Meet Tad Russell – Service Co-Director

Middle School Science Teacher, Hamilton County Department of Education

“This is a photo a series a student took of me teaching during class. I wanted to see what my students saw. Apparently, I use my hands a lot when I talk.”

Q: Is there a person that you look up to that inspires the career moves you’ve made so far?

A: My grandfather did not finish high school, but became a businessman and fought for the local school system and his children’s education. Both of them became teachers with advanced degrees. I used to work as a scientist, but I did not have the opportunity to discuss current science with other people. My first thought was to become a science teacher and share the joy scientific discovery brought to my life.


Q: Is there something you learned as a child that taught you something profound that you carry with you as a young professional?

A: The economy of language. Develop a wide vocabulary to precisely use the word you mean that also offers the most effective form and flow to your speech or writing.


Q: What is the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

A: If you want to change the way things are done, you must learn who to get on your side and who to ignore. Naysayers are incredibly destructive to creativity, but the right ally can move your idea further than you thought.


Q: If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be titled?

A: “The Wings of a Pig” Taken from John Steinbeck’s inscription “To the stars on the wings of a pig.”


Q: If you knew you would be forced to leave Chattanooga in 1 year from today, what would you like to accomplish here before you go?

A: I would like to see the school start time for all Middle and High Schools move to 8:30 or later. Such a simple change would have an outsized impact on student achievement.