Archive for the ‘Leading & Learning’ Category

DuPont, East Ridge Elementary Schools Awarded Prestigious Annenberg Grants

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

PEF is pleased to announce two grants of $50,000 each from The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children to DuPont Elementary and East Ridge Elementary. DuPont will remodel and repurpose the existing library into the “Epicenter of Learning and Collaboration,” provide students with new books and e-readers, build a “Mealtime Conversation” learning lab, and refurbish areas dedicated to technology and collaboration. East Ridge will allow students at all levels to benefit from a new “Synergy Station” with updated reading materials, literary technology, and new seating in their library.

This is the eighth year of a collaborative effort between PEF and The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children resulting in significant financial support to 14 area schools. 2017 marks the final year of grants from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, which will have given a total of $7 million to 91 public elementary schools that are in financial need and serve a high proportion of children from families living in poverty.

“For a decade, the Leonore Annenberg School Fund has sought to create new learning opportunities for public elementary school students,” said Gail Levin, Ph.D., director of the program, which is administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “We are grateful for the steady, hands-on support of our regional partner organizations, the commitment and passion of teachers and staff in each school recipient, and especially the children who gave joy and meaning to our collective efforts.”

“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 Dupont Elementary and East Ridge Elementary. The public will be invited to celebrations at each school in the fall to see 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 over $1 million to schools in southeast Tennessee. Previous local grants have funded diverse projects including a reading lab, multimedia facility, art studio, media center, classroom technology, playground improvements, science lab, classroom book nooks, Chromebooks, a student leadership program, software, and technology upgrades.

About the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children

The Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, provides educational resources of immediate and direct value to schools serving children with great need. Visit

Project Inspire featured in U.S. News and World Report

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Read the full article at

Graduate Teacher Residency Programs Help Educators Make the Grade

Through these programs, prospective teachers train to help low-income, high-need schools

By Margaret Loftus, Contributor | March 30, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

… Similar to the medical school residency, where physicians are trained in hospitals alongside practicing clinicians, these teacher prep programs give participants almost immediate exposure to leading a K-12 classroom instead of holding off and providing a shorter student-teaching stint just before they earn a degree.
“The best place to train a teacher is in a school,” says Mark Neal, the director of Project Inspire, a teacher residency in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Everything you’re learning is being applied in a classroom.”

… So far, retention rates are promising. While federal data indicate that about 1 in 6 public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years, other estimates suggest that the figure might be as high as 50 percent. In 2015-2016, the five-year retention rate across NCTR programs was 70 percent.

Final FFT workshop offered Jan. 10

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Join us for a final workshop and information session before applications are due on January 31. This will be particularly useful to those who have started writing their applications and have specific questions, but is open to all. Please share this with your networks!

Tuesday, January 10 at 4:30 PM

PEF Leadership Center
100 East 10th Street, 3rd floor
Chattanooga, TN 37402

This event is free, but you must RSVP to Joni Martin via email. She will send parking information when you register.

Fund for Teachers application workshop

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Join us at PEF to work on your application for 2017 Fund for Teachers fellowships on Tuesday, December 13. Stuck on a particular section, or confused about what’s allowed and not? Bring your work so far and lots of questions – Leslie Graitcer will walk you through the process.

RSVP online to this free event beginning at 4:30 pm in our 3rd floor Leadership Center.



Fund for Teachers now accepting applications

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Fund for Teachers has opened applications for summer 2017 expeditions. All applications are completed online through the FFT site and are due by January 31, 2017.

Fund for Teachers provides educators, possessing a broad vision of what it means to teach and learn, the resources needed to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences. FFT grants are used for an unlimited variety of projects; all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students and their school communities. We believe that supporting teachers’ active participation in their own professional growth, positively impacts student learning and achievement.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements.

Full-time preK-12th grade teachers:


  • Spending at least 50% of their work week in direct classroom instruction
  • Returning to the classroom in the consecutive school year
  • Will have at least three years’ experience as a preK-12th grade teacher at the end of the school year


Individuals may apply for up to $5,000 and teams may apply for up to $10,000 (while team members may be from different schools, districts or states, all members must meet the eligibility criteria). Upon award, Fellows will receive 90 percent of their grant, the remaining 10 percent to be reimbursed upon completion of post-fellowship requirements.

Read a few blogs written by 2016 Fellows to get inspired, then start your application today!

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.

Fund for Teachers fellows share their journeys

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Our 2016 Fund for Teachers Fellows are finishing up their summer learning expeditions and preparing to go back to the classroom this week, energized and excited to share their experiences with their students.

Chris Raynolds of Signal Mountain Middle/High has recently returned from Japan. He chronicled his trip (including lots of great photos) at

Howard High School teachers Jessica Hubbuch and Sean Brown traveled to Costa Rica, Belize, and Guatemala to e explore tropical rainforests, plate tectonics, and Central American culture. They’ve written blogs at and are sharing gorgeous photos in a Google album.

A celebration and showcase of each educator’s summer experience will be held later in the fall. Congratulations to this year’s Fund for Teachers Fellows!


Don’t miss this year’s Teacherpreneur Pitch Night

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Come listen on July 31st as Hamilton County’s most innovative teachers pitch their big ideas for public education. Starting at 4pm Teacherpreneurs, having spent the previous 48 hours honing their projects, will pitch in front of a panel of judges and our startup community (that’s you!) at the Church on Main. Admission is free, and there will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar – with two drink tickets provided with each purchase of a VIP ticket for $25. Audience members will also be able to vote online, awarding a $500 prize to the crowd favorite.

Teacherpreneur 3.0 Pitch Night Flyer TKYqHbZOyMNDsC-cGz4U3OrY5245BxRBm2h3fLFd4YA cO_B-5G46W6tOb4OybOoy9Dq0FJWlvF7jOLHeFY4Fs4

Teacherpreneur is an event unlike any other. Come out and cheer on these fantastic educators as they take the stage! Space is limited, so register today.

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!

STEM Fellows Cohort 5 Announced

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Congratulations to members of the fifth cohort of STEM Fellows!

The STEM Teaching Fellows program is an annual cohort of Southeast Tennessee educators from across the region who engage in a year of professional development activities focused on STEM best practices. These teachers become STEM leaders for their schools and districts.  Over the course of the year, members of the cohort receive training and coaching on best practices in problem-based learning, inquiry teaching, cross-curriculum integration and technology integration.

2016-17 Participants

Taryn Painter, Apison
Kalah Newsome, Battle
Megan Leonard, Calvin Donaldson
Lauren Serio, CSLA
Sara Durst, East Lake
Colleen Ryan, Hardy
Arthur Williams, Lakeside Academy
Barbara Crosslin, Lookout Valley
Rachel Teas, Nolan
Margaret Hall, Red Bank
Christine Loveridge, Rivermont
Michelle Morgan, Parkview – Bradley County
Amanda Lann, Woodstation – Catoosa County
Karen Neal, Gilber t- Walker County
Angie Owens, Battlefield Primary – Catoosa County

Kara Semtner, Normal Park Upper
Krystal Bankston, Ooltewah
Rob Dodson, Signal Mountain
Madison Shaw (Lowry), Soddy Daisy
Michelle Collins, Soddy Daisy
Gretchen McDonald, Etowah City School
Lugenia Suttles, LaFayette Middle – Walker County

James Snyder, Central
Andrew Meador, CGLA
Japho Hardin, Howard
Jillian Simpson, Tyner
Jeff Scott, Red Bank
Rhonda Smith, Heritage – Blount County
Anna Spears, Cleveland High – Cleveland City Schools
Joy Samsel, Rhea County High – Rhea County

Working with leaders from business and post-secondary education, the fellows develop STEM lessons and projects for immediate implementation in the classroom. Exposure to innovative instructional strategies and classroom tools provides them with resources and ideas for their students and fellow colleagues.

STEM Fellows participate in a 3-day summer workshop and 4 full-day seminars during the school year.  Between meetings, the STEM Fellows can get coaching, ideas and supports from the program.

For more on the STEM Fellows program, contact Kate Skonberg.