Ted and Kelly Alling Help Open Groundbreaking New School for Boys
When Chattanooga Prep opens its doors next year, it will boast state-of-the-art classrooms and STEM learning through things like robotics and computer coding. Each student will be paired with a mentor from the business community, and there will be a weekly speaker series featuring national names.
While it might sound like the brainchild of a seasoned educator, Chattanooga Prep has something much more valuable backing it – Ted and Kelly Alling.
Sitting at the Lamp Post offices, Kelly pulls out an aerial map to show where the medical clinic, food pantry and cafetorium (cafeteria/auditorium) will be. Never ones to waste time, the Allings hired an architect long before their charter status was confirmed.
Ted and I are very action-oriented,” laughs Kelly. “Everybody’s got their gift…this is our gift. We’re going to make it happen.
Known for the string of successful businesses Ted has helped launch over the years, the dynamic couple has an equally strong reputation of giving back. Chattanooga Prep provides the perfect opportunity for the Allings to “go deep” and get involved in a project together, says Ted.
We are not educators, but part of my success in the business world came from putting people in place that are better than me,” he adds humbly.
Known for bringing talent to our city, the Allings are committed to finding the best principal in the country. Teachers will be recruited from a nationwide search from top schools. Just as Ted helped build the Tomorrow Building in Chattanooga’s innovation district, he envisions providing subsidized living for teachers in the downtown area.
Derwin Sisnett, founder of Maslow Development Inc., has also been brought on as a consultant. The 32-year-old has successfully started 6 high-performing charter schools in the Memphis area, and founded a nonprofit dedicated to helping other cities build community around strong schools.
CGLA’s Executive Director Elaine Swafford has been heavily involved as well, walking the new school through the intense charter application process. Once Chattanooga Prep opens, Swafford will serve as “CEO of both schools,” says Ted.
The concept for an all-boys school was born out of the Highland Park community. After seeing the success of CGLA the past 7 years, parents have been asking for an option for their sons. From the beginning the Allings have been dialed into local needs, knocking on doors and holding neighborhood meetings.
It’s not what we think; we want to know what the parents want and build this school around that,” explains Kelly. “We want to come alongside them and help however we can.
According to Ted, 90 percent of problems in schools are attributed to boys. Traditional schools are geared more toward girls, with boys often getting lost in the shuffle – a trend that’s multiplied in lower income districts. As parents of two young sons, the Allings feel like Chattanooga Prep is the perfect way for them to help inspire a future generation of men.
We’re not going to fix the problems,” adds Ted. “We want to give the boys the tools and the opportunity to fix the problems themselves. We chose the Sentinel as a mascot because that’s how we see these boys – guarding their family, community, school mates, brothers. We want them to take charge of the next generation of their community.
To that end, there will be a strong emphasis on teaching leadership skills. They’re shooting for the sky with the guest list of their weekly speaker series, envisioning such prominent names as Nick Saban, Gary Vaynerchuck and even President Obama.
“Some kid is going to hear one thing in 7th grade and it’s going to stick with him for the rest of life,” says Ted.
Chattanooga Prep plans to open doors August 2018, starting with sixth grade and adding a grade each year, ultimately serving grades 6-12. As a public charter school, the county will provide $7,800 per student. The actual costs will be closer to $11,000 per student, with the difference covered by fundraising.
The Allings are in the midst of an active capital campaign for the school with a little over $8 million raised thus far of the needed $12 million, which sets the school up for success for the next 15 years.