Get to Know the Finalists for the 2018 Education Innovator Award

Constant innovation and ingenuity are crucial components to maintaining and growing our community’s economic strength. Employers are seeking candidates who not only have the qualifications and education to meet job needs, but who can think critically, work well with others, and come up with creative solutions to problems in the workplace. That is why it is so important that we embrace learning techniques and environments that support the development of these soft skills to build a talent pipeline to local industry.

In August, Chattanooga 2.0 along with the Chattanooga Area Chamber’s Spirit of Innovation Committee announced the inaugural Education Innovator Award to recognize teachers in Hamilton County Schools who are focused on innovative ways to help our students learn and prepare for their future. The response was overwhelming, with 20 quality applications from teachers doing amazing work to bring creativity and innovation to the classroom.

The three finalists represent the very best of the work our teachers are doing every day to inspire and motivate Hamilton County’s next industry leaders:

  • Teachers at Dalewood Middle School, led by Volkswagen eLab Specialist Chris Seanard, have embraced the installation of the VW eLab in their school by creating multi-disciplinary programs focused on design and fabrication, problem solving, and entrepreneurship. Students have worked on various projects, from building model cars to creating a business that designs, manufactures, and sells t-shirts. By implementing the multi-use model with their VW eLab, Dalewood Middle School teachers are providing learning opportunities outside of typical school classroom constraints and teaching them critical life skills in problem-solving, collaboration, and leadership along with academic core content.


  • STEM School Chattanooga’s Dr. Tony Donen and David Wilson, in partnership with Co.Lab, Launch Chattanooga, Bridge Innovate, PEF Teacherpreneur, and Lemelson-MIT, brought the first-ever business pitch competition to Hamilton County Schools. SURGE is an invitational pitch competition and open to all Hamilton County Schools students. Participants are challenged to solve a real problem through creating a product or service, building a business plan, and pitching their ideas to local venture capitalists and entrepreneurs for a chance to win cash prizes and internships.


  • The Passage is a classroom on the move, literally. The Passage travels across Chattanooga on a bus with teachers in order to empower and engage parents in supporting their students’ academic achievement. Parents and students learn side-by-side, spending 30 minutes per session for 4 weeks on subject areas like science or math.


We are proud of the quality of work our teachers are doing in Hamilton County, particularly their innovative solutions to education and developing our talent pipelines. Chattanooga 2.0 will highlight the work of these finalists and present the 2018 Education Innovator Award at the Spirit of Innovation Awards luncheon on Wednesday, October 24th.

Find out more about the competition and all of the entries here.

Look to our website, Facebook, and Twitter to find out which project will take the award and celebrate innovation with us!


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