Class Notes: Chattanooga-area educator named Unsung Tech Hero and other education news – Chattanooga Times Free Press

STEM School Chattanooga teacher Kristen Burrus was named Technology Excellence Awards Unsung Tech Hero of the Year by the Chattanooga Technology Council during its inaugural TechX Awards on Sept. 10.

Burrus is the public school’s digital fabrication ecosystem lead and also instructional lead and director for the Global Center for Digital Innovation, a new state of the art STEM Fab Lab under construction.

STEM Principal Tony Donen called Burrus “an absolute superstar innovator in education,” via a news release.

During a recent meeting, Chief Schools Officer Neelie Parker thanked Burrus for her efforts.

“You are an HCS hero, and we appreciate what you have done to move science, technology, engineering and mathematics along for students,” Parker said to Burrus.


Collegiate High named a Blue Ribbon School

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has recognized Principal Sonja Rich’s Collegiate High at Chattanooga State Community College as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School.

The campus is one of seven Tennessee schools to earn the status, based on student scores and graduation rates.

According to school district officials, Collegiate is among five Hamilton County high schools to have a 100% graduation rate for the 2019-20 school year. Other high schools included in the district’s high graduation rate list are Chattanooga High Center for the Creative Arts, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Hamilton County Virtual School and the STEM School Chattanooga.

Parker said it was an honor to also announce the school received a Path to College designation for this school year in addition to the Blue Ribbon honor.

“It’s very hard to earn that acknowledgement number one, so we celebrate the educators and the students and families there,” Parker added.

Both schools are in District 4, represented by Tiffanie Robinson, who suggested to board members and the community to visit.

“It was an honor to be able to recognize two of the schools in District 4 they’re both very outstanding programs and are gems within our county that so many people are not aware of.”

Western Governors University announces new scholarship aimed at aspiring educators

The Become a Teacher scholarship program offers $2,500 in scholarship funds awarded at $625 per six-month term for up to four terms and an additional $1,500 stipend during student teaching.

In a news release, the university clarified that the funds can be applied toward any of its education degree programs aimed at earning a teaching license.

“Students will benefit from hands-on, in-classroom observation and student teaching experiences at a nearby school during their program. WGU will help arrange the in-classroom experience, an opportunity that our graduates consistently call invaluable in preparing them to lead their own classrooms,” the release states.

In addition to the scholarship, recipients receive a refurbished laptop, complete with a webcam. The scholarship will cover the cost of installing and accessing the internet for students who don’t have it.

To apply visit,


Office Depot gives more than $4,000 to East Brainerd Elementary

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Photo courtesy of Hamilton County Schools/From left: Office Depot general manager Chuck Ayres presents a $4,055.50 check to Jane Phillips, East Brainerd assistant principal, school secretary Kay Jetton and Janie Frick the school’s family partnership specialist

One local retailer donated more than $4,000 to an area campus as part of its “round-up” fundraiser.

Chattanooga-based Office Depot employees and customers raised $4,055.50 for East Brainerd Elementary.

The school was severely damaged by an EF3 tornado that struck Chattanooga on Easter Sunday.

Repair costs were estimated to be at least $18 million. Last month, the school district approved a $5.5 million construction budget increase, making the total reconstruction cost $23.5 million. District officials expect students and teachers to move back into the remodeled school by January 2021.

On Oct. 8, Office Depot General Manager Charles Ayres presented the check to the school’s administration.

Principal Saunya Goss told the Times Free Press the school remains overwhelmingly grateful for the support it received from businesses like Office Depot. She added the funds will address student and staff needs “in anticipation of our return to our school building in January.”

“I am grateful to each of the five Office Depots and their customers for their financial support through the company’s Round It Up program over the past two months. This kind of support not only provides us with funds to support our students and staff, but is also a morale-boosting reminder that our community continues to look out for us. Thank you to Office Depot and its customers for this generous donation and their support of East Brainerd Elementary.”


Chattanooga State medical assisting program accepting applications

The one-year medical assisting program at Chattanooga State’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology is accepting applications for its spring 2021 evening classes.

The program will be offered in a hybrid format at both the main campus and the Kimball site. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants have an expected employment growth rate of 19% over the next 10 years and report a median annual wage of $34,800.

For more information visit

If you have news about local schools you’d like included in Class Notes, email Monique Brand at


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