Lessons Learned from Chattanooga

Innovative Educator Fellows from Southwestern PA report back from a four-day peer learning intensive

In July, members of Remake Learning’s rural communities affinity group traveled to Chattanooga, TN for participation in the Public Education Foundation’s 2nd cohort of Innovation Educator Fellowship.

Supported by the Grable Foundation, the four-day Summer Institute ignited innovation within the educators of Hamilton County Schools (Tennessee) and the leaders of Southwestern Pennsylvania through inspirational keynote speakers, educational leadership building sessions, and innovative initiative development.

After returning home, and gearing up to begin implementing their innovative initiatives for the 2022-2023 school year, the rural members had a chance to reflect on their takeaways from this trip.

Ed Zelich, Superintendent at Charleroi Area School District
“The Innovative Educator Fellowship caused me to shift how we think about our relationships with students and how our district can become more innovative towards creating career pathways to in-demand careers that suit their talents and interests.”

Fred Morecraft, Superintendent at Carmichaels Area School District
“It was an incredible experience to connect with educators from the Tennessee region in the Innovative  Educator Fellowship in order to help us become transformational leaders that will push our school districts to new heights.  The partnerships developed have not only helped to affirm and share the amazing things happening in our home districts, but it has helped us to step back, and take in the opportunities to learn new ideas from an innovative educational system in Chattanooga. ”

Nichole Morecraft, STEAM Teacher at Carmichaels Area School District
“After Reflecting on the week of innovation, I really latched onto the premise that sometimes as educators we forget that our students have the ability to rise as leaders. To see this shift,  we have to remember to give them ample opportunities to be successful through PBL learning and carefully cultivated relationships, this allows students to take ownership of their own learning.

Alyssa Moore, Remake Learning Rural Outreach Coordinator
“Supporting our rural educators at the Innovative Educator Fellowship Summer Institute reinforced for me the value of building positive, genuine relationships and networking.  We had insightful conversations with the teacher leaders of Hamilton County and the Public Education Foundation and were able to build meaningful connections that I can not wait to continue to learn from and with.”

Dr. Beth Hutson, Assistant Superintendent at Brownsville Area School District
“The Innovative Educator Fellowship challenged us to think beyond what substantiates sound initiatives to also consider “what shortcomings exist” with innovative ideas. Even well-thought-out plans with virtuous intentions may address the needs of certain constituents at an unintentional expense to others; lack important vantage points on benefits and ramifications; or present pragmatic implementation issues that detract from the value of initiatives.  The four days spent in thoughtful deliberation on the Future of Learning in America’s Public Schools was a worthwhile investment of time that left a profound and lasting impact on my leadership competencies.”

The opportunity to join a fellowship of innovative educators rejuvenated our excitement for the upcoming school year.  We left this experience ready to begin implementing plans within our rural districts to increase our student engagement and achievement and look forward to continue building on these relationships.