First-Ever Teacherpreneur Incubator To fund Teachers’ Innovative Proposals

By Tim Omarzu
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

Play-Doh and papier — mâché may be living on borrowed time at Clifton Hills Elementary School.

That’s because students would use 3-D printers to mold miniature mountains, streams and other land forms if Cristol Kapp, a teacher-librarian at the school off Rossville Boulevard, gets her wish.

“I’m going to create a ‘maker space’ for our library,” she said. “We’re looking at doing 3-D printers. We’re looking at doing some things with robotics.”

Kapp is one of 28 educators who will vie for funding during the first-ever Teacherpreneur Incubator, a three-day event to be held the weekend of Aug. 1-3 before school starts.

Roughly $100,000 is available through the Public Education Foundation, Hamilton County Department of Education and Benwood Foundation.

In May, Hamilton County public school teachers submitted 60 proposals to the Teacherpreneur Incubator.

That’s been narrowed down to 28 finalists who’ll hone their proposals over the three days at the Society of Work, a large, open office space geared toward entrepreneurs on the 13th floor of the First Tennessee building downtown.

Other finalist ideas include a smartphone app that would let parents help their children with math homework, a mobile classroom to teach kids the science of kites, and a high school Internet cafe for kids who don’t have Internet at home.

“There’s really some innovative ideas coming from these teachers,” said Keri Randolph, vice president of learning at the Public Education Foundation.
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On Sunday evening, contestants will make their pitches to receive funding from contest judges at a public event at The Church on Main, a venue at 1601 Rossville Ave. in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator is modeled after the Co.Lab 48Hour Launch Model, Randolph said, a weekend-long business startup event held by The Company Lab that’s designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the Chattanooga region.

“This is a very Chattanooga event,” Randolph said. “We can’t find anywhere else that’s doing this.”

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