Local Business Leaders Complete Public School Projects, Graduate From Leadership Chattanooga

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thirty-nine of the city’s emerging leaders capped off 10 months of skill-building, leadership education and community project implementation today at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Community Leadership Luncheon.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke delivered the keynote address at the event, which took place at the Chattanooga Convention Center between 11:30 a.

m. and 1 p.m. Grouped into five teams, the 2012-2013 Leadership Chattanooga Class recently completed volunteer projects at local public schools, which were summarized in a video during the luncheon.

The five schools which partnered with Leadership Chattanooga groups were Bess T. Shepherd Elementary, Dalewood Middle, East Side Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary and Orchard Knob Middle. Projects ranged from establishing mentoring programs and parental support space to connecting business resources with school needs.

About the 2012-2013 Teams and Projects

Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School Team

With the goal of helping students prepare for the future, the seven-member Bess T. Shepherd team launched a new Leadership Academy at Bess T. Shepherd Elementary to teach basic leadership principles to children in the third through fifth grades throughout the school year.

Composed of 36 participants selected by the faculty, the Leadership Academy brought students together on a weekly basis to learn everyday applications for the leadership skills they explored through the program. In addition to these regularly scheduled gatherings, students also participated in a variety of extracurricular opportunities out in the community.

Among those was a service day, where participants completed various school beautification and improvement projects. Students also participated in a field trip to First Tennessee, where they learned about financial literacy, and to Woople, LLC, where they filmed videos about the meaning of leadership from their own perspectives. The extracurricular activities culminated at the end of the year with Leadership Day, where local business leaders delivered presentations about their roles in the community and Leadership Academy participants shared their accomplishments throughout the year with the entire school.

“We were fortunate to work with a really wonderful school that had a very clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish through our partnership,” said Jeremy Henderson, a Bess T. Shepherd team member and graphic designer for the Chattanooga Chamber. “Collaborating with the faculty to develop curriculum and plan field trips for Leadership Academy was an incredible experience for our team.”

Members of the Bess T. Shepherd team include Camille Daniel of First Tennessee; Beth Harrell of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga, LLC; Jeremy Henderson of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Robert Hicks of Alstom Power, Inc.; Kristin Leffew of Kenco Group; David Martin of La Paz Chattanooga; Ryan Rose of Volkswagen Chattanooga and Gideon Thomas of Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.

Dalewood Middle School Team

Members of the “Equipping Leaders” team at Dalewood Middle School developed working relationships between local companies and Dalewood faculty and staff to meet a range of important resource needs.

As a result of the team’s outreach, area businesses contributed more than $6,000 in supplies and monetary donations to the school. Among those contributions were more than $1,000 in science lab equipment, 118 uniforms for students in need and a full stock of items for the school’s TCAP testing supply and snack closet, as well as a full year of funding for a male and female Student of the Month initiative.

“The most crucial aspect of our work was establishing connections between local businesses and the school so progress continues beyond the life of our project,” said Joel Henderson, an Equipping Leaders team member and vice president of public affairs for North American Credit Services. “Sustainability was our overarching goal, and we hope to see those relationships continue to proliferate.”

Beyond acquiring financial assistance, the Equipping Leaders team worked with UTC to support Dalewood’s grant writing process and also supported the school’s marketing efforts by providing administrators with a package of media outreach tools. In addition, the group secured a commitment from TVA to start a school Robotics Club. They also worked with TVA to submit Dalewood Middle’s application to Partners in Education (PIE), which would make the school eligible for computer donations, financial contributions and employee involvement from TVA.

Dalewood Middle School Team members include Patrick Bobo of Lamp Post Group and sponsored by the City of Chattanooga; Pam Fleenor of Duncan & Hatcher; Adam Green of Nooga.com; Joel Henderson of North American Credit Services; Peterson Hostetler of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney; Phillip Johnson of UTC; Florence Lindo of Unum and Annette Moore of TVA.

East Side Elementary School Team

The East Side Elementary group developed three opportunities to broaden students’ career horizons and motivate them to start working toward the future today. Those projects included establishing a mentorship program, organizing a field trip to Chattanooga State Community College and hosting a career fair for students.

With mentoring at the heart of their strategy, the team brought a core group of students’ potential into focus by establishing individual relationships with them. Each member regularly met with a dedicated group of students to engage in activities ranging from reading books in the library to playing basketball.

Because most students at East Side Elementary have few, if any, opportunities to tour a college at such young ages, the team partnered with Chattanooga State to organize an onsite visit that would spark their enthusiasm for potential careers.

“As we showed students around Chattanooga State’s media center, their eyes lit up once they realized a career in a profession like broadcasting could one day become their reality,” said Lisa Crawford, an East Side Elementary team member and day meeting manager for The Chattanoogan Hotel. “It was incredibly rewarding to witness.”

Once students learned about the many fields of study offered in college, the East Side Elementary team organized a career fair to capitalize on their momentum and build upon students’ newfound career interests. Professionals in fields everywhere from engineering to entrepreneurship were on hand to provide firsthand perspectives to East Side students during the event.

East Side Elementary School team members include Lisa Crawford of The Chattanoogan Hotel; Josh Davis of PA Group and sponsored by InfoSystems, Inc.; David DiBiase of EPB; Mike Dumitru of Miller & Martin, PLLC; Lucy Gates of Decosimo; Lacey Heftka of Center for Oral & Facial Surgery; Elaine Manieri of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Jack Silberman of JMD Group, LLC.

Hillcrest Elementary School Team

Members of the Hillcrest Elementary School “Project H.E.L.P.” team inspired students to reach their potential by giving them a sense of community support.

H.E.L.P., which stands for Hillcrest Elementary Leadership Partners, is a sustainable mentoring program launched to provide positive role models to children in difficult circumstances. School faculty selected the participants, who met weekly with Leadership Partners throughout the year. During these face-to-face sessions, mentors and mentees engaged in discussions about academic and behavioral issues with the goal of learning to apply positive examples to challenging situations.

“Our goal was to change young lives one child at a time,” said Heather Burrell, a Project H.E.L.P. team member and director of administration for Mike Collins & Associates, Inc. “Hearing about the positive results Hillcrest teachers have experienced in the classroom is very rewarding, and we believe these outcomes speak to the transformative value of connecting role models with children.”

To ensure the program continues, the Project H.E.L.P. team has already secured commitments from local professionals to serve as mentors next year. In addition to establishing this network, the group also hosted a Career Day for the entire fifth grade class to connect students with more professionals in the community. Team members also raised funds to repair damaged playground equipment at Hillcrest – another important gesture of support from the business community.

Hillcrest Elementary School Team members include Heather Burrell of MCA; Angela Burris of Ferrara Candy Company; Ashley Evans of the AIM Center; Fred Flint of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Yousef Hamadeh of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel; Liz Hobbs of Chattem and Barry Jennison of Chattanooga State Community College.

Orchard Knob Middle School Team

In response to feedback from Orchard Knob Middle School (OKMS) administrators, the “Family Partnership” team developed a sustainable model for a joint Parent Classroom and Dress Code Closet based on the school’s goal to increase parental involvement and ensure dress code compliance. A dual-function space is now open on campus to meet those needs.

With a project emphasis on community support, the Family Partnership team connected with local partners to host clothing drives and collect donated supplies for the construction, cleaning and furnishing of the Parent Classroom. Other supporters provided educational materials and coupons to stock Orchard Knob’s Parent Classroom, ensuring they have as many resources at their disposal as possible.

Community support for the initiative increased aggressively throughout the project, with total funds and in-kind donations reaching approximately $6,000 by the end of the school year. In some instances, individual donors contributed amounts of $1,000 at a time.

“Principal [Crystal] Sorrells laid out solid ideas for the changes she wanted to make at OKMS,” said Talley Clower, a Family Partnership team member and business banking sales manager for Regions Bank. “It has been an honor and privilege working with her and her colleagues to achieve part of her vision for this school.”

Orchard Knob Middle School Team members include Tod Cain of Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation; Talley Clower of Regions Bank and sponsored by Cohutta Banking Company; Lyndsi Lane of the Chattanooga Times Free Press; Amy Lowdermilk of OneConsulting, LLC; Brent McLean of Memorial Mission Surgery Center; Neil Pratt of Accent Construction Management; Billie Rose of the Junior League of Chattanooga and Janie Sok of Reliable Building Solutions.


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