Local Business Leaders Graduate From Leadership Chattanooga, Complete Service Projects

Friday, May 16, 2014

Forty Leadership Chattanooga participants celebrated the completion of a 10-month commitment to leadership development during the Chattanooga Chamber’s Annual Leadership Luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The Leadership Chattanooga program provides comprehensive leadership training through interaction with top community leaders, experiential learning opportunities including a police ride along and a trip to Nashville to meet with state leaders, and service projects at local schools.

Grouped into five teams serving five schools, the 2013-2014 Leadership Chattanooga class completed public education service projects designed to strengthen schools’ relationship with the business community and to support students on many levels - mentoring, encouraging them to think about the future, and providing enrichment activities.

Orchard Knob Middle School:

Orchard Knob Middle School is home to a special population of students with exceptional needs requiring unique care and a modified curriculum. These students - most on the autism spectrum - find the structured environment they need in Orchard Knob's SUCCEED (Students Utilizing Classroom and Community to Enhance Everyday Development) program. SUCCEED boosts autistic students' academic achievement and uses real world challenges to develop career and life skills.

To enhance the effectiveness of SUCCEED, the Orchard Knob team partnered with school personnel to renovate an old vocational education shop into a room of simulation stations. The team cleared and painted the space, worked with school personnel to design a floor plan, secured in-kind donations, and organized simulation stations.

“I think our team members built long term relationships with our school that will extend beyond this project,” said Stratton Tingle, Orchard Knob team member and account executive at the Chattanooga Chamber. “Schools want to utilize local professionals as volunteers and the business community wants to help out, but the two groups often aren’t sure how to engage each other. Leadership Chattanooga makes that connection for them.”

SUCCEED students now enjoy a library, additional computers, office stations to learn about basic office tasks, a laundry station, a recreational area for physical and occupational therapy, and a grocery area to practice shelving, organizing and bagging goods. The repurposed and renovated space enables the SUCCEED program to build students’ independence and prepare them to enter the workforce after high school graduation. Team members included:

Andrew Horton, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Beverly Jerman, Office Furniture Warehouse, LLC

Kevin Lusk, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Britton Stansell, Republic Parking System, Inc.

Anna Steere, Skye Strategies

Stratton Tingle, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Michael Turpin, Volkswagen Chattanooga

Alexis Willis, Natural Beautiful Me 

East Lake Academy of Fine Arts:

The East Lake Academy of Fine Arts team piloted a project using enrichment activities to bridge achievement gaps among East Lake’s multicultural student body. The team partnered with local organizations to provide weekly afterschool programming for East Lake sixth graders, supporting positive student relationships and productive use of students’ time outside of school.

“It was an invaluable experience for our team to promote educational pursuits, cultivate creative talents, and influence positive lifestyle choices while giving working parents peace of mind that their kids are in a safe environment after school,” said  Kevin Smith, East Lake team member and Vice President at SunTrust Bank.

Among the enrichment activities were an exploration of movement activity from Ann Law of Barking Legs, a lesson on how to repair a flat tire from Southeast Youth Corps and a hands-on visual arts workshop facilitated by Susanne Bowling and LAUNCH winner Demetric Bush. Activities were designed to expose students to art and cultural offerings, promote health and wellness and develop meaningful life skills.

This project fostered long-term relationships between East Lake Academy and various community outreach groups. Additional community partners included the Southern Adventist University Film Department, the American Heart Association, Crabtree Farms, Junior Achievement and SunTrust Bank. Team members included:

Katie Downs, Tennessee Valley Authority

Jay Elliott, Miller & Martin, PLLC

Andrée Herbert, Tennessee Aquarium

Amber Mainda, Progressive Health

Jason Martin, Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC

Geovanny Ragsdale, Southern Adventist University

Kevin Smith, SunTrust Bank

Nick Spinelli, Mike Collins and Associates 

Woodmore Elementary:

Woodmore Elementary’s career academy, a program in its second year, is designed to help students explore the relationship between career paths that interest them and the education levels required to enter those fields. Though college seems far away for most elementary school students, those encouraged from a young age are more likely to one day reach their career goals and become the engineers, medical professionals and businesspeople of the future.

 “Our team’s diverse educational and career backgrounds were an asset to the career academy,” said Doug Ehman, Woodmore team member and sustainability manager at Southern Champion Tray. “We were able to use our varied experience as a teaching tool - giving students new career paths to consider and an overall different perspective on education and career than they get from their everyday teachers.”

Students participated in monthly meetings with Woodmore team members during the career academy. Each month, the group addressed a unique topic relevant to future career satisfaction. Topics included dressing for success, the benefits of a college degree and pinpointing careers based on individual strengths and interests. Team members included:

Melinda Bone, BFS Facility Services

Doug Ehman, Southern Champion Tray, LP

Elizabeth Hammitt, EPB

Maggie Hodges, Full Media

Craig Miller, Cohutta Banking Company

Max Poppel, The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel

Daniel Stetson, Hunter Museum of American Art

Malaka Watson, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee 

East Lake Elementary School: 

East Lake Elementary engaged Leadership Chattanooga to launch a program introducing leadership concepts to fourth graders to prepare them for an already established fifth grade leadership course.

The East Lake team conducted two 30-minute sessions per month from October to April during students’ scheduled related arts time. The first half of the course focused on introducing leadership concepts such as perseverance, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and decision making. At the school’s request, the East Lake team incorporated reading and writing activities into the curriculum to boost students’ literacy skills. 

The second half of the course concentrated on developing a school recycling program. The team encouraged students to be good leaders in their school, homes, and community by recycling and urging others to recycle. Over several weeks, students gathered paper in their classrooms for recycling, and a final weigh-in determined the class winner. The course concluded with a guest speaker from the Chattanooga Police Department who discussed how to be a community leader. 

“The kids were always excited to see us, and they were very engaged throughout the project,” said Autumn Jewell, East Lake team member and Comptroller at CARTA. “After our last session, one of our girls gave me a big hug and told me she loved me. In that moment, I felt like we had made a difference." Team members included: 

Kyle Bryant, Lamp Post Group

James Chapman, Change-n-Go

Jay Dale, First Tennessee Bank

Autumn Jewell, CARTA

Tesia Jones, JCC Design Studio

Amanda Kelley, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Russell Moorehead, Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon

Dan Norton, Lawson Winchester Wealth Management 

Soddy Daisy Middle School:

Soddy Daisy Middle School (SDMS) team members implemented a college and career preparation program for targeted SDMS students. The program included four key components designed to make students aware of a variety of career options and their educational requirements, facilitating an educational plan for high school and beyond.

“We wanted to use this program to show the kids that you can be successful regardless of where you’re from,” said Justin Furrow, SDMS team member and attorney at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. “We took our students to UTC and it was so rewarding to see them envision themselves as college students.”

The SDMS program began with a field trip to diverse local organizations including the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Woople and the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Following the kick-off, students participated in various lunch and learn sessions with team members to delve into topics like job searching, salary ranges, and continuing education. A portion of each lunch and learn session was dedicated to guiding student pairs as they created career fair display materials and presentations, with emphasis on student research of the education and credentials required to obtain positions in various fields. The program concluded with a college and career fair including representatives from two colleges, displays from each team member’s company and participation from various local businesses. Team members included:

Tish Calitz, Decosimo

Traci Day, Woople

Justin Furrow, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.

Michael Hutcherson, March Adams & Associates, Inc.

Mark Jones, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Rose Martin, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, African American Museum

Amanda Merideth, Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians

Ryan Rogers, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc.


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