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Exciting new changes to the 2017-2018 iPLC Program!

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are one of the most effective mechanisms to identify and cultivate innovative education practices.  For the past four years, our iPLC program has brought together diverse groups of educators to PEF to learn and share effective ways to integrate technology in the classroom.  As we go into our fifth year of the program, we want to leverage the expertise that we know exists in our Hamilton County schools to start localized iPLCs.  This year’s cohort will consist of iPLC Facilitators who will receive training and ongoing support to organize and run iPLCs in their schools.  A stipend will be awarded to iPLC Facilitators to honor their time and commitment.

Who should apply?  

The ideal candidate for an iPLC Facilitator is a Hamilton County educator who enjoys working with people and who has a demonstrated ability to collaborate, problem solve, and innovate.  They should also be comfortable trying new things.

Applicants must also be able to:

  • Attend all 4 iPLC Facilitator meetings held from 5:00-7:00pm on September 19, November 14, February 13, and April 10
  • Organize and lead monthly iPLC sessions at your school from October through April
  • Participate in the Teach with Tech Expo on April 28, 2018

Applications are currently open and the deadline to apply is September 11 at noon.  You can find out more and apply here.

Teacherpreneur 4.0 launches this Sunday

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Teacherpreneur 4.0 launches this Sunday
Community invited to Pitch Night to hear teachers share their visions for transforming education

After a competitive application process, 22 teachers from 16 Hamilton County public schools had their ideas selected for inclusion in the Teacherpreneur Incubator. They will spend this weekend at an intensive 48Hour Launch, culminating in a public Pitch Night. The community is invited to hear these pitches and celebrate this group of innovative educators on Sunday, July 30 at 4:00 pm at the Granfalloon, 400 E. Main St. General admission is free, but audience members must register online at, as space is limited.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator is a truly unique leadership initiative offering educators the support, time and space to launch big ideas in the best interests of our students, schools, communities and the teaching profession. PEF and the Hamilton County Department of Education are collaborating with the Benwood Foundation, the Footprint Foundation and CO.LAB, with additional support from Locals Only Merch and the Chambliss Startup Group, on this innovative approach to engaging and empowering area teachers.

In May, HCDE teachers submitted almost 40 of proposals to the Teacherpreneur Incubator. Those proposals were narrowed to the 17 teams who will enter the Teacherpreneur 48Hour Launch, where educators will receive feedback, support and encouragement from entrepreneurs, mentors and community members throughout the weekend. The 48Hour Launch will be hosted at the Edney Innovation Center. Volunteers are welcome to attend.

On Sunday, July 30, the Launch culminates with educators pitching their ideas to a panel of judges at the Granfalloon. Projects will be chosen to receive funding and the on-going support to take ideas from concept to classroom; in addition, the top three project teams will receive prize money, as will a crowd-favorite voted on by the audience. VIP seats are $25. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be available during the event.

Michael Stone, PEF Director of Innovative Learning says, “We are always blown away by the community support for Teacherpreneur – we’re lucky to work with educators like these every day, but this is an incredible opportunity for the public to see the kinds of innovative professionals we have in every school in Hamilton County. With ideas ranging from a drone-racing course to a digital badging application to a bi-lingual guide to elementary math, we’re excited to see this year’s cohort take the stage!”

This year’s Teacherpreneur competitors include: Beth Wilson (Red Bank Elementary); Chris Cooper (Ooltewah Middle School); Colby Williams (East Hamilton High School); Dan Basler (Lookout Valley Middle/High School); Danielle Morgan Hooper (Central High School); Marie Dean (Brainerd High School); Lisa Blakely (Big Ridge Elementary) and Genise Fletcher (Tyner Academy), Magan Lampard (Wolftever Creek Elementary) and Sue Williamson (STEM School); Mary Manning, Drew Akins and James Stone (Red Bank High School); Matthew Craig (Red Bank Middle and High School); Mendi Catlett (Harrison Elementary); Olivia Bagby (Red Bank High School); Sara Durst (East Lake Elementary); Sara Southard (Harrison Elementary); Shannon Seigle (STEM School Chattanooga); Shela Brazeale and Jim Snyder (Central High School); and Tara Tharp (Signal Mountain Middle/High School).

Shop AmazonSmile and help PEF with every purchase

Thursday, March 16th, 2017


Did you know AmazonSmile gives back to nonprofits? Each time you shop through, the company donates 0.5% of your eligible purchase to the organization of your choice!

It’s easy to get started. Simply click the button above! Then shop til you drop, knowing you’re helping PEF invest in teachers, develop leaders, and support students every time you fill your cart.

Looking for the perfect gift?

Monday, December 5th, 2016

The best gifts make a difference all year – how about a gift that transforms public education?

We are happy to recognize donations in honor or memory of a teacher, family member, friend, or colleague. Simply note the name of the honoree on our online giving form and list the name and address for the gift notification (your gift amount will not be shared with the recipient).

Donate to PEF today!

iPLC helps educators amplify effect of technology

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Since the late 1970’s education reformers have pointed to value of thriving professional learning communities. In the last three decades, educational researchers have thoroughly documented the critical role these collaborative groups play in implementing real change throughout a school and school system. In practice the idea is simple: identify individuals who have a shared interest and similar, yet different expertise, and develop a forum for them to share their insights so that the group as a whole can glean the unique value each individual offers.

With the emergence of personalized technologies and their increasingly common presence in classrooms over the last 5 to ten years, it has become clear that providing students and teachers with access to technology is only the first step in productive 21st century classrooms. As technology’s pervasive role in the classroom continues to evolve, teachers are desperate to stay up with best practices for leveraging its amazing capabilities. To support teachers in this pursuit, PEF, with support from the Community Foundation, started iPLC—a year-long cohort comprised of K-12 teachers from across Hamilton County strategically designed to identify, refine, and share innovative and effective uses of instructional technology. This year, based on feedback from previous cohorts and members of the community, we are excited to announce that we will be offering the iPLC experience along with a new option iPLC Genius—designed for our most tech-savvy teachers with a desire to lead and serve as a point of contact for others who are looking to develop their capacity to effectively leverage new technologies.

While many of our supporters have generously placed substantial investments in classroom technology in public schools across Hamilton County, we want to ensure that teachers have access to training on how to use those technologies for an improved student experience, and we hope to provide teachers an opportunity to share discoveries they have made along their journey. Hamilton County has some of the best teachers in the country. iPLC and iPLC Genius offer those teachers a chance to be heard and to help ensure that every student has access to a quality education.

— Michael Stone, STEM Director of Innovative Learning

PEF Launches Policy Fellowship

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

After a competitive application process, 19 educators were selected to join PEF’s inaugural cohort of Policy Fellows.  With the support of the Benwood Foundation, this group of teachers, coaches and counselors will spend the next 16 months exploring education and public policy.  They will study the challenges that face our community and our students, meeting with elected leaders, and, ultimately, use their knowledge and experience to advocate for their students and for public education.

“We’re very excited to launch this new program, nearly two years in the making,” said Dan Challener, President of the Public Education Foundation. “The voice of actual teachers is so often missing in the crafting of public policy, especially education policy. These nineteen extraordinary teachers—from schools all across Hamilton County—are experts in their field—who better to advocate for children and public schools?”

The members of the first cohort include:Policy Fellows

  • Adrianne Cowan – Ooltewah Middle
  • Andrew Browning-Couch – STEM School
  • Anthony Goad – Tyner Middle Academy [Facilitator]
  • Bo Chamberlain – Signal Mountain Middle-High
  • Brandon Hubbard-Heitz – The Howard School
  • Emeri Gordon – Hixson Middle School
  • Genise Fletcher – Brainerd High School
  • Greg Kubisak – STEM School Chattanooga
  • Jamie Petty – Normal Park Museum Magnet School
  • Jesse Goins – Battle Academy
  • Jessica Hubbuch – The Howard School
  • John Cunningham – Brainerd High School
  • Katie Hetrick – Battle Academy
  • Kennisha Cann – Rivermont and Harrison Elementary
  • Latanya Mason – Barger Academy
  • Leah Keith-Houle – Red Bank High School
  • Lisa Blakely – Big Ridge and Soddy Elementary
  • Pat Goldsmith – Red Bank Elementary School
  • Tad Russell – Soddy Daisy Middle School

During their first meeting, Policy Fellows joined the community for a talk by Amanda Ripley, journalist and author of The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got that Way, as part of the Chattanooga 2.0 series inspiring conversations and ideas about our education system. Fellows then engaged in a private conversation with Ms. Ripley, asking questions about how policies in other nations strengthen schools. Fellows came together again in May to learn about the history of change in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, from integration to Gig City, with Ken Hays, CEO of the Enterprise Center, Edna Varner, former Principal of the Howard School, and Bill Kennedy, Vice President of Leading and Learning at PEF. In the months to come, the Fellows will have opportunities to meet with community leaders, as well as elected officials from the city, county, and state.

Contact PEF’s Geoff Millener at or 423-648-4448 for more information about Policy Fellows.

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.

Teacherpreneur 2.0 launches Sunday, August 2

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Community invited to Pitch Night to hear teachers share their visions for transforming education

After a competitive application process, 21 teacher teams from Hamilton County public schools will participate in an intensive 48-Hour Launch weekend as participants in the second cohort of the Teacherpreneur Incubator through PEF.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator is a unique leadership initiative which offers teachers support, time and space to incubate big ideas and execute them in the best interests of their students and their profession. PEF and the Hamilton County Department of Education are collaborating with the Benwood Foundation, Footprint Foundation, and CO.LAB on this innovative approach to engaging and empowering area teachers.

In May, HCDE teachers submitted more than 60 proposals to the Teacherpreneur Incubator.  Those proposals were narrowed to 21 teams who will enter the Teacherpreneur 48-Hour Launch, based on the CO.LAB model where educators will receive feedback, support, and encouragement from mentors and community members throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, August 2 from 4:00-6:00 p.m., the Launch culminates with educators pitching their ideas to a panel of judges at Granfalloon, 400 E. Main Street. Pitches will be chosen to receive funding and on-going support to take ideas from concept to classroom.  The community is invited to attend – please reserve tickets below:



Keri Randolph, PEF Vice President of Learning says, “Last year’s Pitch Night was incredible. It was a great opportunity for the community to hear innovative ideas directly from our teachers. Educators have creative, entrepreneurial solutions to classroom, school and community challenges, and Teacherpreneur is a way to invest in them as professionals by helping those ideas come to life.”

This year’s diverse Teacherpreneur proposals include:

– A professional audio recording studio for high school students in downtown Chattanooga
– Bridging physical activity and learning by retrofitting classroom furniture
– An on-demand app for students to access guidance counselors and personalize their interactions
– Student-created 360 degree virtual field trips to be used by participants worldwide

Contact PEF’s Keri Randolph at or 423-648-2426 for more information.

Teacher Spotlight: Jill Blackmon

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

East Lake Elementary teacher Jill Blackmon was named a WDEF News 12 Golden Apple Award winner for starting an after-school ‪STEM program after she won a Junior League of Chattanooga Mini-Grant. Learn more about why Ms. Blackmon is a teacher in the clip below:

She’s also a former Project Inspire Tennessee clinical instructor for math & science teaching residents. East Lake Elementary won a $50,000 grant from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children last summer to purchase almost 200 Chromebooks for students, some of which you can see in the video. Congratulations to Ms. Blackmon – we’re inspired by the great STEM work happening at East Lake Elementary!

Learn more about the creative, problem-based, hands-on learning happening in our region from the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub.

PEF’s Stacy Lightfoot organizes GEAR UP conference

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Did you know PEF’s Vice President of College and Career Success, Stacy Lightfoot, organized the TN GEAR UP Youth Summit? Building on years of experience working with high school students, this conference focused on eight graders and their options for college. See Stacy at about 1:30 in the video below.