Cody Raper, director of innovation for Cleveland City Schools. Photo contributed by Cleveland City Schools.

Cleveland City Schools hires new director of innovation

Russell Dyer, director of schools for Cleveland City Schools, announced earlier this month that Cody Raper will serve as the new director of innovation for the school district.

Raper replaces Andrew Phillips, who left the district for Cleveland Utilities in November. As the Blended Learning and Digital Enhancement (BLADE) facilitator since 2017 at Cleveland Middle School, Raper managed the one-to-one laptop deployment and trained teachers on integrating technology in the classroom, according to a news release.

"Dr. Raper has a passion for education technology. That passion, along with his teaching and leadership experiences, will allow Cleveland City Schools to continue to be one of the most innovative school systems in our state," Dyer said in a statement.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson of neighboring Hamilton County Schools also launched a Department of Choice and Innovation in April and named Jill Levine to oversee it.

Raper previously taught communications at Cleveland Middle School for seven years, was a leadership fellow through the Public Education Foundation Chattanooga program and has served as a district facilitator with the Tennessee Department of Education. He will begin his new position on Jan. 6, 2020.


Hamilton Flourishing to host conversation on education reform

Conservative organization Hamilton Flourishing will host an event called "A Conversation About Education Reform" featuring The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonpartisan, free-market research group, next month.

Recently, Hamilton Flourishing published a report titled "Public School Early Literary Failures: A Denial of Civil Rights," which explores the current state of childhood literacy and potential solutions such as curriculum changes and school choice alternatives to improve literacy rates locally.

The group has recently hosted discussions on the history of homeschooling in Chattanooga and spoken out about controversial professional development training attended by Hamilton County Schools teachers earlier this year.

This talk is a part of Second Tuesday Moot, a monthly series hosted by Hamilton Flourishing as part of its mission to address local civic issues such as employment, family matters, government and local schools, according to a news release.

The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at The Feed Table and Tavern, 201 W. Main St. The event is free and open to the public but attendees are encouraged to RSVP online.

For more information, visit


Cleveland State to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cleveland State Community College will present Dream Weekend 2020 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Jan. 18-20, 2020.

The weekend will include a number of community events in connection with Dream Weekend 2020 and will conclude with a march through Cleveland at 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20.

This will be the first march in memory of Dr. King on M.L. King Day in the city of Cleveland. Cleveland State also plans for this Dream Weekend to become an annual celebration in honor of the slain civil rights leader, according to a news release.

"We are so excited and proud to help celebrate Dr. King's legacy in such a profound way right here in Cleveland," said Willie Thomas, assistant to the president on equity and inclusion at Cleveland State, in a statement. "This is something that we are honored to be able to bring to the people of Cleveland and Bradley County. We simply want everyone to save the dates of Dream Weekend 2020 and hopefully be ready to take part."

For more information, contact Willie Thomas via phone at 423-472-7141 or email to

If you have news about local schools you'd like included in Class Notes, email Meghan Mangrum at