Educational Opportunities


Area officials stand in the auditorium after announcing that each third-grade student at Harrison Elementary will receive a personal iPad next year. From left are Miranda Perez with D9, Matt Johnson of UnifiEd, Hamilton County School Board member Steve Highlander, Dean Moorehouse of D9, Hamilton County Commissioner Chester Bankston, Kelly Zeliski with D9 and Principal Wendy Jung.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

D9 recently gave a $41,600 grant to Harrison Elementary to supply iPads for 75 third graders.

Next year, 75 third-grade students at Harrison Elementary School will be able to chat with teachers after school hours, check out library books from home, complete tutorials to get ahead and share virtual notes between their parents and teachers.

All this is thanks to the new iPad each student will receive — and be able to take home all year — made possible by nonprofits D9 and UnifiEd. The organizations made the surprise announcement to students and teachers at the school last week, after raising the necessary $40,000 through partial grant funding and donations.

“It is just so critical that students are able to read on grade level by third grade,” said Harrison Principal Wendy Jung. “We are just so thrilled.”

iPads may not seem like the game changer needed for a third-grade class, but teachers at Harrison know all too well how difficult communication, both with students and their parents, can otherwise be.

Students who don’t have a ride home if they stay after class for tutoring, for example, will be able to utilize virtual Skype tutoring sessions with their teachers during approved times. Teachers will be able to send virtual notes for parents to read, rather than a piece of paper that can be misplaced or forgotten. And every student will have access to an entire library with the touch of a button, from the comfort of their couch.

“It’s going to be a whole new way of reaching kids and closing that gap in achievement,” said Jung, noting that while some of those options currently exist, the school doesn’t have enough technology for all the kids to take full advantage. “This is going to be a whole new wave here. We’ve been technology bereft for some time. This changes everything.”

To find out more about D9 and how to offer support, visit

To find out more about UnifiEd and how to get involved, visit

Email Gabrielle Chevalier at

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Harrison Elementary 3rd graders to use iPad donations to boost reading, math

The Ooltewah Harrison Education Foundation also known as “D9,” along with UnifiEd is using a grant to supply Harrison Elementary’s third graders with iPad’s. All 72 students will receive an iPad when they return to school this fall. Harrison Elementary is a Title 1 school with low reading scores. The i Pads will have apps downloaded to improve students’ reading and math skills. Hamilton County District 9 Commissioner Chester Bankston was able to pitch in as well, and joined the D9 staff to spring this great surprise to the students at Harrison.

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D9 sponsors from Tandem Financial and Tennova Healthcare pose with D9 officials and Wallace A. Smith students after announcing the donation.

Ooltewah Harrison Education Foundation donates funds for much-needed playground

For 26 years, students at Wallace A. Smith Elementary have been playing on the same playground, but it’s time for an update.

And, it turns out, a new jungle gym is now possible — thanks to a $5,000 donation from the Ooltewah Harrison Education Foundation.

Also known as D9, in honor of the Hamilton County and school district it serves, the nonprofit foundation focuses on assisting the five elementary schools in the district, where funding is often limited, organizers say.

In the case of Wallace A. Smith, the recently donated $5,000 will do even more than imagined, because it was matched by a grant to raise a total of $10,000 to add to the playground fund, said Wallace A. Smith Assistant Principal Lindsey Hagan.

“The kids were just buzzing all day about it when they announced it,” she said of the new playground. “They were all just so excited.”

Though there is no completion date set, Hagan said work is expected to begin soon.

To find out more about D9 and how to offer support, visit

Earlier this year, D9 supplied 75 Harrison Elementary School third-graders with iPads to give them greater access to tutoring and other programs.