Archive for the ‘Get Informed’ Category

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.

The Learning Lab: 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math results

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Reprinted from

The National Assessment of Education Progress is nicknamed the “Nation’s Report Card” because it provides a snapshot of where learners are, countrywide, on mathematics and reading (among other subjects) knowledge and skills. We’ve written about NAEP before, because in grades four and eight, Tennessee enjoyed great gains from 2011 to 2013 in reading and mathematics.

Where are we?
Just a couple of weeks ago, the results of the grade 12 reading and mathematics 2013 exams were released. Unlike the grade four and eight exams, not every state participated in the grade 12 testing. In fact, Tennessee was one of 12 other states. The following tables summarize how we did:

2013 NAEP grade 12 mathematics: Average scale score

State Average scale score
out of 300
Massachusetts 161.1 1
New Hampshire 160.6 2
Connecticut 160.3 3
South Dakota 159.5 4
New Jersey 159.3 5
Iowa 155.9 6
Idaho 155.5 7
Michigan 154.0 8
Illinois 153.9 9
National 152.0 -
Arkansas 149.7 10
Florida 148.6 11
Tennessee 144.9 12
*West Virginia 144.6 13

* Not significantly different from Tennessee’s average scale score.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress 2013 mathematics and reading assessments.

Tennessee’s average scale score in mathematics was 144.9 out of a possible 300, putting us at No. 12 of 13 states, though we are, statistically, tied with West Virginia because their score was not significantly different from ours. The national score was 152 (based on a representative sample, not just the 13 participating states), and Massachusetts ranked No. 1 at 161.1. You can access a more comprehensive summary of Tennessee’s mathematics performance on the NAEP website.

2013 NAEP grade 12 reading: Average scale score

State Average scale score
out of 500
Connecticut 298.8 1
New Hampshire 294.9 2
Massachusetts 292.8 3
Idaho 292.5 4
South Dakota 291.9 5
New Jersey 291.8 6
Iowa 291.0 7
Illinois 289.2 8
Michigan 288.2 9
National 287.0 -
*Florida 285.8 10
*Arkansas 284.6 11
Tennessee 282.4 12
*West Virginia 280.2 13

* Not significantly different from Tennessee’s average scale score.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2013 mathematics and reading assessments.

Tennessee’s average scale score in reading was 282.4 out of a possible 500, putting us at No. 12 of 13 states, though we are, statistically, tied with West Virginia, Arkansas and Florida because their scores were not significantly different from ours. The national score was 287, and Connecticut ranked No. 1 at 298.8. You can access a more comprehensive summary of Tennessee’s reading performance on the NAEP website.

So what?
This is the first year Tennessee’s grade 12 students participated in the NAEP exams, so 2013 is our “baseline” year. Still, it would be nice to be closer to or on the other side of the national score in both subjects. Although our tables display average scale scores, NAEP also talks in terms of proficiency, and Tennessee—along with Arkansas, West Virginia and Florida—had fewer students at or above proficient than did the nation in mathematics. Similarly, Tennessee’s proficiency percentages in reading were lower than the national percentage, along with Arkansas and West Virginia. John Q. Easton, the National Center for Education Statistics’ acting commissioner, released a concise and insightful summary if you want more interpretive context.

Room to grow
Clearly, we have some room for improvement. Education leaders and frontline educators are working hard to make sure our students are better prepared. The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, in their most recent State of Education in Tennessee Reportlisted five priorities that could change the face of education in Tennessee. Specifically, SCORE urges us to:

—Keep moving forward with more rigorous education standards and assessments.

—Put strong leaders in schools.

—Give students more access to “great” teaching.

—Boost our technological infrastructure in preparation for more integrated instruction.

—Support students from kindergarten to career.

If you are interested in ways you can support your local school or community, consider getting involved with programs and initiatives designed to address SCORE’s recommendations. For example, PEF’s Leading and Learning efforts offer tremendous involvement and support opportunities. Likewise, our STEM and College and Career programs align with SCORE’s priorities.

Director of Research and Effectiveness Keith White tells the stories behind the data.  Keith’s columns will be featured on every other week as part of “The Learning Lab” series.

Developing Developers – STEM over the summer

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

PEF and the STEM Hub are excited to partner with DEV DEV: Summer of Code.  Check out this great interview with Elena Hatch and then sign up!

Watch the video below for more about DEV DEV.

DEVDEV from colt helton on Vimeo.

Follow the Fellows!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

For the third year in a row, Hamilton County public school teachers have earned grants to travel across the globe this summer 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 in partnership with PEF.

Check out the links below for team and individual blogs chronicling these exciting summer learning experiences.

24 HCDE teachers have been awarded 2014 Fund for Teachers grants:

1) Alpine Crest Elementary teacher Christina Cryder will explore the life and work of Galileo at key sites across Italy and encourage students to, in the Galilean model, experience science and math learning, not just acquire knowledge.

2) Barger Academy teachers Allison Fuller-Mulloy and Megan McDill will explore connections between geometric patterns and imagery dominant in the native arts of India to facilitate students’ understanding of shapes, lines, patterns and symmetry in STEM disciplines.

3) Battle Academy teacher Cynthia Kean, Lookout Valley Elementary teacher Joy Cliett, Red Bank Elementary teacher Jamelie Johns and Wallace A. Smith Elementary teacher Michelle Lowe will participate in the Elementary Mathematics Laboratory teaching and research project at the University of Michigan School of Education to extend teaching practices and coaching knowledge.

4) Brainerd High teachers Dale Dworak and Rachel Swafford-Cook will teach English in a Ghana school to experience the workings of a village economy and explore how it is affected by non-government organizations to create cross-curricular lessons for economics, African American history, government and leadership students.

5) Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences teacher Ben Schultz will visit the Andean, Amazonian and coastal regions of Ecuador to examine the ramifications of adopting the U.S. dollar as the official currency and how various cultural and ethnic groups maintain cultural identities while improving their economy through ecotourism and sustainable development.

6) Hamilton County High teacher Rachel Goan will visit New York City landmarks while interviewing inner-city social organizations to research strategies for combating truancy, crime, poverty and other social issues impeding student achievement in Hamilton County.

7) Hixson High teacher Brinn Dalton will conduct a two month, self-guided tour of Russia’s natural environments, cultural sites and historical landmarks to enhance social studies instruction and establish an on-line collaboration with Russian students learning English.

8) Hixson Middle teacher Jeremy Henderson will follow historically-significant portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail, learning about their journey, the resulting westward expansion and the impact on Native American tribes, to create new units with an emphasis on student-led research projects.

9) Normal Park Museum Magnet teachers Jill Nichols and Jamie Tipton will retrace Colonial American sites along the east coast to examine, from varying perspectives, the ramifications of events and decisions on people past and present.

10) Orchard Knob Elementary teachers Lori Cleveland and Danette Jewell will participate in the Highly Effective Teaching Summer Institute in Lake Tahoe, CA to translate brain research into practical instruction strategies that create a stronger learning community, increase student capacity and grow responsible citizens.

11) Red Bank High teacher Leah Keith-Houle will work alongside scientists and undergraduates to map the islands of St. Thomas, St. Criox and San Salvador and create with students a web-based, open source map incorporating STEM principles for hurricane preparedness.

12) Red Bank High teacher Jaime Kerns will participate in language program in Havana and, afterwards, join a 22-day tour of Cuba to develop a comprehensive view of the nation that sparks students’ natural curiosity through cross-curricular lessons.

13) Soddy Daisy High teachers Gilbert Highlander and David Wehunt will investigate the basis of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in the Galapagos Islands to develop a science unit that emphasizes the interaction of biologic and geologic processes and the effect of these processes on ecosystem development.

14) Tyner Academy teachers Cynthia and John Cooper will research the geometric layout and design of Paris to create a detailed analysis of the city’s evolution and demonstrate synergies between math, physics and science in a real-world application.

15) Woodmore Elementary teacher Ashley Frogg will attend iPadpalooza in Austin, TX, and, afterwards, visit five cities with resources most aligned with the school’s literacy curriculum to build four iTunesU courses incorporating purposeful technology that prepare students for achievement with Common Core.

Through PEF’s partnership with the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation, for the first time this year, teachers from Bradley County Schools and Cleveland City Schools will receive grants, thanks to an additional $40,000 provided by Fund for Teachers:

1) Cleveland City Schools teacher Victoria Pritchard will join the New Jersey Commission on a Holocaust Education tour of Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Amsterdam – led by a survivor – to encourage students inquiry into the essential question, “When do people need to get involved with how others are treated?”

2) Cleveland High teacher Erin Hattabaugh will interview healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom, known for its successful social medicine and educational practices, to prepare students for careers in America’s changing medical industry.

3) Ernest L. Ross Elementary teacher Tonya Mullinax will observe and experience the cultures, climate, landforms, flora and fauna of Alaska to develop a working knowledge of content covered in state standards and infuse classroom projects with energized teaching.

4) Walker Valley High teacher Christian Mann will experience across French battlefields and museums the 100-year commemoration of World War I to guide students toward empathy armed with an understanding of global interaction and their role in the world.

5) Walker Valley High teachers Sarah Garrett and Mandy Picchiottino will research the lives, surroundings and culture of early New England writers to gain deeper insight into their works and create literature lessons that bring enhance students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.

6) Walker Valley High teachers Rachel Hicks and Ann Pickens will study in Athens, Tinos and Mykonos, Greece, how a culture rich in archaic poetry, heroic ethos and religion influenced the politics of Plato and Aristotle to further student understanding of the evolution of political thought.

7) Walker Valley High teachers Kerri Shrestha and Lori Tipton will trek and bike through the Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest ecosystems, to document and demonstrate for students factors that influence the adaptations for survival of living organisms in extreme environments.

- Leslie Graitcer, PEF Fund for Teachers Coordinator

Leadership Chattanooga: Focus on Education

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Collaboration. Partnerships. Community.  Transforming public education does not take place in a bubble, nor does it happen with just one person or organization. The best results arise from authentic partnerships where everyone is using their resources and talents to achieve a goal.

Two years ago, Leadership Chattanooga, a 10-month leadership program sponsored by the Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, decided to focus its resources and talents on helping public schools. The Chamber recognized the impact 40 community leaders could make on public education if they partnered with individual schools for a year-long project. Working in teams throughout the 2013-2014 school year, participants partnered with five public schools in Hamilton County to meet specific needs that would affect students.

As a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and a member of their board, I have been honored to be part of the process to connect these schools to the Leadership Chattanooga class.  The video below is an amazing testament to the impact that mentors and community partnerships can have on our schools and students. At PEF, we like to say “It’s not about the programs, it’s about the people.” The Chamber’s Leadership Chattanooga program shows the power of people and partnerships in our schools.

- Christa Payne, Vice President of External Affairs

Service learning for students subject of next College Knowledge lunch workshop

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Join us for the next College Knowledge lunch break on Thursday, April 24 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. PEF Volunteer Coordinator Kate Skonberg will help participants learn how strategic volunteering can help students set themselves apart from the crowd.  It’s a competitive world, but through volunteering, students can gain valuable job skills, become eligible for scholarships, build career networks, and grow as a person.  Attendees will learn specific ways to find service learning and volunteer opportunities in Chattanooga and techniques toward maximizing each opportunity.

Register online today; a buffet lunch is available for $5 with advance registration only.

Public Education Night at the Lookouts May 3

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Download a flyer to share and share our Facebook event far and wide!

PEF is partnering with the Lookouts to host Public Education Night at the ballpark on Saturday, May 3 at 7:15 p.m. General admission tickets are only $5; for every ticket sold, PEF keeps $2 and after the ticket is scanned at the entry gate, we receive another $0.50. Kids 6 and under are FREE!

We need your help to publicize this fun night to family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else in your networks. May 3 is the end of TCAP week – a night at the ballpark is a great way for teachers to recognize their students’ hard work. Businesses are encouraged to purchase tickets for their employees or donate a set to their favorite school or class.

Please call 668.2430 or email me for tickets and more details. See you at the ballpark!

- Shannon Edmondson, Development & Communications Officer

Applications open for Camp College 2014

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

There’s nothing quite like spending time on a college campus to jump start your plans for life after high school. For rising seniors, our Camp College initiative provides insight, guidance, support, and information for students and their families.

Camp College starts with a planning retreat on the beautiful Sewanee: The University of the South campus from July 17-19, 2014.  Admissions officers and college advisors from across the southeast work with students in small groups and one-on-one to cover all aspects of the college application and financial aid processes. Sessions include scholarship essay writing, college searches, and a mini-college fair, as well as opportunities to meet other students and preview campus life. Parents/guardians are invited to attend a financial aid workshop during the weekend – transportation is available for those planning to attend.

Students and volunteer group leaders will be housed in a dorm on Sewanee’s campus, just 45 minutes from Chattanooga. Transportation, rooms, meals, and materials are all paid by PEF, Sewanee, and other generous sponsors. For accepted students, there will be a $25 non-refundable enrollment fee.

Camp College will host up to 40 rising seniors who meet the following criteria:

  • Be on track to graduate in 2015;
  • Have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; and
  • Have financial need and/or be the first in your family to attend college.

Applications are due by April 4 and participants will be selected by a committee of PEF staff members, community volunteers, and business leaders. Email us for more information – and apply today!

- Janice Neal, Program Associate