.

It’s why she is heading up the Helping Hands Ending Hunger initiative, which took top honors among 16 presentations made by Hamilton County teachers in front of a packed auditorium and a panel of judges at the Church on Main.

The night was a culmination of the annual Teacherpreneur incubator program that equips local teachers to develop business plans for educational initiatives that can help the county school system. Forty ideas were submitted, 16 were chosen as finalists and five teachers were awarded cash prizes, although all 16 ideas are still in position to receive funding through the program.

Helping Hands Ending Hunger is new to Hamilton County, but not to the area. Hunyh said during her presentation that Trion City Schools in Chattooga County, Ga., saved 12 tons of milk and food from going to waste in a single year.

The program collects unopened milk and food throughout the day at school to be saved and redistributed to students’ families at the end of the week.

“We’re hoping to be a pilot in order to start this program in other Hamilton County schools,” said Hunyh, who is entering her fifth year as a teacher in the system. “Just imagine if every school rescued milk and food and helped alleviate food insecurity in Chattanooga.”

School board Chairman Jonathan Welch said he hopes the program becomes a strong community partnership that begins to address some of the hunger issues facing children in the county.

The Helping Hands End Hunger initiative was one of several passionate presentations from teachers seeking backing for ideas that ranged from a program that helps student learn science through hip-hop music to a database for teachers to plan, research and review field trips.

It was the third year for the program, which is also sponsored by the Footprint Foundation, the Hamilton County Department of Education, the Benwood Foundation and CO.LAB.

“Who knows best what needs to happen? It’s people doing the job every single day,” PEF innovation and technology programs manager Geoff Millener said. “You can see from the few we were able to put on stage tonight the kind of innovative thinking that exists. Those ideas weren’t from one or two schools, they were from across Hamilton County.”

Contact staff writer David Cobb at or 423-757-6249.

July 30, 2016

Fund for Teachers fellows share their journeys

Our 2016 Fund for Teachers Fellows are finishing up their summer learning expeditions and preparing to go back to the classroom this week, energized and excited to share their experiences with their students.

Chris Raynolds of Signal Mountain Middle/High has recently returned from Japan. He chronicled his trip (including lots of great photos) at

Howard High School teachers Jessica Hubbuch and Sean Brown traveled to Costa Rica, Belize, and Guatemala to e explore tropical rainforests, plate tectonics, and Central American culture. They’ve written blogs at and are sharing gorgeous photos in a Google album.

A celebration and showcase of each educator’s summer experience will be held later in the fall. Congratulations to this year’s Fund for Teachers Fellows!


July 29, 2016

Pitch Night tickets available – register today

If you haven’t already registered to attend Pitch Night on Sunday, July 31 at 4 pm, there’s still time! Curious about Teacherpreneur? This video is for you:

Invite your friends through Facebook, share this post far and wide, and join us on Sunday evening. Pitch Night is a unique event that combine the entrepreneurial spirit of Chattanooga with the boundless optimism and creativity of our teachers.

Don’t forget that you can invest directly in this year’s projects with a gift through Causeway. Gifts of any amount are DOUBLED thanks to Footprint Foundation’s generosity.

July 18, 2016

Don’t miss this year’s Teacherpreneur Pitch Night

Come listen on July 31st as Hamilton County’s most innovative teachers pitch their big ideas for public education. Starting at 4pm Teacherpreneurs, having spent the previous 48 hours honing their projects, will pitch in front of a panel of judges and our startup community (that’s you!) at the Church on Main. Admission is free, and there will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar – with two drink tickets provided with each purchase of a VIP ticket for $25. Audience members will also be able to vote online, awarding a $500 prize to the crowd favorite.

Teacherpreneur 3.0 Pitch Night Flyer TKYqHbZOyMNDsC-cGz4U3OrY5245BxRBm2h3fLFd4YA cO_B-5G46W6tOb4OybOoy9Dq0FJWlvF7jOLHeFY4Fs4

Teacherpreneur is an event unlike any other. Come out and cheer on these fantastic educators as they take the stage! Space is limited, so register today.

July 5, 2016

Teacherpreneur Incubator crowdfunding campaign launches, runs through July 31

PEF has launched our first-ever crowdfunding campaign, and we need your help to reach our $5,000 goal. Give between now and July 31 to invest in the Teacherpreneur Incubator.

The teaching profession can be isolating, busy, and repetitive. The Teacherpreneur Incubator brings educators together with the community, gives them time, space, and support to develop big, innovative ideas for education, and keeps the job exciting and engaging by letting them explore new ways to enhance learning. We want the 2,000th day of teaching to be as exciting as the 2nd day of teaching. After two successful years, we’re ready for Teacherpreneur 3.0 to be the biggest yet. We need the support of a broader group of donors and public education advocates.

How does it work? Educators who are selected for the Incubator work all summer to develop their plans. Some are for-profit businesses, some are classroom projects, and others are community engagements and one-time events. From July 29-31, a 48-hour launch will give teachers access to professionals – lawyers, designers, programmers, and marketing professionals – to refine their ideas and pitches. On Pitch Night, each Teacherpreneur will present her idea to a live (and virtual through streaming!) audience. Pitches are judged by a community panel and winning ideas get up to $10,000. Other prizes and awards are given to help teachers bring their ideas to life.
By giving through our Causeway campaign, you’re investing in teachers, recognizing them as creative and dynamic professionals, and showing concrete financial support for public education. Thanks!

June 13, 2016

STEM Fellows Cohort 5 Announced

Congratulations to members of the fifth cohort of STEM Fellows!

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.  Over the course of the year, members of the cohort receive training and coaching on best practices in problem-based learning, inquiry teaching, cross-curriculum integration and technology integration.

2016-17 Participants

Taryn Painter, Apison
Kalah Newsome, Battle
Megan Leonard, Calvin Donaldson
Lauren Serio, CSLA
Sara Durst, East Lake
Colleen Ryan, Hardy
Arthur Williams, Lakeside Academy
Barbara Crosslin, Lookout Valley
Rachel Teas, Nolan
Margaret Hall, Red Bank
Christine Loveridge, Rivermont
Michelle Morgan, Parkview – Bradley County
Amanda Lann, Woodstation – Catoosa County
Karen Neal, Gilber t- Walker County
Angie Owens, Battlefield Primary – Catoosa County

Kara Semtner, Normal Park Upper
Krystal Bankston, Ooltewah
Rob Dodson, Signal Mountain
Madison Shaw (Lowry), Soddy Daisy
Michelle Collins, Soddy Daisy
Gretchen McDonald, Etowah City School
Lugenia Suttles, LaFayette Middle – Walker County

James Snyder, Central
Andrew Meador, CGLA
Japho Hardin, Howard
Jillian Simpson, Tyner
Jeff Scott, Red Bank
Rhonda Smith, Heritage – Blount County
Anna Spears, Cleveland High – Cleveland City Schools
Joy Samsel, Rhea County High – Rhea County

Working with leaders from business and post-secondary education, the fellows develop STEM lessons and projects for immediate implementation in the classroom. Exposure to innovative instructional strategies and classroom tools provides them with resources and ideas for their students and fellow colleagues.

STEM Fellows participate in a 3-day summer workshop and 4 full-day seminars during the school year.  Between meetings, the STEM Fellows can get coaching, ideas and supports from the program.

For more on the STEM Fellows program, contact Kate Skonberg.

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