Archive for the ‘Get Informed’ Category

Now hiring: Project Inspire communications and talent coordinator

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

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.


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

Monday, August 1st, 2016

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.

Pitch Night tickets available – register today

Friday, July 29th, 2016

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.

Teacherpreneur Incubator crowdfunding campaign launches, runs through July 31

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

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!

Lakeside Academy, Taylor Elementary Schools Awarded Prestigious Annenberg Grants

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

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

2016 Fund for Teachers Fellows announced

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

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.

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

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

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

  • Today is the deadline for the next cohort of Leadership Fellows, a program that for 17 years has trained over 450 teachers in our district.
  • It’s also the deadline for Principal Leadership Academy, where the next generation of school leaders learn from experts in town and across the country.

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

  • At the heart of our work are students, and this year we’ve launched STEP-UP Chattanooga to connect them with area businesses for paid internships over the summer.
  • Want programs that help over 95% of participants apply to, be accepted, and attend college? Camp College and Passport Scholars do that year after year.

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!

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.

Chattanooga 2.0 launches

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Chattanooga 2.0, a community-wide effort for academic excellence in Hamilton County, launched a 100-day initiative to develop practical, hands-on action plans to provide quality education for all students in Hamilton County and connect them to jobs that pay a living wage. “2.0 is not just an issue of geography or ability; it’s an issue of support and expectation,” said Jared Bigham, project director for 2.0. “The report is out. The conversation has started. But the work has just begun.” Bigham said, “The 100 days is the start and not the end of achieving academic excellence for everyone in Hamilton County. This work will be generational, but there will be short-term wins such as the Manufacturing Excellence Program and Step-Up Chattanooga that show the community is willing to act now.”

Addressing Chattanooga Rotarians, he said, over the next 100 days, “we have the opportunity to create a path forward that will bring 8,000 adults out of poverty. We can do that by achieving the goal of 75 percent of our residents obtaining a post-secondary credential.”

According to the 2.0 report, Hamilton County is experiencing job growth, but 83 percent of those jobs that provide a livable wage require a postsecondary credential. Currently, only about 40 percent of residents have the education necessary to gain one of these positions and benefit from the improving local economy. “Our community is one of the best places to live,” said Bigham. Great things are happening here, but there is a difference in having opportunities and our high school graduates being in a position to benefit from those opportunities. The community challenge is to come together, set education improvement as a priority, and support our local talent in obtaining a good job.

The community outreach is underway, Bigham said. “We are in the process of bringing together educators, faith-based leaders, teachers, volunteers, professionals and students to start creating four work groups. Each team will focus on researching and developing bold strategies that emphasize innovation, as well as probably taking us a little out of our comfort zone,” he said. The initial work groups are early childhood, K-12, postsecondary and workforce, and faith-based outreach.

Bigham said. “Each work group has a charge to be creative, bold and set objectives that are aspirational. They will be looking at successful programs in other communities, things that may never have been tried, and asking what will work. We’re looking at anything and everything that can make a difference and change lives and outcomes for Hamilton County students,” he said.

Some of the primary areas of focus within 2.0 where measurable outcomes can be defined are: school readiness, third grade literacy, career exploration in middle school post-secondary readiness, post-secondary completion and workforce readiness.

Try an Hour of Code Dec 7-13

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Heard of coding, but still intimidated? Curious but not sure where to start? Next week is your chance to jump in and learn.

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

PEF’s Geoff Millener leads an initiative called Dev Dev (Developing Developers) which, in partnership with the Hamilton County Department of Education, brings schools, companies and organizations together to help promote technology and digital literacy. Geoff explains, “We want more young people to not only use technology effectively, but also understand how applications and web tools are developed. The Hour of Code is a great introduction to the opportunities out there for students interested in programming.”

Several area schools are participating, including Clifton Hills, Bess T. Shepherd, and Battle Academy. Geoff was joined by Clifton Hills media specialist and Teacherpreneur Cristol Kapp on WDEF’s “This Morning” to share more about the importance of coding skills and digital literacy.

For more on local Hour of Code experiences, email Geoff Millener.