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Geoff Millener
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Geoff Millener

Thanks in part to Geoff Millener, fourth-graders can watch the Tennessee Aquarium's sharks, sea turtles and saltwater reef fish all day in real-time on 4K ultra-high-definition TV in Masey Stubblefield's classroom at Red Bank Elementary School.

And seventh-graders in Kristin Burrus' class at the Chattanooga School of Arts and Sciences can view the aquarium's jellyfish on a 4K TV there.

"It can be incredibly calming. They're always there," says Millener, who helped set up the classrooms' live feed from the aquarium.

"In some ways, they're the best class pets you could imagine," he said. "As students study animal adaptations, habitats and the like, it gives teachers an opportunity to have students observe and report on a reef full of subjects."

Millener, 28, recently was honored by the Mozilla Network, an offshoot of the company that created the Firefox Internet browser, as a Network 50 inductee, or one of "50 People Who Made the Internet a Better Place in 2016."

Millener grew up in Chattanooga, and he has held a variety of tech jobs here. He helped young people learn 3-D printing on the fourth floor of the downtown Chattanooga Public Library.

Millener was a program manager at DevDev, a "summer of coding" program that teaches high school students HTML (HyperText Markup Language) the most basic building block of the Internet, graphic design and 3-D modeling. His current job title is innovation and technology programs manager at the Public Education Foundation.

What unites his work, Millener said in a blog post as a Network 50 inductee "is a focus on educator voice and leadership."

"He really puts teachers at the heart of all the work he does," says Lindsey Frost Dodson, program director for Mozilla's gig and smart city initiatives.

The Internet is an "ecosystem," according to Mozilla, and its health depends on such factors as digital inclusion, or equal opportunity for access so anyone can use the Internet to improve their life and society.

"For me, Internet health depends on lots of participation through lots of different demographics," Millener says. "You can use this machine to create things, you can use it to tell you story, you can use it to apply for jobs."

While Millener is an evangelist for technology, he studied English and Spanish, including at the Universidad de Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain.

"I sort of ended up in tech, because I took a little bit of computer science and I grew up using things," he says.

Millener was modest about making Mozilla's Network 50 list, saying that everything he did here was in partnership with other people and organizations.

"It's all in partnership. Chattanooga works in partnership," Millener said.

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