Top 10 Highlights of the 2019-2020 School Year #7 – Office of Innovation and Choice begins with HCS recognized as a global leader in Fab Labs
Posted on 05/13/2020
Photo: Future entrepreneur Ari Shropshire, a student at Dalewood Middle, shares her work in the VW eLab at Dalewood with State Senator Bo Watson.We are reviewing the Top #10 highlights of 2019-2020 as we wind down to the end of a very unusual but successful school year. The highlight at #7 is Hamilton County Schools opening the Office of Innovation and Choice and recognition of the district at a global leader in Fab Labs.

Hamilton County Schools, in partnership with Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, the State of Tennessee, and the Public Education Foundation, celebrated the Fab Foundation recognizing Hamilton County Schools as an international leader in digital fabrication education at a news conference held in September at Dalewood Middle School. The Fab Foundation is a Boston-based non-profit organization that emerged from MIT's Center for Bits & Atoms Fab Lab Program, where students learn how to make virtually anything. The Fab Foundation's leadership team has worked with Hamilton County Schools since 2017 through the Public Education Foundation.

Hamilton County Schools now represents the world's largest concentration of educational Fab Labs in any community, with 17 labs joining the Foundation's Fab Lab Network. The labs include one at STEM School Chattanooga and the 16 Volkswagen eLabs in Hamilton County Schools opened since 2017.

STEM School Chattanooga pioneered the Fab Lab work in Hamilton County Schools when they opened the first lab in the state of Tennessee in 2014. By the summer of 2017, their lab was identified by the Fab Foundation as one of two national models for how to effectively integrate digital fabrication into K-12 schools through the Foundation's SCOPES-DF project. Building on this success, the lab at the STEM school became the model for the development of Volkswagen eLabs in 16 Hamilton County Schools over the next two years. While the labs operate under a model that uniquely fits each school, the common goal is to develop future-ready students prepared to thrive as adaptive, independent problem solvers in any industry.

To accelerate innovation and provide more opportunities for students, Hamilton County Schools launched the Office of Innovation and Choice for the 2019-2020 school year.

"We are committed to providing rich learning experiences for all students," said Jill Levine, chief of Innovation and Choice for the district. "Investments in Fab Labs will pay-off in improved digital literacy skills, greater student engagement, increased personalization of learning, and student ownership of learning."

"Hamilton County Schools' network of fab labs is pioneering 21st-century education in new ways such that Chattanooga's youth are poised to be technology innovators and leaders in the 4th Industrial Revolution," said Sherry Lassiter, president, and CEO of Fab Foundation. "The partner organizations are excited about the pioneering leadership in education happening in Hamilton County Schools with digital fabrication and STEM, as the community believes it is a critical pathway to productive participation in the future of work. The partnership between Hamilton County Schools; Volkswagen, Tennessee; and the Public Education Foundation serves as an exemplary model for how to educate youth for today and tomorrow, and it is exactly the partnership model that we hope to expand around the world."

Top 10 for 2019-2020
#10 – Six new Future Ready Institutes added along with new branded community partners
# 9 – 20 schools receive a grant from Usher and Little Kids Rock
# 8 – Dr. LeAndrea Ware named Tennessee Principal of the Year, and Howard honored by Bill Gates
# 7 - Office of Innovation and Choice begins with HCS recognized as a global leader in Fab Labs



Photo: Future entrepreneur Ari Shropshire, a student at Dalewood Middle, shares her work in the VW eLab at Dalewood with State Senator Bo Watson.