Michael Caraccio, a teacher from Sale Creek Middle/High School, hugs Maeghan Jones, the president of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, after she announces that Caraccio won the largest money prize during the Public Education Foundation Teaherpreneur Incubator Pitch Night Sunday, October 21, 2018 at the Chattanooga Whiskey Event Hall in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Caraccio's project, Tiny Curriculum...Big Impact, won both the first place prize chosen by judges as well as the crowd favorite prize.

An initiative to jump-start recycling programs in Opportunity Zone schools.

Local restaurant chefs engaging with DuPont Elementary students in their culinary lab.

Art circles bringing together community members for projects such as "Makings and Milkshakes" or "Strokes and Slurpees."

A Guinness World Record-breaking coding event for women and girls.


1. Student Driven: Chris Seanard, Dalewood Middle

2. O-Zone: Kristina Williams, Brainerd High

3. Math-a-Torium: Jessica Hoover, Hixson Elementary

4. TNcodeHUB: Maureen Clark, Sody-Daisy High

5. Cooking Up Learning!: Tarah Kemp, DuPont Elementary

6. B.E.A.S.T. Club: Susan Morrison, Tyner Academy; Laurie Clifton, Comelia Franceschi, Karen West, CSLA

7. HCS Community Magazine: Tyler Roberson, Soddy-Daisy Middle

8. Fitness for Focus 360: Audrey Pulse, Wallace A. Smith Elementary

9. The Local Art Circle: Sherry Heinz, The Howard School

10. Teach Like a Boss: Chelsie Durham and Lauren Swanson, Lakeside Academy

11. My Voice: Erika Martin, East Brainerd Elementary

12. Tiny Curriculum…Big Impact: Michael Caraccio, Sale Creek Middle/High School

13. Physics EDU: Marcie William, Ooltewah High

14. The Putt-Putt Project: Tad Russell, Soddy-Daisy Middle

15. Kleen-White: Sam Martin, Red Bank Middle

16. Gig City Girls: Michelle Bettis, East Hamilton School; Nikki Russell, Orchard Knob Elementary; and Stephanie Montgomery, STEM School

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Sam Martin, a Red Bank Middle School teacher, presents his Kleen-Write idea during the Public Education Foundation Teaherpreneur Incubator Pitch Night Sunday, October 21, 2018 at the Chattanooga Whiskey Event Hall in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kleen-Write is a device that cleans students' pencils and pens after they have used them to keep others from getting sick.

These are a few of the 16 ideas that 22 Hamilton County educators pitched at the fifth annual Teacherpreneur Pitch Night Sunday.

The Teacherpreneur Incubator is an innovative initiative led by the Public Education Foundation in partnership with Hamilton County Schools that helps support educators with big ideas. This year, while also recognizing its 100th teacherpreneur, the initiative kicks off Start-up Week Chattanooga.

"We are excited to see Teacherpreneur come full circle," said Michael Stone, the foundation's director of innovative learning. "It was inspired by the thriving entrepreneurial community in Chattanooga, and now will have the opportunity to showcase teachers who have embraced an entrepreneurial mindset to problem solving while kicking off a week that celebrates the incredible work in our startup community."

Three winners walked away from Sunday's Pitch Night with cash awards ranging from $750 to $1,500, and another two were awarded the Crowd's Favorite honor and funding and support from The Enterprise Center.

Michael Caraccio of Sale Creek Middle/High School's project, Tiny Curriculum Big Impact, walked away with the night's biggest awards.

His project attempts to combat the nearly 40 percent of students who are "chronically disengaged" — about 18,000 Hamilton County students — by enlisting students in a hands-on building project to build a tiny house.

"Imagine a classroom of engaged students who are providing affordable homes for the community," Caraccio said during his lightning round pitch to five judges — Matthew Craig, a former teacherpreneur from Red Bank High School; Allan Davis, co-founder and partner of the Lamp Post Group; Blake Freeman, the Future Ready Institute director of Hamilton County Schools; Maeghan Jones, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga; and Darian Scott, outreach coordinator for the Chattanooga Chamber.

Caraccio's project also won a $500 cash prize after it was selected as the crowd's favorite.

The B.E.A.S.T. club idea, presented by Susan Morrison of Tyner Academy and Laurie Clifton, Comelia Franceschi and Karen West of the Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts, won second place with its idea to bring students from across the "two Chattanoogas" together to build community, connection and tolerance.

The initiative was piloted during the 2017-2018 school year with students at Tyner Academy and Signal Mountain Middle/High School, and each school hosted an exchange day.

"We know our students really crave this experience," the presenters said. "It takes a beast to fight a monster like intolerance."

"It is important that we support the entrepreneurial spirit in teachers, as they are the foundation for fostering a creative spirit in our children," CO.LAB CEO Marcus Shaw said in a statement. "CO.LAB is proud to support this initiative to build stronger public school systems."

Many well-known creative projects in Hamilton County, such as Brittany Harris and Colleen Ryan's The Passage, a mobile learning bus that earlier this year was featured on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," are products of the Teacherpreneur Incubator.

A cross-generational classroom at Red Bank Elementary School in partnership with the Red Bank Life Care Center, a restorative justice program at East Lake Academy and a drone racing program are all also results of previous pitch nights.

"We know Hamilton County Schools [has] amazing teachers doing amazing things in every classroom, in every school, every day," Stone said. "Every day they make impacts that are meaningful, impactful and innovative."

PEF President Dan Challener added that two things are very clear about teachers: "how committed they are" and "how much they desire the respect and support of their communities."

"The country and the world would be a better place with more people who are committed to supporting teachers," Challener said.

Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.