In 2016 local couple, Ted and Kelly Alling, decided to make a lasting impact on Chattanooga by extending diverse academic opportunities to the underserved young men of the city’s urban core. The idea came to them after they toured Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy and thought how incredible it would be if boys and their families had a similar school.
The couple put their plan into motion by convening a visionary group of educational leaders and innovators in April 2016 and one year later the Hamilton County Board of Education approved Chattanooga Preparatory School (Chattanooga Prep).
Dr. Elaine Swafford is the chief executive officer overseeing both CGLA and Chattanooga Prep and Tim Gerrish will become Chattanooga Prep’s founding principal.
Inspired by other schools around the country, the Chattanooga 300 will be hosted on the first day of school to motivate students and get them excited for the year ahead. The goal of the event is to get 300 men from the community in Highland Park on Aug. 2, cheering as the young men walk in for their first day. While similar events have been hosted, the Chattanooga 300 is unique to this community.
The idea came to Chatoris Jones, Chattanooga Prep’s dean of Faculty and Students, while working one day. “Most schools invite 100 men to welcome their students on the first day, but we want to go big and make it 300,” said Mr. Jones. “It will be incredibly powerful to have 300 men representing various professions greeting the boys on the first day of school.”
The event is free and all men are encouraged to grab a friend and attend.
Chattanooga Prep has been designed to remove specific barriers that negatively impact young men from the urban core, said officials. The school will offer a comprehensive, college preparatory curriculum centered around themes of innovation and leadership development. These themes will be woven through daily coursework in literacy and communication, science, technology, engineering, the arts, mathematics, and social/cultural studies. Additionally, the school will take a Project Based Learning approach to education to foster deeper learning competencies required for success in college and careers, said officials.
Chattanooga Prep is in the heart of Highland Park and is the only all-boys public-school option in the community. The school will welcome its first class of 60 sixth graders on Aug. 2 and will grow to serve 350 at-risk students in grades 6- 12 over the next seven years.
The charter’s founders, faculty, and staff have been driven by the mission to engage young men in a rigorous yet supportive learning environment and determined to build an expansive community of supporters. Officials said the group has seen quite a bit of success in their attempt, from gifts and fundraising support to more than 60 community members signing up to mentor incoming students. Now, just weeks away from welcoming its first class, Chattanooga Prep is hoping to engage its current and, potentially, new supporters in a different way with the Chattanooga 300.
For information on how to join Chattanooga Prep’s community of supporters please contact the
Development Office at 468-4105.