Archive for the ‘Get Informed’ Category

PEF in the news

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

1:1 Technology Helps Students Weather Snow Days

With the increased availability of electronic devices, snow days don’t have to mean missing out on valuable learning time. Red Bank High students in Mrs. Boran’s Honors Language class are keeping up thanks in part to support from PEF. In WDEF’s David Carroll’s report, “Mrs. Boran credited the Public Education Foundation and the Benwood Foundation for assisting the school in obtaining Chromebooks and iPads.”

Read the article online at

Suzy Anthony promoted

PEF is proud to announce the promotion of Suzy Anthony to Chief Financial Officer, the first in the organization’s history. For more on Suzy’s background and her new role, see the article at Congratulations, Suzy!

Investor Spotlight: Hacker & Kitty Caldwell

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

PEF is delighted to announce an investment of $50,000 in Passport Scholars from Hacker and Kitty Caldwell!

Ms. Caldwell is a PEF Board Member and explains, “Hacker and I support Passport Scholars because we want bright futures for our public school girls. The summer opportunities available through Passport Scholars build confidence in young women, and in turn, they set – and achieve – high goals for college and careers.” See photos of the 2015 Passport Scholars

Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President of College and Career Success, says, “Passport Scholars represents the incredible potential of Hamilton County high school students. The growth you see between the application interview and the fall showcase where girls share their experiences with the public is inspiring. It’s not surprising that 95% of Passport Scholars attend college!”

We deeply appreciate our investors and their support of PEF.

Read about our college success initiatives and see how your donation can make a difference in the lives of students.

2014 Passport Scholars

2014 Passport Scholars

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

Mentors and proteges: a two-way street

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

If you’ve ever had a mentor- whether professionally or personally – you know the impact one can have. There are many different definitions of a mentor, but my favorite is, “A mentor is a trusted advisor. A mentor is someone who guides another to greater success.”  This definition speaks to me because it is rooted in the words “trust” and “guide.”  Inherent in this definition is the idea of a relationship between two people both working together for success through guidance, not judgment.

When we launched the Principal Leadership Academy (PLA) five years ago, we knew it needed a mentorship component.  Most educational leadership programs have educators mentoring other educators, an important piece of professional development. However, we knew we wanted to connect aspiring principals to leaders outside the world of education. After all, PLA is a partnership between the Hamilton County Department of Education, PEF, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and UTC, so the program should reflect  the strengths of each of these partners.  This led to the idea of having every participant in the PLA matched with a mentor from the business community.

When we started working with the Chamber to recruit business leaders, we all held the belief that these business leaders could help open up a new world to the aspiring principals. Maybe these corporate executives could offer advice on budgets. Maybe they had insight into best hiring practices. Maybe they could help aspiring principals gain a better understanding of the skills current employers demand.  And all of these things, and more, have happened.  But something else unexpected has happened as well. The business mentors were learning from their protégés.

Over the past five years, business mentors have spent entire school days shadowing their aspiring principals.  They have talked over coffee, lunches, and dinners about both the challenges and joys of running a school. Business mentors have received emails from their aspiring principals at 4 am – because that is when school administrators have time to log on and respond.

Rob Bradham, the Vice President for Public Strategies at the Chamber, and I recently received this email from Hodgen Mainda.  Hodgen is the Director of  Business Development and Provider Relations at MDP Management and a mentor to Rashaad Williams, Assistant Principal at Orchard Knob Middle School.

“So I shadowed my protégé Rashaad Williams today at Orchard Knob Middle! First and foremost, I am so glad I agreed to do this. Rashaad is awesome! I saw him in his element today and he is a great person in general but also great at his job. His passion for kids is amazing and the job that he and the staff and teachers have done is awesome. I can go on and on but I thoroughly enjoyed shadowing him today – I wasn’t his mentor today, he was my mentor and I was the protégé. It was an eye-opener and I learned a lot!!”

Think about that: “I wasn’t his mentor today, he was my mentor and I was the protégé.” Trust and guidance is a two-way street.  Through the business mentor component of the PLA, both aspiring principals and corporate leaders are working together to impact students in our public schools.  What a great way to show kids that the community cares about their success!

- Christa Payne, Vice President, External Affairs

PEF’s Stacy Lightfoot honored twice in one week!

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Congratulations to our Vice President of College & Career Success Stacy Lightfoot!

Dan and Stacy

Dan Challener and Stacy Lightfoot

The American Lung Association of Tennessee named Stacy a “Woman of Distinction” for 2015. The organization describes characteristics of their honorees: a woman who has “set herself apart through voluntary leadership or philanthropic activities in the Chattanooga area  and /or professional leadership and accomplishments in the business community. She has demonstrated qualities of integrity, dedication, motivation, and leadership in the community. She serves with honor and personal dedication to goal achievement.” See photos of the honoree reception in the Times Free Press. Stacy will be honored at a luncheon in April.

In the same week, Girls Inc. announced Stacy had been chosen as an “Unbought and Unbossed” honoree for 2015. According to Girls Inc., “Named for the phrase coined by Shirley Chisholm during her historic run for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, the UnBought and UnBossed Awards honor local women who through their career achievement and/or community involvement, have made a significant impact on the lives of women and girls. Community members submit nominations of women residing in Hamilton County, and the 10 honorees are chosen by 10 high school-aged girls participating in Girls Inc.’s Women History Project.” Learn more about Stacy’s nominee and the event in the spring.


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


Fund for Teachers grant workshops available

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Through a partnership with Fund for Teachers, PEF offers teachers in Hamilton and Bradley County fellowships to travel in the U.S. or across the globe in search of cultural enrichment, new teaching methods and fun and exciting ideas for the classroom. Applications are now available and must be completed by Thursday, January 29, 2015, 5:00 pm CST.

Take a look at these videos from our Fellows:

Interested in applying, but need some guidance and support? Attend a workshop!
Sessions will be led by former FFT Fellows who can give you first hand advice and insider info.  You will get lots of help with your application. If these aren’t convenient, try a Fund for Teachers webinar.

Chattanooga sessions (PEF, 100 E 10th Street, 3rd Floor): RSVP to

  • Thursday, November 13, 4:40-6 pm
  • Tuesday, December 2, 4:30-6 pm
  • January TBD, 4:30-6 pm  

Cleveland sessions (BCPEF’s STaR Center, 5005 N. Lee Hwy.): RSVP to

  • Tuesday, November 11, 4:30-6 pm
  • Thursday, December 4, 4:30-6 pm
  • January TBD, 4:30-6 pm

For more information, contact Leslie Graitcer, Fund for Teachers coordinator.

College Knowledge lunches resume; registration open

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

PEF is reaching out the community and businesses to provide important information on preparing for college & careers. One of the ways we’re doing this is by hosting, in partnership with businesses, the College Knowledge Lunch Breaks. Sessions run from noon to 1 p.m., providing a convenient time for parents, counselors, and other community members to quickly gain valuable knowledge they can share with young people in their lives.

The first “lunch and learn” will be Wednesday, September 24th at PEF on Resume Writing & Interviewing Skills. Larry Tong, Assistant Vice President of Benefits, and Shawnel Rogers, Director of Benefits, will be joining us from Unum to bring their unique employer perspectives.

As students complete their senior year in high school or college they’ve built a wealth of knowledge and skills.  An area that doesn’t get a lot of attention, until students seek employment, is fundamental resume writing and interviewing skills. We’ll discuss the resume and interview from the employer’s perspective during an interactive session:

1) What does an employer look for in a resume and interview?  A basic understanding will help students be strategic with their preparation and build their confidence.

2) Insight to be shared—do’s and don’ts in your resume / interview, cover letters, key business words, social media, elevator speech, professionalism, etc.

A buffet lunch is available for $5 or participants may bring their own lunch; sessions are FREE but online registration is requested.

Subsequent workshops will take place at businesses in the community. We are looking for businesses to provide space so that we bring in experts to talk about college & career related topics to its employees and the general public. For more information about hosting a College Knowledge Lunch Break, contact Janice Neal at 423.668.2423.

 – Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President, College & Career Success

Last day to help PEF win $5,000!

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Today is our last day to win $5,000 from First Tennessee Foundation! PEF needs your help NOW for our mission of improving student achievement in Hamilton County public schools.

Visit, search for “public education”, and vote for PEF (look for our logo). You DON’T have to register, get a password, or anything. Just search, click, and vote.

You can vote from ALL your devices ONCE a day: your phone, iPad, laptop, desktop, etc. each day, and all those votes will count. Please share this through your networks, social media, and help public schools by helping PEF!

- Shannon Edmondson, Development & Communications Officer


Save the date: Transforming Public Education Luncheon

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Please save the date for PEF’s Transforming Public Education Luncheon: a celebration of our 25th Anniversary and excellence in teaching, leading, and student achievement.

Wednesday, October 22
11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Chattanoogan Hotel Ballroom

Table and ticket sales will begin after Labor Day; visit our 25th Anniversary page for information as it becomes available.

Contact Shannon Edmondson (423.668.2430) for more information, including sponsorship opportunities.