4th Annual Teacherprenuer Weekend results in funding for Hamilton Teachers

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Public Education Foundation (PEF), Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE), the Benwood Foundation and the Footprint Foundation, in collaboration with CO.LAB and Locals Only Merch, hosted the fourth annual Teacherpreneur 48Hour Launch weekend and Pitch Night on Sunday, July 30, with sixteen Hamilton County public school teacher teams pitching ideas to transform public education.

“It is always a privilege to see the way our community supports innovative educators at Teacherpreneur Pitch Night. We have seen this program blossom over the last four years, with projects taking root in more than half the schools in Hamilton County,” said Dan Challener, President of PEF. “We heard a host of great pitches, and thanks to the generous support of funders like the Benwood and Footprint Foundation, we’ll be able to help at least another twelve teams make their ideas reality.”

The Teacherpreneur Incubator was designed to provide support, time and resources for educators to incubate big ideas and launch them in the best interests of their students, their profession and the Chattanooga community.

A weekend of intense preparation culminated at the Granfalloon on Sunday, July 30, where the sixteen teacher teams pitched for two minutes each to a panel of judges and a crowd of more than 200 community members, with many more watching via EPB’s live stream. Teams competed for up to $10,000 each, with $60,000 in total funding available; in addition, $4000 in prize money was awarded to winning teams. Judges selected the top three projects, and the in-person and online audience voted on a crowd favorite. A total of twelve projects were selected for funding. All sixteen projects will continue to receive support throughout the year from PEF, Causeway, CO.LAB and other community partners.

The first-place winners were Drew Akins and Mary Manning, two teachers from Red Bank High School, who pitched a “Drone Racing League” for Hamilton County. Where robotics clubs were once few and far between, Drew and Mary saw an opportunity for students to develop future-ready workforce skills through drone racing. As the winners, they will also receive legal support from the Chambliss Startup Group.

Instead of awarding second and third place, this year’s panel of judges (CO.LAB Executive Director Marcus Shaw; Very partner Jonathan Bragdon; Attorney Willa Kalaidjian of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel; Teacherpreneur 2.0 winner and Normal Park special education teacher Sarah Clardy; and Melanie Silva, VP of Sales at Smart Furniture and trustee for the UNFoundation) felt two runners up were deserving of equal recognition. Dan Basler, of Lookout Valley Middle/High School, received the nod for his “Allstar Math Fitness Cards.” Combining challenging math problems with physical activity, his product allows students to engage their brains and bodies at the same time. Student-tested and -approved, the Fitness Cards link movement, cognition and, most importantly, fun.

“The Restorative Practice Model School,” pitched by Tyner Academy’s Genise Fletcher and Big Ridge and Soddy Elementary counselor Lisa Blakely, was the second co-runner up, as well as the crowd favorite. An idea they originally conceived as PEF Policy Fellows, Genise and Lisa want to train a school in trauma-informed and restorative methods, limiting suspensions, building relationships with students and allowing those who need school most to stay in class.

In addition to the top three teams, the following nine projects were selected to receive proof-of-concept funding between $1500 and $7500:
Beth Wilson, Red Bank Elementary School: iGen Classroom, which brings elementary students and seniors in long-term care together with music, art and technology
Colby Williams, East Hamilton High School: Geoclassing, a geocaching application for teaching English and literature
Danielle Morgan Hooper, The Howard School & Central and East Ridge High Schools: Field Trips Made Easy, a web application simplifying managing students on fields trips
Magan Lampard, Wolftever Creek Elementary School and Sue Williamson, STEM School Chattanooga: Microcredentialing, a professional development platform allowing educators to learn and earn credentials on their own time
Matthew Craig, Red Bank Middle and High School: Shrunken History, an idea leveraging next-generation LOwLAtency technology and digitally connecting classrooms through local history, art and performance
Mendi Catlett, Harrison Elementary School: Creation Lab, a makerspace focused on creative design for elementary students
Olivia Bagby, Red Bank High School: TechGrows: Next Gen Gardening, an advanced hydroponic school garden solution
Shannon Seigle, STEM School Chattanooga: 4D Collaborative, developing virtual-reality and 4K classroom content with students and educators across Hamilton County
Tara Tharp, Signal Mountain Middle/High School: YOURyearbook, an application personalizing and simplifying the yearbook creation process

For more information visit teacherpreneurcha.com

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Brittney is the Digital Asset Manager of Chattanooga Magazine.

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