During a surprise reception to honor Henry Schulson’s 20 years of service to Creative Discovery Museum and the Chattanooga community, Mayor Andy Berke presented Schulson with the Key to the City.
“There are people in our community who make such a difference with their own voice that they should be recognized as being a key to our future and unlocking the potential of our city. On behalf of the citizens of Chattanooga, I want to present Henry Schulson with a Key to the City of Chattanooga,” Mayor Berke said during his speech at the reception.
Schulson was completely surprised.
“I am totally shocked,” said Schulson. “When the Museum opened, it was like a tree that landed without roots. Over the last 20 years, we’ve worked to build deep roots in this community. So many people have worked to create this Museum. It’s really become a community Museum, and that’s something I’m most proud of.”
Schulson also credited Jayne Griffin, Ed.D for providing over 20 years of leadership as director of education.
“I couldn’t have done this for 20 years without Jayne,” Schulson said. “Her passion for children, her expertise as an educator and her commitment to teaching children through the power of play has been instrumental to the success of the Museum.”
For two decades, Schulson has served as executive director at the Museum. Through his leadership, Schulson has transformed Creative Discovery Museum into more than just a museum:
- In 2016, the Museum served over 283,000 children and families at the Museum and through its outreach programs;
- It is an economic driver for downtown attracting more than 237,000 guests in 2016. Approximately 55,000 were out of town visitors;
- It is an educational resource for over 71,000 students a year;
- The Discovery Mobile, a mobile science lab, has provided lessons to over 3,500 students in the region who may not have access to materials and curriculum;
- It is a training ground for over 100 teen volunteers;
- It is a national hub for alternative energy education in partnership with the Department of Energy and the BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
- And it is a community center that provides close to 50,000 free and reduced admissions every year.
“If you think about all he has done, so many children come through Creative Discovery Museum and find their own voice,” Mayor Berke said. “With our own kids, Monique and I saw that. He’s understood the power that he has, and the Museum has, to become the voice for kids in our community.”
At the time Schulson was hired, the Museum was only a year-and-a-half old. According to Lori Runge, who served as board chair at the time, the Museum looked very different then than that it does now.
“We all know the great place the Museum is today,” Runge said during her speech at the reception. “As many know, and I do say every single change I get, hiring Henry was our greatest accomplishment.”
“As I look at the Museum today, we had no idea how good of a decision we really made,” Paul Brock said. Brock served as acting director at the time Schulson was hired. “The Museum partners with educators, schools, social service agencies. It’s a resource for children and families in this area. This community is stronger because of the leadership he’s provided.”
In addition to the impact Schulson has outside of the Museum, Griffin voiced appreciation for his leadership and compassion for the Museum staff.
“Staff knows that Henry’s leadership allows us to grow into ourselves,” said Griffin. “He celebrates the people we are. He knows, respects and cares about all of his staff. I also couldn’t have done this for 20 years if it wasn’t for Henry.”
“It’s been a real privilege to have a front row seat as board chair for the last nine years to watch Henry do what he does to improve our community every single day,” said Leonora Williamson, Creative Discovery Museum board chair. “This formidable leader and his team truly do make our community the best place for a child to grow up.”
As part of the celebration, the Museum board created “Henry’s Fund” through the Community Foundation. Schulson received a check for over $11,000 to use towards the Museum at his discretion. To contribute to “Henry’s Fund,” you can make checks payable to “Henry’s Fund” and mail to Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga at 1270 Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37402. Or click here to make a donation online.