Archive for the ‘Community Events’ Category

Summer STEM PD opportunities

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

PEF and Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub are offering free professional development opportunities for all regional public school educators. All sessions are free, but require online registration.

3D Printing Series

The 3D printing series will provide attendees with an overview of using a Makerbot 3D printer.  The workshop will also include practical classroom applications for easy implementation.  Resources will also be provided for future 3D printing needs.  The STEM Hub has several Makerbots available to check out for use in the classroom.

  • 3D Printing for SCIENCE: June 14 from 9am-12pm
  • 3D Printing for MATH: June 14 from 1-4pm
  • 3D Printing for HUMANITIES: June 16 from 9am-12pm


The Robotics in the Classroom Series prepares educators to integrate robotics in their classroom including LittleBits, Cubelets, Sphero, Ollie, and MOSS.  Broken into grade level workshops, participants will learn about the highlights of the robotics available to check out through the STEM Hub. The workshop will also include practical classroom applications.

  • Robotics for HIGH SCHOOL: June 16 from 1-4pm
  • Robotics for ELEMENTARY: June 29 from 9am-12pm
  • Robotics for MIDDLE: June 29 from 1-4pm

The 3D printing and robotics sessions are sponsored by the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. The STEM Hub also maintains a calendar of summer learning opportunities in our area.

Questions or want to share your summer PD event? Contact Kate Skonberg by email or call 423.648.4444

Alumnae invited: Passport Scholars Reunion

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

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


Dialogues on Public Education documentary screening Feb 4

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

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.

Fund for Teachers grant info session Dec 10

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

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.

Hamilton Sings! Teacherpreneur event Nov. 10

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Charlene Cook (East Ridge Elementary) and colleague Claire Stockman (Red Bank Elementary) are the Teacherpreneurs behind Hamilton Sings!, a county-wide concert on Tuesday, November 10 featuring over 100 5th grade music students.

PEF’s Geoff Millener and Ms. Cook recently spoke to WDEF’s Joe Legge about the event:

Students will come together from all over our community for a day of rehearsal, with the experience culminating in a concert highlighting their talents, hard work and the arts. There will be a special performance by the Sweet Adelines, Chattanooga’s female barbershop singers. The public is encouraged to attend and donations will be accepted to support Hamilton Sings!

Hamilton Sings!
All-County Elementary Honor Choir
Tuesday, November 10  7:00 pm
First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave. (see a map)

Hamilton Sings! is a music learning and performance opportunity featuring students of Hamilton County Elementary Schools. This annual experience will provide a unique environment in which students will develop skills culminating in a dynamic musical performance. Participants will network with students from all Hamilton County elementary schools to create a community in harmony. Hamilton Sings! ignites the creative and artistic spirit that thrives in the Chattanooga area today in our youngest citizens.

Join PEF during Startup Week

Monday, October 12th, 2015

PEF is hosting two events during Startup Week, and you’re invited! We think there’s a lot education can learn from the entrepreneurial spirit that has infused our community – and just as much Chattanooga’s entrepreneurs and startups can learn from our educators.

This Tuesday, October 13th from 5-6pm, we’re hosting a Teacherpreneur Showcase, highlighting the incubator and the innovative spirit of Hamilton County teachers. Featuring the debut of our Teacherpreneur film and a talk from PEF’s VP of Learning, Keri Randolph, you’ll have a chance to meet and mingle with our Teacherpreneurs! Join us at the Edney Innovation Building (16 11th St.), in the new community space on the 5th Floor. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

On Thursday, October 15th from 4.30-6pm, we’ve partnered with our friends at Mozilla for Entrepreneurship + Education: Chattanooga’s Next Big Thing? Featuring lightning talks from our own Keri Randolph, Daniel Ryan (founder of DRyan), Benwood’s Lori Quillen, Kara Gahagen of LAUNCH, Principal of the STEM School Tony Donen and Teacherpreneurs Lindsey Hagan and Patricia Russell, we’ll be having a frank and inclusive conversation about entrepreneurship and education in the Gig City. We’ll again be on the 5th floor of the Edney Building, in the heart of Chattanooga’s new Innovation District. (And light hors d’oeuvres will also be served.)

We hope you’ll be able to join us for our events – and be sure to check out the full schedule for more exciting events, from keynote speakers to evening socials, during Startup Week.

– PEF Teacherpreneur Team

See how schools are harnessing the Gig

Monday, May 4th, 2015

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.

Register now for College Goal Tennessee

Monday, December 15th, 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

PEF is partnering with UTC, YoungandWiser Inc, SACAC (Southern Association for College Admission Counseling) & College Goal Sunday to present this event.

– Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President, College & Career Success

Computer Science Education Week begins Dec. 8

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

From PEF’s partner, STEM Innovation Hub:

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.

Get Involved

Students should register for events at


“We turn and talk to each other, too!”

Friday, November 21st, 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:

  1. Residency helps doctors to situate their specialty within the full context of the profession, something that can only happen in a teaching hospital.
  2. Residents enter these experiences as teams, and they remain in teams, which helps doctors to develop the essential habits of mind that their work can only be done in collaboration with others.
  3. After completing their first year of residency, all residents take on the role of teaching the residents who are coming after them, which helps to strengthen one’s content knowledge and craft.

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 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