May 5, 2016

2016 – 17 Leadership Fellows Cohort 18 Announced

We are proud to welcome the eighteenth class of leadership fellows. These fellows were chosen through a strict selection process by a committee that included an elementary principal, a secondary principal, a HCDE Director, a PEF Director and a business leader.

LF18 Cohort

  • Adrienne Alford – East Lake Elem./Lakeside Academy
  • Caleb Bagby – Red Bank High
  • Carrie Bishop – Hixson Middle
  • Valorie Bowers – East Brainerd Elementary
  • Ty Campbell – Ooltewah Middle/Barger/HCDE
  • Melanie Covert – Ganns Middle Valley Elementary
  • Kristina Culberson – Brown Middle
  • Samantha Eaton – Red Bank Elementary
  • Michael Franks – East Hamilton M/H
  • Charhonda Gardner – East Lake Academy
  • Whitney Grant – Barger Academy
  • April Gregorcich – East Lake Elementary
  • Sherry Johnston – Nolan Elementary
  • Rickey Jones – Woodmore Elementary
  • Cindy Kean – Battle Academy/ Donaldson Elementary
  • Sissy Markum – HCDE
  • Belinda Martin – Signal Mountain M/H
  • Yang Mathews – Signal Mountain M/H
  • David Moore – Brainerd High
  • Heidi Moses – Ooltewah High
  • Giselle Palmer – Barger Academy
  • Alecia Pappas – Ooltewah Elementary
  • Sarah Payne – Daisy/Ooltewah/Smith Elementary
  • Lindsay Prater – Hamilton County High
  • Eve Robles – East Ridge Middle
  • Claire Stockman – Red Bank Elementary
  • Tonya Taylor – Bess T. Shepherd Elementary
  • LeAnn Welch – Sale Creek M/H
  • Sara Whitener – Ooltewah Elementary
  • Colby Williams – East Hamilton M/H

Leadership Fellows is a partnership between PEF and the Hamilton County Department of Education.

– Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator

April 28, 2016

2016 – 17 Principal Leadership Academy Cohort 7 announced

We are proud to welcome the seventh class of aspiring principals to the Principal Leadership Academy!

PLA7 Cohort

  • Talley Caldwell – Woodmore Elementary
  • Karyn Cox – Hunter Middle
  • Tiffany Earvin – East Ridge High
  • Steve Lewis – Central High
  • Dawn Lim – Tyner Academy
  • Kristy Newson – Spring Creek Elementary
  • Ruthie Panni – Westview Elementary
  • Jeff Paulson – Thrasher Elementary
  • Matthew Thurman – Normal Park Upper


Congratulations to our sixth cohort of Principal Leadership Academy graduates


  • Nikki Bailey – East Lake Elementary
  • Brenda Cothran – Ooltewah Elementary
  • Jacqueline Cothran – Brainerd High
  • Mary Catherine Gatlin – Signal Mountain M/H
  • Arielle Hayes – Orchard Knob Middle
  • Steve Henry – Soddy Daisy High
  • Travis Miller – Tyner Middle
  • Lindsay Starnes – Donaldson Elementary
  • Matthew Taylor – Howard High
  • Jeana Turner – East Ridge Elementary

The Principal Leadership Academy is a partnership between PEF, Hamilton County Department of Education, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

April 20, 2016

Opportunities for teacher leadership

Two opportunities for teacher leadership development are currently available through PEF. Please share these with your networks!

STEM Fellows 5.0

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. 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. The program includes a three-day summer workshop, four full-day workshops during the school year, a job shadow, project, and a $500 stipend in addition to other support. Applications are online and are due April 22. Questions? Contact Kate Skonberg.

Teacherpreneur 3.0

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. The Incubator brings together teachers, business people, and community members to launch transformative ideas. Modeled after Co.Lab’s 48HR Launch, the Teacherpreneur Incubator’s 48HR Launch Weekend  is designed to connect public school teachers with the resources they need by developing compelling, short pitches for a panel of judges. Even if a project doesn’t receive funding, support and mentoring will continue to ensure that innovative projects can transform our schools. Learn more and develop a proposal during a meetup, then apply online by May 23. Contact Geoff Millener for more information.

April 12, 2016

Lakeside Academy, Taylor Elementary Schools Awarded Prestigious Annenberg Grants

Public Education Foundation (PEF) is pleased to announce two grants totaling nearly $100,000 from The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children to Lakeside Academy of Math, Science & Technology in Hamilton County and Taylor Elementary School in Bradley County. Lakeside will create STEM labs to enable students to experience hands-on learning and become creative problem solvers, as well as purchase books for the library and classrooms. Taylor Elementary will provide laptops for all fourth- and fifth-grade students, including mobile hotspots for at-home use so students can conduct research and communicate with people around the globe.

This is the seventh year of a collaborative effort between PEF and The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children resulting in significant financial support to 12 area schools. PEF’s collaboration with Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation has enabled the two organizations to multiply the impact of regional educational initiatives for the benefit of students in Southeast Tennessee.

Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of The Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship, and School Funds, said, “Since 2010, the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children has partnered with PEF to provide underserved schools with essential resources. While the term ‘value added’ is too often used in the absence of both context and definition, Leonore Annenberg’s grants to public elementary schools are sure to make a clear case for improved teaching and learning.”

“Leonore Annenberg was committed to improving the lives of children, particularly those who, with support, will become leaders of the next generation,” says PEF president Dan Challener. “These grants certainly underscore the heart of her mission to provide students resources to help them shine brightly. We are so pleased to announce this year’s awards to Lakeside Academy and Taylor Elementary. The public will be invited to celebrations at each school in the fall to experience how these grants are making a difference for students.”

In 1997, the late philanthropist Walter Annenberg made a special opportunity grant to Chattanooga as part of his national call to arms in support of American public education. That support, which recognized the merger of city schools with the surrounding Hamilton County system, helped to create PEF’s Leadership Initiative. Several years later, additional support was designated for a strategic communications plan and mission-focused public relations work. The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children grants build upon this legacy of partnership.

In total, The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children has given $950,000 to schools in southeast Tennessee as part of their $6.4 million in grants nationally to public elementary schools that serve a high concentration of children from families living in poverty. Previous local grants have funded diverse projects including a reading lab, multi-media facility, art studio, media center, classroom technology, playground improvements, science lab, classroom book nooks, Chromebooks, and a student leadership program.

About the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children

The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, provides educational resources of immediate and direct value to schools serving children with great need. Visit

April 6, 2016

2016 Fund for Teachers Fellows announced

For the fifth 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, administered locally through a partnership with PEF.

“Fund for Teachers fellowships get to the heart of one of our strategic goals at PEF: to develop and advance highly effective teaching so that all students learn in classes that are engaging, relevant, and rigorous,” stated Dan Challener, PEF President. “We know that when teachers return to their classrooms, their Fund for Teachers experiences help them create rich learning opportunities for our students.”

Fund for Teachers allotted $71,300 in grant awards for Hamilton County public school teachers this year. Teachers could apply for up to $5,000 as an individual or $10,000 as a team. Eighteen grant recipients (or Fellows) from eleven schools will visit 15 countries across four continents this summer. The 2016 cohort includes:

Cara Stiles of Sale Creek Middle/High who will explore Iceland with a National Geographic team to pique student interest in global warming, geothermal energy, and space travel;

Jessica Hubbuch and Sean Brown of The Howard School who are environmental science teachers who will trek through Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala to explore tropical rainforests, plate tectonics, aquatic diversity as well as Central American culture and the Spanish language;

Christopher Raynolds of Signal Mountain Middle/High plans to investigate the historical and cultural effects on Japan resulting from scientific innovation during World War II, to provide deeper perspective and context for history and science classes;

Sarah Lane of Woodmore Elementary and Zena Hanner-Buckley of Lakeside Academy will unlock students’ imaginations as a result of a quest to study the origins of fairy tales in France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, and England;

John Echols, Elizabeth Bullard, and Melanie Collins of Center for Creative Arts will attend the Boothbay Literacy Retreat in Maine in order to develop collaborative strategies and knowledge that will transform literacy teaching and school culture across 6th, 7th and 8th grade classrooms;

Michele Pesce of East Ridge Elementary and Reanee Jackson of Ivy Academy will attend several Spanish language/cultural immersion programs in the US and in Central America in order to learn and evaluate different language acquisition strategies, then employ those with the greatest potential to raise academic achievement;

Stevie Davis of East Ridge Elementary and Veronica McCuiston of North Hamilton County Elementary will research and observe endangered North American red wolves in several habitats of the Southeast US and use this information to create wolf-study activity boxes and lesson plans available to all Hamilton County teachers;

Latanya Mason, Mary Avans, and Daniel Silva of Barger Academy of Fine Arts will visit locales in Ecuador and Peru (including Machu Picchu and the Galapagos) to study landforms, wildlife, and indigenous peoples, then use findings and videos for environmental & cultural student projects; and,

Kathryn Russell and Amanda Colvin of East Hamilton Middle/High will travel to Poland and Israel to gain insight into the experiences of Holocaust victims, bystanders and perpetrators, and to see how the lessons of the Holocaust are being applied to improve the modern world.

In partnership with PEF, Fund for Teachers has provided more than $450,000 in grants to 121 Hamilton County teachers over the last five years.

March 10, 2016

See what Samuel L. Jackson has to say about public education in Chattanooga

There aren’t any current DonorsChoose projects in Chattanooga that need funding – but we have a way you can help.

Donate through PEF and your gift will support teachers and schools across Hamilton County. Our programs align with our key values:

Leadership matters most for improving our schools

All students deserve support to help them be successful as citizens, employees, and problem-solvers

The most powerful force in boosting student achievement is an empowered, creative teacher

All of our programs are focused on one goal: improving student achievement so all students succeed in learning and in life.

Make a gift today, and see a return on your investment in the years to come. Thank you!

March 7, 2016

Principal Leadership Academy February Session – Human Resources/Human Capital Leadership

The Principal Leadership Academy February Session focused on human resources/capital. The day started with reading a chapter regarding Todd Whitaker’s thoughts on hiring new teachers from his book “What Great Principals Do Differently.”


The day continued with a session by HCDE’s Stacy Stewart – Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources. Her session covered employee discipline, due process for tenured and non-tenured teachers, documentation formats, etc. Feedback from a participant – “Stacy Stewart’s information was timely and very informative as always.”


Stacy was followed in the afternoon by Eileen Rehberg of United Way, Director of Building Stable Lives & 2-1-1 who presented Neighborhood-Based Family Information with great data and maps.IMG_7629

The day ended with presentation from David Carroll, news anchor at WRCB-TV 3 on Connecting to the Media. Topics included nuts and bolts of the news, cultivating the media, media contacts, etc.

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

– Chitra Chandrasekaran, Leading & Learning Coordinator

March 3, 2016

Passport Scholars encouraged to attend 15 Year celebration

Former Passport Scholars participants are invited to attend a celebration of 15 years of empowering young women of promise in Hamilton County. A reunion weekend is planned at Sewanee: The University of the South on  July 16-17, 2016 – alumnae are encouraged to complete a short save-the-date form. Formal invitations will follow.

Thanks to the generosity of Passport Scholars founder Kitty Caldwell, accommodations and meals will be provided for Scholars, their partners and children throughout the weekend. Events include a family picnic and formal dinner on Saturday, as well as Sunday brunch. Enjoy the beautiful Sewanee campus while reconnecting with other Scholars, mentors, and program staff.

Due to limited space, this event is open to former Passport Scholars (not currently in high school), their spouses/partners and child[ren]. For questions, contact Stacy Lightfoot at 423-648-4443 or


February 12, 2016

Principal Leadership Academy Cohort 7 applications are due March 10, 2016

The Principal Leadership Academy is a year-long program of preparation in education and business leadership skills for aspiring Hamilton County school principals. The curriculum utilizes a combination of educational leadership learning sessions, hands-on training, research projects, and mentoring by experienced business executives. More than 60 Hamilton County principals, directors and assistant principals have participated in the Principal Leadership Academy program. Application process is now open. For more details –

Mike Group Pic

February 12, 2016

Leadership Fellows Cohort 18 applications are due March 10, 2016

The year-long, twenty-day Leadership Fellows program is designed to give emerging school leaders in Hamilton County the skills and knowledge needed to participate in decision-making, instructional leadership, change management, and school improvement. Serving around 30 educators per year, the program involves monthly workshops, job shadowing, school visits, mentoring, study groups, leadership projects, presentations and a portfolio. Almost 500 Hamilton County principals, directors and teachers have participated in the PEF Leadership Fellows program since it began in 1998. Applications are available through HCDE principals and directors. For more details –

LF Group August 2015

Page 1 of 17