PEF Announces 2024 Fund For Teachers Fellows

  • Thursday, April 18, 2024

For the 13th consecutive year, local public-school teachers have earned grants for self-designed summer fellowships that they will use to enrich the knowledge of their students. The grants are made possible by the national non-profit Fund for Teachers and its partnership with Public Education Foundation.

“Congratulations to the seventeen local public-school teachers who won a 2024 Fund for Teachers Fellowship!”, said Dan Challener, president of Public Education Foundation. “We know that students benefit when their teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach; these grants give our teachers the opportunity to become true experts. At a time when teacher morale is especially precarious, PEF is deeply grateful to Fund for Teachers for these fellowships.”

Fund for Teachers awarded over $77,401 in grants to teachers from Hamilton County and Bradley County this year. This past fall, all local public-school teachers were invited to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 for a fellowship for an individual teacher and up to $10,000 for a grant for a team of teachers.

The 2024 cohort of Fund for Teacher fellowship winners includes:

Sara Zane of Tyner Middle and Julieta Goode of Hunter Middle will attend the International Society of Technology and Education (ISTE) in Denver, CO, to gain expertise in Computer Science integration across all content areas and bring back tools designed to help students become more proficient in computational thinking across the curriculum.

Chad Burnett of Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts will explore the people and pieces comprising New York City’s art galleries, particularly those in the Chelsea Art District, to deepen personal knowledge of art making skills, create a series of 'stories' about people working in the world of visual arts, and bring current artistic trends into the classroom.

Rita Schubert and Michele Pesce of East Ridge Elementary will journey through the southern regions of France on a guided bike and boat tour and participate in the Agen Workshop focused on Comprehensible Input Methods for language acquisition to create engaging and meaningful lessons that support students’ linguistic development and academic growth.

Jamie Kerns of Lookout Valley Middle/High School will undertake a journey through Morocco and the Canary Islands to immerse in their cultures and languages. This experience will include visits to historic sites, UNESCO biospheres, national parks, and participation in an intensive language course combined with a homestay. The purpose of this trip is to enhance his personal understanding of how these cultures and languages shape the Hispanic heritage that is common among an increasing number of his students.

Catherine Cox and Sydney Parton of Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts will explore the untouched beauty of Banff and Jasper National Parks in the Canadian Rockies to heighten personal understanding of the mental and physical health benefits of exploring nature. They will create a school hiking club that incorporates mindfulness, creative writing, and wellness education.

Jennifer Ellis of STEM School Chattanooga and Jami Thomason of Ocoee Middle will observe some of the world’s leading conservation programs in the United Kingdom to create custom conservation PBLs for student implementation that demonstrate how ecosystems worldwide are affected by environmental and human influences.

Abigail Klett of Chattanooga Preparatory and Susannah Jacobs of Thrasher Elementary will travel across Italy to study the art and design techniques originating from the Renaissance period. Their goal is to understand how innovation and design during that era can foster empathy. They plan to incorporate this understanding into new project-based learning lessons.

Melanie Carpenter of East Ridge Middle will research the successful and ambitious

mental health modalities practiced in Barcelona, specifically for young people, and also meet with Liderazgo en Accion, an organization that helps immigrants integrate into society, to better meet students’ social and academic needs.

Rowena Williams of The Howard School will live with the families of students who have migrated from the mountain regions of Huehuetenango and San Marcos in Guatemala. She aims to gain a deep understanding of their experiences and cultural background. This insight will be used to develop new educational content that celebrates students’ culture and addresses the challenges they face, such as trauma, depression, and homesickness. This effort is designed to help these students better cope with the stresses of school, work, and extracurricular activities.

Kimberly O’Brien of Clifton Hills Elementary will engage in a cultural and linguistic immersion program based in Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica, and volunteer with CEDCAS, an organization dedicated to empowering families through education and medical support, to build strategies and competencies for meeting the academic, social- emotional, and linguistic development needs of newcomer students experiencing trauma associated with emigration.

Alison Redfoot of Normal Park Museum Magnet School will explore the American Revolution from the perspective of a woman who lived through it. She plans to visit key historical sites in Washington D.C. and Boston to conduct her research. The goal is to guide her students towards understanding how perspective shapes one's thoughts and actions, thereby fostering a more nuanced view of history.

Lora Taylor of Tyner Middle Academy will attend the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, ME, to discover exciting new ways to merge art and 21st-century technology in her school’s VW eLab. Her goal is to prepare students for the ever- evolving, technology-driven world while nurturing their self-expression through art.

“A curious teacher who recognizes students’ learning gaps, honors their lived experiences, and actively seeks innovative solutions will change the lives of those students and their families,” said Karen Eckhoff, Fund for Teachers’ executive director. “Our Fellows are models of what can happen when teachers are respected professionals and valued as agents of change.”

As a regional partner with Fund for Teachers, PEF provides targeted support for HCS teachers throughout the rigorous application process. This support has helped over 200 HCS teachers earn Fund for Teachers awards and pursue these enriching learning experiences around the globe. The personalized learning model invests directly in veteran teachers as they design and participate in unique professional learning during their travels. Following the summer fellowship, Fellows return to Hamilton County schools and develop lessons that are informed by what was learned during the Fellowship.

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