PEF, HCS, HCEA and NEA Foundation host Chattanooga Fabrication Institute

June 15, 2018 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
June 15, 2018 - 200 teachers and leaders from across the United States will gather in Chattanooga June 18-21 for the inaugural Chattanooga Fabrication Institute. The Public Education Foundation (PEF), in partnership with Hamilton County Schools (HCS), the Hamilton County Education Association (HCEA), and The NEA Foundation are hosting this one-of-a-kind professional development experience in the recently established Volkswagen eLabs in Hamilton County Schools. The institute is one of three major initiatives funded by a generous $150,000 grant from The NEA Foundation.

The four day digital fabrication institute offers participants an opportunity to engage in authentic experiences with 3D printing, laser engraving/cutting, vinyl cutting, CNC routing, micro-computing, and much more. The participants will engage with national leaders in STEM education including MIT graduate and STEM Gems author, Stephanie Espy, artificial intelligence expert and founder/creator of Maslo, Ross Ingram, and Senior Vice President of Battelle Education, Dr. Aimee Kennedy. Following morning keynote sessions at the UTC University Center and the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, participants will move to one of five Volkswagen eLabs where they will engage in daily hands-on workshops designed and led by HCS teachers. In this "teachers teaching teachers" model, the facilitators will guide participants through the nuances of how to leverage the state-of-the-art rapid prototyping technology to positively impact how students engage in the classroom. PEF President, Dr. Dan Challener noted, "Visitors are often enamored with the amazing technology deployed in these labs, but when you dig deeper, it is clear that the teachers leading this work are what is truly astonishing."

While the institute centers on integrating advanced technology in classroom experiences for students, the organizers have taken a novel approach by empowering educators to lead the work. "We all know that the most effective way to increase student learning is to improve teaching. And the best way to improve teaching is to support educators. That's why the NEA Foundation's investment in Hamilton County provides educators with the time, support, and training they need to grow and scale existing STEM programs district-wide," added The NEA Foundation President and CEO, Harriet Sanford. "The educator-led initiative is changing the way STEM is taught across grade levels and subject areas in schools across Hamilton County and around the country."

The institute is a strategic effort to expand the impact of the innovative initiatives launched in recent years. The impact of the institute will not only be felt regionally, it also aligns with several goals recently identified by HCS leaders. "Great teachers in our classrooms combined with the opportunities for learning exploration in the Volkswagen eLabs are opening doors for students to new career possibilities that were not even imagined by our generation," said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. "We are excited to share this vital tool to prepare graduates to be future ready and prepared for success after high school."

Volkswagen eLabs have made HCS an international leader in digital fabrication K-12 education. The institute capitalizes on the revolutionary labs by giving HCS teacher leaders a platform to share the amazing work that is impacting their students. "The Chattanooga Fabrication Institute has empowered our teachers to share their unique insights with early adopters across the country and has identified many of our teachers as innovative education experts," noted Michael Stone, PEF Director of Innovative Learning.

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PEF is transforming public education. We are an advocate for the region and Hamilton County Schools and its teachers, leaders, and students. For over 25 years, we have worked in partnership with Hamilton County Schools and provide training, research, and resources to teachers, principals, and schools. Our mission is to increase student achievement so all our students succeed in learning and in life. PEF has helped to bring more than $60 million in supplemental, philanthropic funding to the school system to help achieve that mission. Visit

Hamilton County Schools is a family of traditional schools, magnet schools and specialty programs with educational possibilities to match the interests of every young learner in the Chattanooga community. Hamilton County Schools feature STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), performing arts, visual arts, science, liberal arts, and International Baccalaureate. There are 13 different magnet schools available to match special interests and individual learning styles. There are also excellent traditional elementary, middle and high schools and all have an intense focus on promoting a love of learning and exploration. Learn more at

The Hamilton County Education Association supports public education and educators by advocating for resources and funding that ensure that best practices are utilized for educating the 43,000+ students enrolled in the Hamilton County schools. HCEA believes that every student, no matter his/her zip code, deserves the opportunity to learn and thrive in a great public school that is supported by a community of stakeholders. HCEA is committed to its mission to protect and advocate for students and their teachers as they prepare every student for success in a diverse and interdependent world.

The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Since our beginning in 1969, the Foundation has served as a laboratory of learning, offering funding and other resources to public school educators, their schools, and districts to solve complex teaching and learning challenges. The NEA Foundation invests in educator-led and union-supported STEM programming that increase access to and improve the quality of STEM education in underserved communities. We believe that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit. (Editor's Note: Please use the correct name, the NEA Foundation. It is not the National Education Association Foundation.)

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