Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Have you ever wanted to travel in time?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Have you ever wanted to travel in time? Most of us have wished at one time or another that we could change the past. I can’t offer you that. But you do have the opportunity to change the future.

Right now, the future of our community is sitting in a classroom learning to read, how to count to one hundred, or how cells divide. They are learning what they love, what they are good at, and who they want to be. And you can be a part of that. We have a chance to guide tomorrow’s leaders, and to make a choice about what we want our future to look like.

You may not know it, but you have something special that you can contribute. There are a multitude of opportunities to volunteer in schools. You can volunteer as a tutor, a mentor, or a classroom assistant. Help a child learn to read, or help with their math homework.  Encourage them to apply for college and help them apply for financial aid. You can help to clean or paint an aging school building. You can volunteer for a fundraiser, or write grants. You can let a child shadow you at your job.  You can find a way to inspire a child, and to make learning fun!

Schools are always looking for volunteers. Try contacting your neighborhood school and see what they need help with. You can volunteer on a regular basis, or for special projects and events. In addition to PEF, there are plenty of other organizations in Chattanooga that support education. You can contact one directly, or browse listings at

During National Volunteer Week, remember that you have an amazing opportunity before you. You can’t change the past, but you can help create a beautiful future. Thanks you for all you do!

-Meghan Greene, PEF Intern, UTC Public Administration and Nonprofit Management

SOAR beyond the numbers

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Last week I watched an episode of PBS’s show Frontline titled “Dropout Nation.” This documentary shared the story of four high school students in crisis and the principals, teachers, and counselors who are committed to improving  their chances of receiving a high school diploma. It also highlighted the Apollo 20 Program (partnership with Harvard University’s Education Innovation Laboratory), which is a program designed to improve the academic achievement  of 20 “priority” schools in Houston. Apollo 20 is built around five tenets: effective principals  and teachers, more instructional time, use of data to lead instruction, tutoring, and a culture of high expectations for everyone.

Watching this documentary was a reminder that educators must often look beyond test scores and absences to better understand what’s going on with our students. As we know, intellectual ability has very little to do with the increasing dropout rates. So why is this documentary important to PEF and what we do? Since the SOAR staff work with college students, it’s important that our efforts are focused on developing them as a “whole” student. If the GPAs and retention rates decreases, we must review the academics but not ignore life circumstances. The SOAR Peer Coaches are responsible for developing a relationship with the SOAR students and maintaining consistent communication (face-to-face, phone, text, email, and Facebook) to walk with them through their collegiate experience. As personal circumstances are shared, we have an opportunity to intervene and direct students to appropriate resources. So, I challenge all educators to take a step back and look at the full picture before we dismiss the future of our students.

– Michelle Caldwell, SOAR Coordinator

Watch this preview of “Dropout Nation”:

Watch Dropout Nation Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.