Archive for the ‘STEM’ Category

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.

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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.

Opportunities for teacher leadership

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Two opportunities for teacher leadership development are currently available through PEF. Please share these with your networks!

STEM Fellows 5.0

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. 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. The program includes a three-day summer workshop, four full-day workshops during the school year, a job shadow, project, and a $500 stipend in addition to other support. Applications are online and are due April 22. Questions? Contact Kate Skonberg.

Teacherpreneur 3.0

The Teacherpreneur Incubator offers teachers support, time and space to incubate big ideas and execute them in the best interests of their students and their profession. The Incubator brings together teachers, business people, and community members to launch transformative ideas. Modeled after Co.Lab’s 48HR Launch, the Teacherpreneur Incubator’s 48HR Launch Weekend  is designed to connect public school teachers with the resources they need by developing compelling, short pitches for a panel of judges. Even if a project doesn’t receive funding, support and mentoring will continue to ensure that innovative projects can transform our schools. Learn more and develop a proposal during a meetup, then apply online by May 23. Contact Geoff Millener for more information.

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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.

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Twelve Teacher Residents Join Project Inspire

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Summer brings a time of much needed rest for many area teachers, but there is one group of new teachers who will be spending the whole summer preparing to enter area math and science classrooms as part of Project Inspire, PEF’s teacher residency program that partners with Tennessee Technological University and Hamilton County Department of Education to train new secondary math and science teachers.


Back row: Michael Romano, Susie Everly, Anne Holt, William Budd, Katie Butler, Jennifer Zellner, Tiffany Corkran, Scott Tunnell. Front row: Ella Bonah, Hannah Beker, Anne Holt, Kasi Quinn

As of June 1, PEF and Project Inspire’s twelve new teacher residents embarked on their journeys into math and science teaching by participating in Project Inspire’s orientation and starting their graduate courses with Tennessee Tech in curriculum and instruction. The residents are a select group, as almost one hundred individuals completed applications to the program. Many are recent college graduates who found teacher residency to be a fit because they wanted to pursue teaching, but had undergraduate degrees in other subjects, such as environmental science, mathematics, astrophysics, biology, chemistry, geology, and economics.  While several of the residents call Chattanooga home, some became new Chattanooga residents when they moved from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Idaho, and from other cities in Tennessee to join Project Inspire. Our professionals write my essay for cheap at its best. Diplomas, reference work – all this will be done in the best possible way! Guaranteed!

What would cause a young twenty-something to move across the country to teach in urban schools?  Across this particular group, you will find a deep commitment to build relationships with students and the belief that strong public education is essential for a flourishing city. “I started to desire more out of a job than just a paycheck,” says William Budd, formerly of Antioch, Illinois, who joins Project Inspire from a former career as a geologist and environmental scientist. “I believe that STEM is the future for many exciting and rewarding career paths as our society moves forward. I would like to be an avenue to help educate, motivate, and support our future engineers and scientists. Chattanooga has a very productive future and it is my goal to help build a local workforce to fill those jobs.”

All of the residents are eager to start the school year so they can start working with students. Tiffany Corkran is a recent graduate of Christian Brothers University with a B.S. in chemistry. When asked what biggest life lesson she wanted to teach her students, she turned the question around and replied, “I hope to learn humility from my students. At times, it’s easy to think that we know everything. Already I’m learning this isn’t true, and I know that learning about my students’ lives and backgrounds will give me a new perspective on my life and help me understand how the world works.” Tiffany’s answer reflects the whole cohort’s desire to be lifelong learners and hold themselves to the same growth-mindset that they will require of their students.

In order to prepare these new teacher residents to be classroom-ready, there is much work to be done. Because of this, life as a new resident is a little like drinking from a fire hydrant! Summer classes from Tennessee Tech, seminars with the Project Inspire staff, and community learning take up the majority of this group’s time. As the new school year approaches, the teacher residents will spend time in their new classrooms with their clinical instructors, veteran mentor teachers from Dalewood Middle School, Tyner Middle Academy, and Tyner Academy. By the time that school begins the second week of August, the residents will be supporting their clinical instructors in their classrooms and working towards teaching their first lessons. After the residency year, the teacher residents will graduate with master’s of education degrees from TTU and be well prepared to make a difference in the lives of students in their own HCDE classrooms.

Please join PEF in welcoming these twelve new teacher residents! We look forward to the ways this group is going to push our thinking and help us get excited all over again about impacting students. We are also grateful for the contributions of the National Science Foundation, the Tucker Foundation, and AmeriCorps, which make teacher residency a reality in Chattanooga. If you, or someone you know, is interested in secondary math or science teaching, visit, as the application process for the 2016-2017 cohort opens July 1.

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STEM Fellows recognized Tuesday

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

PEF and the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub recognized 27 educators from Southeast Tennessee who completed a Fellowship in STEM teaching and best practices on Tuesday, May 26. The K-12 public school educators represent nine school districts in Southeast Tennessee. The Fellows have completed a year-long professional development program, which includes two summer workshops, monthly seminars, and a job shadow experience and community partner project. The Fellowship is designed to give teachers the tools to be leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in our region.

Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce CEO Bill Kilbride spoke about the importance of STEM education in preparing students for the 21st century workforce.  Read more about the event in a Times Free Press article

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Hamilton County Schools

Chattanooga School for Arts & Sciences – Kristin Burrus
Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts – Scott Rosenow
Clifton Hills Elementary – Cristol Kapp
East Hamilton Middle High – David Manley
East Lake Academy – Beverly Hamilton-Adkins
Howard School – Andrew Browning-Couch
Loftis Middle – Ashley Reagan
Normal Park – Erin Woodrow
Ooltewah Middle – Angela Mullins
Orchard Knob Elementary – Judy Bullington
Red Bank Elementary – Alicia Clevenger, Elisabeth Wilson
Red Bank Middle – Kimberly Elbakidze
Sequoyah High – Stephen Tompkins

Blount County Schools

Heritage High – Robert Stewart

Bradley County Schools

Ocoee Middle – Dustin Fromm
Park View Elementary – Heather Hayes

Cleveland City Schools

Cleveland Middle – Suzanne Gregory
E.L. Ross Elementary – Becca Cathell

Etowah City Schools

Etowah City School – Debbie Lennex

Loudon County Schools

Eaton Elementary – Tarah Karczewski
Fort Loudon Middle – Joseph Davis
North Middle – Anne Harvey
Philadelphia Elementary – Angela Bright-White

McMinn County Schools

Rogers Creek Elementary – Teresa Tallent

Polk County Schools

Copper Basin High – Craig Green

Sweetwater City Schools

Brown Intermediate – Rebecca McBride

The incoming cohort of 2015-16 STEM Fellows was also recognized. Congratulations!

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STEM School demonstrates unique 4K microscope collaboration

Monday, May 18th, 2015

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to Public Education Foundation and University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (USC) to support the first-in-the nation cross-country collaboration using the Gigabit network. With USC, students at STEM School Chattanooga are designing experiments to study the effects of human activity on microbial ecosystems both here at home in Chattanooga, as well as a continent away in the Pacific Ocean. Representatives from PEF, STEM School Chattanooga, and The Enterprise Center presented this innovative collaboration at national US Ignite and GENI Summit in Washington D.C. on March 25.

What does a cross-country collaboration look like? Watch the video below to see how it works.

On May 14, the community was invited to see the microscope in action and experience the power of ultra-high-definition video over Chattanooga’s gigabit internet connection. Guests were awed by the microorganisms swimming across a monitor in real time, which had been collected earlier that day. After the demonstration, students presented their projects that made use of this innovative technology, including a test of the effects of Coca-Cola on water ecosystems and how Miracle Gro performed compared to cow manure fertilizer.Break up marriage spell.

After discussing how much using a microscope enhanced their enjoyment and understanding of science classwork, students wondered why microscopy isn’t available in elementary schools. The answer turned out to be cost, so STEM School students prototyped and then 3D printed a $10 microscope in their school’s FabLab that uses a smartphone camera for magnification. This is the power of problem- and project-based learning: students were engaged in their class, posed a question, then set out to creatively solve a problem in their community. PEF is pleased to be a partner in this innovative work!

For more, read and watch coverage of the event by the Times Free Press and WDEF.

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Two opportunities for teacher leadership

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Students may be winding down this school year, but opportunities for teachers to be empowered, engaged, and energized are heating up.

Last year’s Teacherpreneur Incubator launched entrepreneurial ideas in education all across our district. This year’s Incubator (dubbed 2.0) can be even better! PEF will hold meetings during the coming weeks to share information about the Incubator and allow educators interested in participating to share ideas and collaborate. It is recommended that you attend at least one meetup, but you are welcome to attend as many as you like. The next meetups are scheduled for Thursday, April 23; Tuesday, April 28; Monday, May 4. Online registration is required.

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If you want to learn cutting edge ways to engage students through problem-based learning, inquiry teaching, cross-curriculum integration and technology integration, STEM Fellow applications are now open for the 2015-16 school year. 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.


Questions about either of these programs? Contact Keri Randolph (423.668.2426).

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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!


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