Archive for the ‘Get Informed’ Category

PEF staff members visit Seattle education fund, residency program

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Just as teachers and principals need to hone their skills and learn from one another, PEF staff members are committed to ongoing professional development. In July, Erin Harrell, Assistant Director of Project Inspire, and Shannon Edmondson, Development & Communications Officer, traveled to Seattle to visit the Alliance for Education and Seattle Teacher Residency. PEF and the Alliance are strikingly similar in organizational size, both work with similarly sized partner school districts, and both have teacher residency programs – we are truly sister organizations.

Erin wanted to understand STR’s strategies for successfully recruiting a high percentage of minority candidates for residency, in order to reflect the diversity of the students in Seattle Public Schools. She also wanted to learn to how maximize a small staff to do more and work more intentionally and efficiently. Shannon was interested in Seattle’s fundraising events, successful ways to keep donors engaged, and marketing strategies for a teacher residency housed within an education fund.

After Erin and Shannon returned to Chattanooga, they reflected on the visit.

What was most valuable about the site visit to Seattle?

Erin: This trip encouraged me that even with a small staff we can maximize our time and efforts to do the most important work for sustaining an effective teacher residency program and training effective teachers. I also left with a sense of hope for our high-need students in Chattanooga and Seattle public schools! Both in Seattle and Chattanooga there is a strong caliber of the teacher residents — their commitment to students, to excellent teaching, and to equitable education for all students.

Shannon: It’s always helpful to step away from your daily work and reflect on what your organization does well and what it can do better. I really enjoyed talking with Sara Morris (President and CEO) about the challenges education funds face in terms of public relations, fundraising, and administration. Seattle does a great job with fundraising events, which is something we’re just now beginning to explore. PEF has a great social media presence, and we were able to share that success story.

How do Chattanooga and Seattle’s teacher residencies compare?

ErinSTR is exclusively focused on training elementary and special education teachers, while Project Inspire is focused on training secondary math and science teachers. The residencies are similar in the scope and approach to clinical work– all residents are trained with an effective mentor teacher over a fourteen month program in an urban school while completing graduate coursework. Some residencies work more within charter schools, but Project Inspire and Seattle Teacher Residency are similar in that we focus on training the most effective teachers for our specific districts and maintain close relationships with the public school systems.

How will you use what you learned?

Erin: I left Seattle with some new perspectives for our recruitment strategy. This visit came at a perfect time as I am starting to recruit the 2016-2017 cohort of teacher residents. My daily role with the residency is grounded in operations, so I also came away with some ideas on how to tighten up what we do and maximize our small staff.

Shannon: I came home with lots of fresh ideas for sharing our successes and keeping investors updated throughout the year. We have a great annual report, but the Alliance for Education has some excellent ways to share updates on programs on an ongoing basis. I’m looking forward to stealing those ideas and customizing them for our donors.

From both: The staff of Alliance for Education and Seattle Teacher Residency were gracious and incredibly knowledgeable hosts, and we deeply appreciate the opportunity to visit and learn from them!

Dan Challener joins third class of Leadership Tennessee

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

PEF President Dan Challener was recently selected to participate in the 2015-2016 class of Leadership Tennessee, a leadership education program designed to cultivate a network of business, nonprofit, education and government leaders who are committed to addressing the state’s challenges and opportunities. The 10-month program provides collaborative learning and dialogue spanning the state’s three grand divisions, issue-specific education for demonstrated leaders, a diverse representation of participants and opportunities to affect change. It will meet several times as a group in addition to participating in other activities, research and projects throughout the year.

The upcoming class includes 34 business, government, education and nonprofit leaders from across Tennessee, including fellow Chattanoogans Charlie Brock, CEO, Launch Tennessee, Bill Kilbride, president and CEO, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Rep. Gerald McCormick, majority leader, Tennessee House of Representatives.

“Leadership Tennessee is designed for top leaders across the state to learn from different perspectives, but also to understand the collaborative nature of conversation and action that will continue to move our state ahead,” said Cathy Cate, executive director of Leadership Tennessee and director of community leadership programs for the Andrews Institute. “In the first two years of the program we have seen how relationships developed and strengthened among our participants and have led to collaborations and more informed decision making that benefits all Tennesseans.”

Read more in an article from Lipscomb University

Congratulations to Dan on this honor!

HCDE releases Citizens’ Budget Guide

Monday, June 8th, 2015

From Hamilton County Department of Education –


The Citizens’ Budget Guide provides an overview of Hamilton County Department of Education’s budget for the past year (FY15). This guide is intended to provide residents with basic budget information in an easy‐to‐read format. It includes information on revenues, expenditures, the budgeting process and how funding has changed over time. This is the first edition of a budget guide for HCDE, but we expect to publish a guide to correlate with each year’s budget going forward. The guide is available in print and on our website at

As a large, diverse school district, HCDE’s budget is very complex. However, it is very important for stakeholders – parents, students, elected leaders and taxpayers – to understand how public education is funded and how those funds are spent in Hamilton County. It is our hope that this guide will contribute to the ongoing informed dialogue in our community about funding priorities and goals around public education.

The Budget Guide was put together under the leadership of HCDE’s Finance Department. In addition, we received input from an advisory group that included:

  • Andrew Kean, former President of Tennessee Stillhouse
  • Warren McEwan, CPA & Partner, Mauldin & Jenkins
  • Karitsa Moseley, School Board Member
  • Christa Payne, PEF
  • Lori Quillen, Benwood Foundation

The layout and design of the guide was provided by Widgets & Stone.

We view this Budget Guide as a positive step in increasing accountability to the public. It is a work in progress and we look forward to feedback from stakeholders on how it could be improved for next year’s budget!

Questions, comments, or feedback? Contact HCDE Finance Director Christie Jordan at 209‐8686.


Stacy Lightfoot to testify before Senate committee on May 6; video available

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

PEF Vice President of College & Career Success Stacy Lightfoot will travel to Washington on Wednesday, May 6 to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in a hearing titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: The Role of Consumer Information in College Choice.”

The HELP committee will have live coverage on their website beginning at 10:00 am Eastern and video will be archived there as well.

From the National College Access Network:

Ms. Lightfoot knows the importance of education. As an African American female, she grew up in a low-income, single parent home. Statistics suggested that she would continue to live in poverty, work a low-wage job and not obtain a college degree. However, her mother made sure that throughout her life she was surrounded by trusted adults and positive role models. Her college counselor helped her research DePauw University in the cornfields of Greencastle, IN. It was the perfect college for Ms. Lightfoot because it matched her personality and learning style in addition to be meeting her family’s financial need.

Using her personal experience, and the examples of two students – one who graduated from college and one who has debt and no degree – Ms. Lightfoot will suggest to Congress what information and type of guidance first-generation and low-income students need to successfully complete a college degree.

For more on Stacy’s work to empower students to achieve their dreams, visit the College & Career Success section of our website. We are so proud to work with Stacy!

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.

Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children grants awarded

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

PEF was delighted to share the news that two schools – East Side Elementary in Hamilton County and Blythe-Bower Elementary in Cleveland – were awarded grants from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children totaling $100,000! This week, educators from East Side joined PEF’s Shannon Edmondson to speak with local news channels about how their grant will be used to improve the lives of young people.

Stacey Hooper, Read 180 teacher and Nina Johnson, literacy coach, talked about the lab with Julie Edwards on “3 Plus You.”


East Side Assistant Principal Dr. Greg Wilkey spoke with WDEF’s Joe Legge on “This Morning” about the Read 180 lab.

Principal Stephanie Hinton will talk with Brian Smith on WTVC’s “This N That” next Tuesday at 12:30 pm.

Celebrations will be held at both schools in the fall when students return – we’ll post coverage on our website as it is available.

PLA graduate unites student leaders from Baylor & Brainerd

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Students from Baylor School and Brainerd High may seem to be worlds apart. But Dr. Charles Mitchell, assistant principal at Brainerd High, believed leadership could bring them together to find common ground and destroy misconceptions.

Dr. Mitchell is a member of the current Principal Leadership Academy cohort and developed the program in collaboration with his executive business mentor Steve Zabel, Senior Vice President at Unum, during his year-long PLA experience.

WRCB Channel 3’s David Carroll highlighted the program recently; watch the video below to learn more. | Chattanooga News, Weather

Teacherpreneur Incubator update

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Back in August, PEF’s Teacherpreneur 48Hour Launch engaged the community with innovative, out-of-the-box thinking from teachers across Hamilton County. So, how have things been going this school year? STEM Program Associate Lauren Wade made the rounds of local media with some of our incredible educators this week. As Lauren explained on Channel 9, leadership doesn’t always mean moving into school administration.


Dan Basel at Ganns Middle Valley shared his All-Star Assessments program with WTVC Channel 9 – it’s an app to help teachers track scores and then give feedback to students and parents.

Hear from Lindsey Hagan and Patricia Russell of Bess T. Shepherd Elementary on WDEF Channel 12 about their Leadership Think Tank, a way to help students build 21st century skills like collaboration, leadership, and team work.   Chris Morris wasn’t funded at the Launch, but that didn’t stop him. He spoke with WRCB Channel 3 about how his Morrissey Awards are changing the culture at East Ridge High by recognizing growth in a student’s character.


We proud to work with these and other educators every day to transform classrooms across our community. To learn more about the Incubator and see a short video about the initiative, visit our Teacherpreneur page.

Suzy Anthony promoted to CFO

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Congratulations to our colleague Suzy M. Anthony, who was recently promoted to Chief Financial Officer – the first in PEF’s history. Read about Suzy’s background and what she’ll be doing to help PEF grow and build on 25 years of innovative, effective work to improve public education.

Jim Hill, Chair of the PEF Board, says it best: “Suzy’s dedication to her work helps PEF pursue our mission efficiently, steward our grants and contributions properly, and help promote an organizational culture of innovation. She is a tremendous asset to PEF.”



PEF proud to partner in TechHire initiative

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

PEF is excited to be a part of the White House’s national “TechHire” initiative which launched yesterday in Washington, D.C. The White House explains, “TechHire is a bold multi-sector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills.”

PEF is cited in the Chattanooga community description:

The City of Chattanooga is serving as the backbone entity for Chattanooga’s TechHire partnership. In addition, the City has allocated funding through its FY15 budget specifically targeted towards technology workforce in line with TechHire goals. An IT Task Force made up of employers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Unum Group, The Lamp Post Group, EBP, and Erlanger Hospital will determine the skill-needs of employers, and training partners including Chattanooga State Technical Community College, A.I.R. Labs, Public Education Foundation, TN Code Academy/ Girls Who Code, and the Chattanooga Public Library 4th Floor will establish goals for recruiting and training diverse and nontraditional candidates to fill these important jobs.

Learn more in this article. PEF is proud to engage with local partners in this effort!