Staff photo by Mike Pare / Susan Harris, See Rock City's president, talks with Howard School students about the See Rock City Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Updated at 4:57 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, with more information.

See Rock City is making a five-year, $250,000 pledge to The Howard School's future ready institute in hospitality.

The See Rock City Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Howard will provide a significant financial contribution and in-kind commitments for field trips, job shadowing, faculty touring, advisory roles and preferential part-time job availability for students, officials said Tuesday.

More Info

Future Ready Institutes:

* Brainerd High

Institute of Law, First Responders and Forensic Science

Institute of Aviation

Institute of Entrepreneurship

* Central High

Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics

Institute of Architecture and Engineering Design

* East Hamilton Middle/High

Bryan College Institute of Leadership, Business, and Marketing

Institute of Innovate Engineering

* East Ridge High

Institute of Engineering and Design

Institute of Building Construction

Institute of Leadership

* Hixson High

Institute of Integrative Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Institute of Health Careers and Medical Advancement

Institute of Business Leaders and Owners

* The Howard School

Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation

See Rock City Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Institute of Robotics and Welding

Institute of Architecture and Construction

* Lookout Valley Middle/High

Institute of Technology and Multimedia

Institute of Automotive Maintenance and Manufacturing

* Ooltewah High

Institute of Architecture and Engineering Design

Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics

* Red Bank High

BlueCross Technology Academy

* Sequoyah High

Institute of Industrial Manufacturing

* Soddy Daisy High

Institute of Media and Entrepreneurship

* Tyner Academy

EPB Institute of Technology and Networking

UTC Institute of Teaching and Learning

Institute of Health Sciences

Source: Hamilton County Schools


"We want to be invested in our community," said See Rock City President and Chief Operating Officer Susan Harris at a news conference at the Lookout Mountain attraction before about 50 students involved in the program that began at Howard this school year.

Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, said such partnerships "take us to the next level."

He told the ninth grade students that the institute is teaching them a skill — customer service — that they can take with them whether they continue in hospitality or move onto another field.

"Regardless of what industry you go into, the reality is that it's about how well you can serve," Johnson said.

Harris, noting that See Rock City is marking its 87th year, said that tourism is a major economic driver in the region and provides both first jobs and careers for thousands of people in the area.

"With chefs, artists, accountants, marketers, maintenance technicians, horticulture specialists and professionals in guest service, event production and leadership, our team is eager to connect with the students and teachers at Howard," she said.

Howard Principal Dr. LeAndrea Ware said the partnership with See Rock City is "another huge victory for students and faculty" at the school. She termed the pledge "beyond measurable."

"It will help you be the best you can be at Howard School," Ware told the students.

Keith Sanford, the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau chairman, said he has heard from members that it's tough finding enough workers to meet demand.

"A lot of young people get their first job in hospitality," said the head of the Tennessee Aquarium.

The future ready institute at Howard is expected to grow next year when it includes ninth and tenth graders, with an estimated 85 to 90 students already signed up, officials said.

Johnson said the Howard institute is the first in the school system that focuses just on hospitality and tourism management.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, travel industry jobs lead to higher wages in comparison to those whose first jobs were in manufacturing, health care and most other industries. More than four in 10 workers get their start in travel and tourism, the association said.

Howard also offers the Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation. The school will add the Institute of Robotics and Welding and the Institute of Architecture and Construction for the 2019-2020 school year.

Future ready institutes offer a career themed-based education through smaller learning communities.

See Rock City also owns and operates the Battles for Chattanooga museum, RiverView Inn, Grandview Conference Center on Lookout Mountain, as well as three Clumpies Ice Cream locations in Chattanooga and the Blowing Springs Farm in Flintstone, Georgia.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.