Schools

Our public elementary schools are top-ranked in Georgia and Tennessee. So unique, enriching, and good for our children – that we simply think of them as neighborhood schools.

And Covenant College has enriched life on the mountain since 1964, bringing cultural opportunities, liberal arts education, and a community of values-minded students into our community.

Lula Lake Expands Environmental Education Program

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A new school year means hitting the books. But if you’re Holley Roberts, it means hitting the trail. The 31-year-old Americorps VISTA is busy writing outdoor education curricula for Lula Lake Land Trust. While LLLT has always opened its gates for school groups, Roberts’s work will ultimately take it from “cool fieldtrip” to “outdoor science lab.”

We’re trying to make it a more formalized process,” she says. “Right now I’m writing curricula that can be tailored to any program a class wants to do, while also meeting state standards.

Children may dig for plant fossils at the Durham Mine site, scour Rock Creek for macro invertebrates, learn what color flowers butterflies prefer in the pollinator garden, or how to protect the property’s hemlock from the invasive Woolly Adelgid.

The goal is to have the same group of students out to the property two or three times during the school year, and build long-term relationships with teachers so it happens year after year. Since starting in May, Roberts has personally reached out to local public, charter and even home schools. So far the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Charlotte Mason Homeschool Group, Stone Creek Elementary and Heritage High School have signed on.

“We’re trying to reach out as much as we can, but my problem is overextending,” admits Roberts. “We’re still figuring what a program like this can accommodate, but I think ideally we’d like to partner with 7 to 10 schools.”

Lula Lake’s efforts are part of growing movement to take school outside. Several area schools have built outdoor classrooms to incorporate environmental or “place-based” education. Walker County schools recently hosted an Environmental Education Summit that included every school administrator in the system, and Gilbert Elementary in Lafayette is the first public school in the country to launch a forest kindergarten.

I’ve been super impressed with the local reception,” says Roberts, who previously worked in the New Orleans school district. “It’s exciting that both teachers and parents are buying in to the idea that tangible experiences outdoors are good for not only a child’s formal education but also development.

An important piece of the puzzle for LLLT is a partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, who recently sent biologists to inventory the aquatic life of Rock Creek. The synergistic relationship helps both groups with their conservation and educational outreach efforts.

In fact, education and conservation seem inextricably linked for any land trust. People are far less likely to protect a place they don’t love; and it’s difficult to love a place you don’t understand, says Roberts.

We would like more kids to have a Lula Lake story,” says Roberts. “The property already has its own personality or character. It’s not just a patch of woods…it’s that, but so much more. Our goal is to share that as best we can with future generations.

Roberts knows that relationship first hand, growing up in the shadows of the Smoky Mountains. She has worked for the United States Park Service, served in the Peace Corps in West Africa and spent nearly a decade teaching indoors and out in both New Orleans and her hometown of Cookeville, TN.

Robert’s position is a year-long commitment (ending in May) but the program allows Lula Lake to employ a VISTA for 3 years through federal grant money. The ultimate goal would be to hire a full-time environmental education coordinator.

King of the Mountain Road Race

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Have you got what it takes to be King?

The annual King of the Mountain Road Race is set for this Saturday, May 7 at Lookout Mountain’s Town Commons. And while it benefits the scholarship fund of Good Shepherd School, the 4-mile race is anything but child’s play.

The thigh-burning course hugs the edges of Lookout Mountain’s point, traveling East Brow Road to Point Park and back on West Brow Road past Sunset Rock. Expect stiff competition – last year’s top male finisher, Geno Phillips ran it in 21 minutes, 53 seconds, averaging a 5:29 pace.

Last year’s top female, Jessica Marlier zoomed through in 24 minutes and 31 seconds. It was her third win in a row, earning her the indisputable title of “Queen of the Mountain.”

Even if you’re not training for Boston, you can still enjoy this community-wide road race. A 1-mile Fun Run/Walk will feature almost as many strollers as sneakers. Good Shepherd students – all under age 5 – are encouraged to enter. Many “run” before they can walk.

Besides the runner’s high, you can feel good about participating. All proceeds go to GSS’ scholarship fund, which provides tuition assistance for families who otherwise might not be able to attend. As Lookout’s only full-time program for young children, GSS plays an important role in the Lookout Mountain community and beyond.

Ready to run? Enter today

More about Good Shepherd School

The Running of the Pumpkins

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Last year's Spring Sprint, now the Great Pumpkin Chase

This Halloween, Fairyland Elementary School students will do a lot more than running door to door for candy. Before the trick-or-treating begins students will convene on the FES field to participate in the first-ever Great Pumpkin Chase Fun Run.

All month students have been asking their neighbors, family and friends to sponsor them in the 35-lap race. Formerly known as the Spring Sprint, the Pumpkin Chase was moved to the fall to replace the usual fundraiser of magazine sales.

“This year marks the first time in decades that all of the money raised from our events will go directly to the Fairyland Education Fund rather than splitting net sales with a distributor,” explains PTO President Caroline Williams. “We chose to focus our efforts in-house so that we may use every penny to bridge the gap between what Walker County provides in funding and what a Fairyland Elementary education actually costs.”

This year marks the first time in decades that all of the money raised from our events will go directly to the Fairyland Education Fund rather than splitting net sales with a distributor.

This is also the first year that all of the prizes have been donated. Learning Express, High Point Climbing Gym, The Jump Park, Starbucks, Target and Carmike Cinemas are all providing ample motivation as part of a “Gift Card Goodie Bag” to the top seller in each class.

The school’s top pledge earner will take home a $150 gift card to Learning Express, and any child who raises $10 per lap in pledges will win a hummer limo ride down to Mr. T’s pizza. On the first collection day, students brought in $5,400 toward their $15,000 goal.

“It’s been great to see the students’ excitement,” says Teresa Campbell, this year’s event chair along with Susan Gentry. “We’re also really fortunate to have such involved parents who are dedicated to the school and willing to volunteer their time any way they can.”

Campbell encourages friends and neighbors to join parents this Friday for the festivities, which will include music, a live emcee and a fall-themed track filled with hay bales, pumpkins and more. The run will occur in shifts starting at 9 a.m.

The Great Pumpkin Chase Fun Run Schedule

  • 9:00 a.m. – Pre-K, 1st, 2nd grade girls

  • 9:35 a.m. – Pre-K, 1st, 2nd grade boys

  • 11:40 a.m. – 3rd, 4th, 5th grade girls

  • 12:15 p.m. – 3rd, 4th, 5th grade boys

Own a Little Piece of Lookout

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Community. It’s the word people use most when asked why they love living on Lookout. But a picture’s worth a thousand words.

That’s why LMS students have dedicated almost six weeks’ worth of art classes creating community-themed murals on canvas, to be auctioned off during the LMS Carnival on September 23.

Each class has painted their own collaborative masterpiece, representing things like Point Park, Sunset Rock, a Lookout neighborhood, even the Carnival itself. Kindergarteners personalized their painting with fingerprint flowers, while third graders are learning complex concepts like figure drawing and proportion to capture the action of a Commons baseball game.

“We’ve had to combine about three lessons into one each week,” says LMS art teacher Toni Gwaltney. “These kids didn’t even know how to use acrylic paint. We’ve really had to stretch ourselves.”

Of course, stretching is nothing new for Gwaltney, who has expanded the artistic vocabulary of LMS students for more than two decades. Utilizing watercolor, clay, tempera, tissue paper and even “kitchen drawer junk” she has linked Picasso to math, Impressionism to science. She’s even integrated fractions into her lesson plans.

“I regularly ask the other teachers what they’re covering so we can integrate it into art class,” she explains. “Art inspires passion and get kids interested in other subjects – it can help make connections to the real world. I think you have to get emotionally involved in what you’re learning. Otherwise, who cares?”

Art inspires passion and get kids interested in other subjects – it can help make connections to the real world. I think you have to get emotionally involved in what you’re learning. Otherwise, who cares?

The idea for the banners came from Boosterthon Chairman Heather Biebel, who approached Gwaltney last year. The main tag line for Boosterthon this year is “community,” and all teachers try to incorporate it into their lesson plans throughout the year.

The four-foot wide works of art will be displayed at Carnival next week, but you can submit an early bid by emailing lookoutmountainschoolpta@gmail.com (include the amount and name of mural). Early bids will be accepted via email until Monday, September 22 at 9 p.m., or you can bid the day of Carnival. The auction will close at 7:00 p.m. on September 23.

If you can’t manage to get your hands on the real thing, be sure to order commemorative note cards, mugs and magnets featuring images from the different murals. LMS parent Kristi Murray will be taking orders at the Marketplace booth during Carnival, or you can pre-order (click here for an order form).

The money raised from the community banners will directly benefit each LMS student, going toward programs not funded by the state such as science lab, daily PE classes, the Writing to Read program, and of course – art classes.

If that’s not a real-world integration of “community,” I don’t know what is.

To preview the murals or access the order form for note cards, mugs and magnets click here.

Music on the Mountain This Weekend to Benefit Fairyland Elementary School

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This afternoon, kids at the Fairyland Elementary afterschool program will take a robotics class, twirl in ballet, strum a guitar or get help with their homework from a certified teacher. Earlier today, they may have learned algebra on a Promethean board – a state-of-the-art interactive whiteboard – or researched Christopher Columbus on an iPad.

Regardless, you can bet they’ll be ready for end-of-year testing. This past year, every single fifth grader passed the CRCT writing test, including special education and economically disadvantaged students.

Fairyland is the perfect example of what a public school is supposed to be,” says Louisa Hurst, FES parent and chair of Music on the Mountain. “They do a great job of getting to know the student and helping them where they need it.

But this quality of education comes at a hefty price. The school receives no money from the city and is not economically disadvantaged enough to qualify for Title 1 federal funding, so everything in their budget comes from Walker County and whatever the Parent/Teacher Organization can raise.

In the past, the PTO has relied on magazine sales for a fall fundraiser. This year they have something far more interesting planned– the first annual Music on the Mountain. “We wanted something that will engage the entire Lookout Mountain community, not just people who have children at Fairyland,” says Caroline Williams, PTO president and mother of three at FES.

The evening will benefit the PTO’s Fairyland Education Fund, charged with raising $140,000 this year. Each year, the PTO spends roughly $575 per student. Besides Promethean boards and iPads, they have funded extra teachers, a fine arts program, extra supplies for teachers, upgraded physical education equipment, mulch on the playground and more.

“We try to hit every facet of the school,” says Williams. “We can’t expect every parent to give, and not all can give what we may need them to. So we really look to the community and local businesses to supplement that.”

Budget cuts have put even more pressure on the parents. Georgia public schools have been experiencing budget cuts since 2001, including more than a billion dollars last year. Walker County’s budget was cut close to $7 million. “We’re turning the corner,” says Williams. “Governor Deal has given one-third of that money back for this year. But, it is an election year. We still have work to do.”

Enter, Music on the Mountain. The laidback evening celebrates everything great about living on Lookout including Chef Margaret Johnson’s barbeque and bluegrass from the Dismembered Tennesseans. Auction items include a Santa Rosa beach house, club level seats to the Iron Bowl, a 9-week-old Labrador Retriever, Disney Park Hopper Passes and Gurhan Earrings from Amanda Pinson. There’s even a chance to score a golf cart. For $100, you can enter a raffle for a one in 135 chance to win a shiny, apple red cart.

“No matter which state you live in, we are all one community,” says Williams. “We feel like this event will encompass that spirit.”

A special thanks to…

Music on the Mountain Planning Committee:
Louisa Hurst, Chair
Sarah Lehn, Vice Chair
Jennifer Deal, Auction Chair
Caroline Williams, PTO President and Auction Co-Chair
Justin Workman, Auction Co-Chair
Kristy Pressley, PTO Vice President
Melanie Reynolds
Brennan Griffin
Melanie Reynolds
Michelle Workman

Corporate Sponsors:
Mountain View Auto Group
Southern Surgical Arts
The Mountain Girls
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic
Shadowbox Paperie

Fairyland Festival Brings Community Out for 58th Year Running

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For nearly 60 years the Fairyland Festival has been the place to see and be seen for the elementary set. In addition to faux casts and colored hair spray, students plunk down green tickets for horseback rides, bouncy houses, plush animals at the Emporium and springing their friends from “jail.” It’s one of the largest fundraisers for Fairyland Elementary School with nearly 40 booths and more than 100 parent volunteers. Besides current students, the fair hosts plenty of future Fairyland Falcons.

“It’s definitely the highlight of our year,” smiles Carrie Gallant, who hopes her oldest will attend FES pre-K this fall. “When we moved up here and were deciding between Tennessee and Georgia this school was a big factor. Everyone told us how great it was. We really chose to be on this side because of Fairyland.”

“When we moved up here and were deciding between Tennessee and Georgia this school was a big factor. Everyone told us how great it was. We really chose to be on this side because of Fairyland.”

And while the funds raised solely benefit the Georgia school, the festival is equally popular with kids from the Tennessee side. (The favor is returned when Lookout Mountain School hosts their carnival later in the year).

“This is as much a community event as it is a fundraiser,” says Dawn Pettway, this year’s event co-chair. “We support each other, which is important. We’re definitely one community when you step outside of any state border.”

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest perks of living on Lookout is having access to two of the area’s top elementary schools. For many, it’s the main reason for moving to the mountain, particularly for this year’s festival chair, Susan Bevill.

“My husband and I moved up here when I was pregnant with our first 14 years ago,” she says. “Neither one of us is from Lookout – he went to East Ridge; I’m from Hixson. But we were looking for a house and came up here and saw all the little kids running down Rock City Trail with their backpacks. I was like, ‘This is where I want to be.’”

Bevill and Pettway have been working tirelessly on the event since January, hoping to meet this year’s goal of nearly $40,000. One change to this year’s event is separating the silent auction from the festival. (It will be held as part of a Bluegrass and BBQ event this August at the Lookout Mountain Golf Club). Proceeds will go toward the PTO’s budget of $115,000 which pays several salaries and supports enrichment programs.

Schools

Good Shepherd School Day Care to Pre-K
Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church (age 1 year to 5 years)
Fairyland Elementary
Lookout Mountain Elementary
Covenant College