The 20 graduates from Project Inspire will begin teaching in Hamilton County Schools for the 2018-2019 academic year. (Photo: Contributed)

Twenty new Hamilton County School teachers were hired after graduating from the local program, Project Inspire.

“Public Education Foundation is incredibly proud of these new teachers beginning their careers in Hamilton County’s high-needs schools and grateful that talented individuals from across the country chose to work with students in our community,” President of the Public Education Foundation Dan Challener said in a prepared statement.

The Project Inspire teacher residency, a partnership between the Public Education Foundation, Hamilton County Schools and Lee University is celebrating the graduation of the 20 new teachers.


During the past year, each teacher earned a Master of Arts in Teaching at Lee University while working alongside a mentor teacher in a high-needs school in Hamilton County.

“We at Lee University have greatly enjoyed working with these students and Hamilton County Schools the past fourteen months,” Dean of Lee University’s College of Education Bill Estes said in a prepared statement.

All 20 Project Inspire graduates were hired by Hamilton County Schools to teach during the 2018-2019 school year.

The majority of the graduates will work in opportunity zone schools.

The graduates include:

  • Barger Academy – Matthew Bradshaw and Kelly Gibson
  • Clifton Hills Elementary – James Cunningham and Rachel Graham
  • Dalewood Middle – Makenzie Vandiver
  • East Lake Elementary – Mary Ann Clelland, Hannah Clem, Whit Miller and Lauren Velo
  • East Ridge High – Hannah Pell and Amanda Akin
  • East Side Elementary – Catherine Casselman
  • Ooltewah Middle – Jennifer Riley
  • Orchard Knob Middle – Owen Bogolin
  • Orchard Knob Elementary – Alexis Wyatt, Jonathan Ramirez, and Shaina Ranjan
  • Red Bank High – Nick Boehm
  • Woodmore Elementary – Emily Hoffman and Mackenzie Eschmann

“I feel immensely happy to be able to teach at Orchard Knob Elementary,” said Jonathan Ramirez, a Project Inspire graduate who is joining the team at Orchard Knob Elementary. “Now I have the opportunity and responsibility to teach my students in the most relevant way and remain committed to the community.”

The Public Education Foundation has been training new teachers since 2011, first through the Teach Here residency, and now through Project Inspire.

Project Inspire aims to provide a pathway for aspiring teachers to earn a degree in education while serving their community and creating a more equitable future for all students.

“Our students deserve teachers who want to be here, and who are committed to being a part of positive change and culture in our schools,” principal of Orchard Knob Elementary LaFrederick Thirkill said in a prepared statement.