Archive for the ‘Get Informed’ Category

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!


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