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Dr. Edna Varner

Senior Advisor
Leading and Learning

Edna is aSenior Advisor for Leading and Learning, a role that allows her to develop and use her leadership skills alongside a strong PEF team.  She is the lead coach for Project Inspire TeacherResidency, a program committed to developing a different kind of teacher to meet the academic and social emotional needs of students in schools that struggle to recruit and retain great teachers. A defining characteristic of teacher residency is ensuring significant levels of support for residents, graduates, and teacher mentors.  Edna also works with her team to provide leadership that helps to change the ecosystem of schools where residents and graduates work, so that teachers and students do not merely survive. They thrive.

Believing that outstanding public schools are a vital sign of a strong community commitment to support them, Edna serves on non-profit boards with education agendas.  She is currently board chair-elect of SiskinChildren’s Institute and the Chattanooga State Foundation.

Edna is a graduate of UTC where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Secondary Education/English.  She began her doctoral work at TennesseeState and finished at Carson-Newman University in 2018.  She attended Chattanooga Public Schools, and her previous work history includes teacher at Lookout Jr. High, Dalewood Jr. High, and Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.  She was assistant principal at CSAS, and principal of Chattanooga Phoenix Middle and Howard High School. For 11 years she was Director of Leadership Development for Cornerstone Literacy.

In addition to a personal passion for volunteer work, Edna loves theater/public speaking and travel. In her youth she wrote and directed her church’s annual Christmas plays, and as a young teacher she took to the stage herself at Chattanooga Theater Center, cast in several plays, including her first performance in the pivotal role of townsperson in Inherit the Wind.  These days her time on stage is as a public speaker when she is not building her bank of great travel stories.

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