Former Lawyer, PhD In Biochemistry Among New Project Inspire Teacher Residents

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Public Education Foundation has welcomed 23 new Project Inspire teacher residents to Woodmore Elementary for the first step in their new career. Project Inspire, a partnership between the Public Education Foundation, Lee University, and Hamilton County Schools, is a teacher residency program that recruits and trains teachers to work in high need schools in Hamilton County. Project Inspire is also part of the National Center for Teacher Residencies network and part of the AmeriCorps network of programs.

“Project Inspire is a significant talent pipeline providing excellent teachers for our classrooms in Hamilton County Schools,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “The program helps people with content expertise in high need areas and a love for sharing that knowledge with children make a career transition into the classroom.”

This will be Project Inspire’s eighth cohort of teacher residents training in Hamilton County Schools. 

Resident Sarah Stumper interviewed for Project Inspire while working towards a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Brandeis University. Her volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters led to a realization that she loves helping others explore and discover new ideas. 

Resident Jonathan Brown graduated from the University of the South in May of 2018 with a degree in American Studies. Originally from Silver Spring, Md., Mr. Brown was a Posse Foundation Scholarship recipient and held multiple leadership roles while at Sewanee.

Resident Lori Spencer spent most of her life in the Chattanooga area, moving away briefly to attend Washington University School of Law. Ms. Spencer felt something was missing in her legal career and worked as an education assistant in Hamilton County for three years before applying to become a teacher though Project Inspire.

Other residents joining Project Inspire for the 2018-2019 school year include:

Olivia Kane recently graduated from Centre College with a B.S. in Chemistry. During her time at Centre College, Ms. Kane tutored students in multiple capacities. 

Dee Underwood worked as an engineer and an accountant after earning a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Stacey Lubbers has a B.S. in Recreational Therapy from Calvin College and has most recently worked as a WIC peer counselor for the Hamilton County Health Department.

Haley Vannatta earned a B.S. in Liberal Studies from Middle Tennessee State University and worked for two years in Bedford County School Systems.

Melanie Carpenter has a B.S. in Environmental Health from East Tennessee State University and previously worked for Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachia Service Project. 

Ethan Schubert has a B.S. in Athletic Training from the University of Idaho and developed a passion for teaching while training high school athletes. 

Benjamin Sterrett recently graduated from Lee University with a B.S. in Biochemistry.

Nicole Wank earned an M.P.S. in Marine Conservation from the University of Miami and has worked for the Tennessee Aquarium and Friends of the Chicago River.

Cameron Huss recently graduated Bluffton University with a B.S. in Biology.

Amanda Davidson has a B.A. in Advertising and Marketing from Ferris State University and previously worked as an English tutor and human resources coordinator. 

Callie Bader recently graduated from Covenant College with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Stephanie Bautista earned a B.A. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina before teaching English in China for several years. 

Lauren Grillo graduated this May from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a B.A. in English Literature. 

Walker McKenzie recently earned a B.A. in Digital Culture from Arizona State University while working as a teaching assistant for Tempe Public Schools.

Mercedes Johnson graduated from East Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Psychology and worked at Brown Academy and Hixson Elementary. 

Adam Foster has a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and worked at the Tennessee Aquarium and volunteered as a wrestling coach in Dade County. 

Maria Chattin holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Stephens College, and was a theatre instructor for the Baylor School and the Chattanooga Theatre Center.

Alison Campbell has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and owned a graphic design business for more than 15 years. 

Marisa Porter graduated from Lee University with a B.A. in Psychology and directed children’s programs for Cleveland City Schools, City Church of Chattanooga, and St. John United Methodist Church.

Caitlin Morton holds a B.A. in English from Milligan College and has recently worked as a substitute teacher for Hamilton County Schools. 

"We are grateful and excited to welcome this diverse group of talented individuals into the Chattanooga community and the teaching profession,” said Project Inspire Director, Mark Neal. “As a group, we believe that access to great teaching is a fundamental issue of social justice, and we are resolved to cultivating a spirit of wonder and hope for all students. Together, we embrace the possibilities that lie ahead in the residency experience; it will change lives."

This is the second cohort of Project Inspire residents earning a degree from Lee University, where they will attend class through June and July. In August, each resident joins their clinical instructor,  an experienced and highly effective mentor teacher in a high-need school, where they learn to build meaningful relationships with their students, said officials. Throughout the year, they continue studying through monthly seminars and methods coursework taught by some of Hamilton County Schools most respected educators. At the end of the school year, they return to Lee University for two months of coursework, and graduate with a Master of Arts in Teaching. 

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