Tony Donen

Executive Mastermind

Tony is an energetic education advocate specializing in management, governance, education policy, and internal communications. His history of building vibrant, mission-focused teams, fostering organizational strength, and advancing long-range growth plans has proven him to be a dynamic leader.


Tony began his career in the engineering field. After working in the private sector, Tony's passion for helping kids drove him to education so he could interact with students on a daily basis. Following several years of success in the classroom, Tony was recruited into administration and combined his passion for helping students with his passion for improving educational systems. Following a successful run as a traditional administrator, Tony founded STEM School Chattanooga -- an innovative STEM platform school in southeast Tennessee. Tony has worked as a teacher, coach, and administrator for almost 20 years with more than 10 years as a high school principal. His schools have been featured in Newsweek's list of top public high school, have had multiple years of 96% plus school graduation rates, and he developed a standards-based implementation for ACT that resulted in nearly three point schoolwide gains on the ACT assessment in a traditional, large public school. He is the lead author of the book Grades Don't Matter: Using Assessment to Measure True Learning and the coauthor of The Grades Game. As the founding principal of STEM School Chattanooga, Tony created a premier public high school that develops and shares a new paradigm for world-class education. Tony has led the development and implementation for project and problem based learning instruction and curricula, standards based grading and assessment, 1-to-1 device integration, multiple thriving business and higher education partnerships, and a student driven school culture.


Tony holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Travecca Nazarene University, a master's degree in teaching from East Tennessee State University, and a bachelor's degree in engineering from Virginia Tech University.

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