Re:Start Holds Annual Meeting To Celebrate And Discuss Adult Education And Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement

Monday, September 30, 2013

Re:Start will celebrate more than 10 years of adult education initiatives in Hamilton County as part of its 54th annual meeting, which is scheduled from 4–5:30 p.m. today on the fourth floor of the downtown branch of the Chattanooga Public Library.  Tom Griscom, president of Chattanooga’s Downtown Rotary Club and former editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, is scheduled to open the meeting with a speech about the impact adult education initiatives have made in local economic development efforts. 

As Tennessee's oldest adult literacy education program, Re:Start can trace its mission back to 1959 when several community leaders came together to form the Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement.  In 2009, this initiative changed its name from Reading Education for Adult Development (READ) of Chattanooga to Re:Start as the organization launched a new effort to change the perception of Adult Literacy Education in Hamilton County.

According to Re:Start Executive Director Lori Hairrell, “The Board took a series of bold steps in 2005 to implement deep changes for adult education reform. Thanks to $2 million of financial investments from the Benwood Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Lyndhurst Foundation, City of Chattanooga, Junior League of Chattanooga, Dollar General, the What to Expect Foundation in New York, NY and others, Re:Start was able to build strong, collaborative partnerships in the community that helped assist adults who were trying to move out of poverty. One such resource is the Re:Start scholarship fund, which was started by 14-year-old Aliza Cohen and has now grown into to an adult education program that continues to make a difference in our community today.”

“The Chattanooga community made a significant investment from 2004 to 2012 to help Re:Start build a solid foundation for a program that helps people to navigate an adult education system so they can secure needed credentials for steady employment, which is the key to enabling them to find safe, secure housing, provide food on their table; and live healthy, safe lives,” said Ken Smith, outgoing board president for Re:Start. “We want to express our thanks to the representatives from these organizations for being social entrepreneurs in driving the leadership efforts for adult education reform.  Thanks to their support, Re:Start was able to continue its efforts in leading a community and regional literacy movement”

Re:Start will also recognize three leaders in adult education and family literacy.  Mr. and Mrs. Pete Cooper and family will be honored with the Senator William E. Brock “Visionary Award” that recognizes individuals for seeing what is and what could be.  Mrs. Shawn Kurrelmeier-Lee will be honored with the John C. Stophel “Never-Say-Never Award” for overcoming impossible odds to find unlimited possibilities through innovative literacy efforts in our community.  Taneka Albert, Re:Start’s customer service coordinator and Education Coach, will be recognized with the Aliza L. Cohen “Make A Difference” award for realizing the positive impact and difference one individual can make in the lives of others.  The awards will be presented by previous award winners former UTC Chancellor Roger Brown, First Tennessee’s Hampton Johnston and Re:Start’s Education Director Dr. Rubi Porter. 

As part of the annual meeting, Ms. Hairrell will speak on the changing landscape for the path to obtaining the High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma.  As part of this discussion, she will provide supporters with an update regarding the future outlook for Re:Start and its adult education programs after the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Adult Education (TNDAE) selected Chattanooga State to be the sole adult education provider in Hamilton County, effective July 1, 2013.  After considering its options, the Board recently voted to work the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults to manage its adult education and literacy program, meaning this vital program will continue to help underserved adults navigate pathways towards a HSE diploma, post-secondary education and job skills training credentials.  Since 2005, Re:Start has helped more than 1,000 adults prepare to take and pass the GED test so they can earn a Tennessee HSE diploma. 

Mr. Smith said, “Literacy is the key to breaking the poverty cycle. The impact Re:Start and its volunteers have made since launching this effort is incredible as our efforts to be the leading enabler of literacy and adult education collaborations by 2012 has led to building strong collaborative partnerships for adult education in our community.  While we were disappointed in the state’s decision to reduce funding for adult education, we will not let this decision become a reason to fail our students and look forward to working with the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults to ensure everyone in Hamilton County can find help with preparing for and passing the GED test.”

Mr. Smith also disclosed that Ms. Hairrell will step down as executive director to pursue an opportunity with Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC as the company’s new director of corporate and social responsibility.

“Nine years age when I accepted this challenge, I never dreamed it would change the course of my life’s work. Being exposed to literacy for children through my work with United Way quickly educated me on how to rebrand the need for a HSE diploma. The smartest thing I ever did was hire employees and recruit volunteers who understood how to align the adult education needs of our community with the goals of our funders.  In a short amount of time, we worked with our funders to successfully change how we taught adult literacy.”

Ms. Hairrell said, “I have taken great pride in how Re:Start has always worked with gang members, homeless and those with mental illness and other special needs. The majority of our students where employed, but they lack the necessary credentials to move forward and become a more productive member of the workforce.“

At the conclusion of the meeting, organization officials plan to introduce members of the 2013-2014 Board of Directors. The new Re:Start Board will be led by Danna Bailey of EPB. Under the new Board, Re:Start will continue to lead the community and regional literacy movement but will expand its mission to include Family Literacy as part of a new collaboration that will ensure literacy remains a priority in this community for years to come.

“I would like to thank Lori and the past directors for their leadership and tireless work to address the literacy challenges we have in our community,” said Ms. Bailey. “The new Board will continue to build upon the successes of the past and looks forward to bringing additional support to the literacy efforts in Hamilton County.” 


Drivers Education Program Offers Spring Break Course

The Spring 2016 Drivers Education course will be offered March 28, 29, 30 and 31 at the Public Library Downtown, 1001 Broad St., not at Northgate Mall.  The class will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. each of those four days.  In Spring of 2015, the Tennessee State Legislature made legislative changes to restrict the use of traffic ... (click for more)

Saturation Patrols Scheduled For Super Bowl Weekend

Law enforcement agencies across the Cumberland Plateau Region and Eastern Tennessee, including the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, will be conducting saturation patrols on Saturday and Sunday. The saturations will take place from 3 p.m. on Saturday until 11 p.m. on Sunday. Patrols will take place where alcohol-related crashes and DUI arrests have occurred in the past. Officers ... (click for more)

Arrests Made In Connection With Fire At Brainerd Trophy Shop

Fire investigators Captain Moore and Captain McElvain made two arrests Friday night in connection with the fire at the Brainerd Trophy Shop that occurred  on Friday  morning. Gene Wegg and Pamela McNabb, have been arrested and charged with arson by the Chattanooga Fire Department. The two allegedly broke into the Brainerd Trophy Shop and set fire to the building, ... (click for more)

History Center Not Giving Out Any More Information On Past Spending Details, Current Status, At This Time

The president of the Chattanooga History Center, which has halted plans for a world class history museum near the Aquarium after raising over $10 million, said no other information will be provided at this time. Chattanoogan.com had sought details about prior spending and the salary of former executive director Daryl Black as well as the center's current status. Jo Coke said, ... (click for more)

The City I Used To Know

“They Dead”, the innocent young voice said as tears began streaming from my eyes.  Foolishness that didn’t involve him snatched away his childhood in the blink of an eye.  Why?  Why has my city become known more for gangs and violence than the River Front, Lookout Mountain, and a fun little theme park?  What happened to hot summers at Lake Winnie, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Stick Of Dynamite

You may have seen the Tennessee Legislature jumped on the bandwagon to send “an atomic bomb” to Washington this week. The “bomb” makes Tennessee the fifth state to adopt a Convention of the States Project that will hopefully limit the power and the jurisdiction of federal government. The official wording is “to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power ... (click for more)