Joyce Balinger Tatum

October 30, 1947April 6, 2014
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Joyce Balinger Tatum, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, passed away on April 6, 2014.

A lifelong teacher and student, she delighted in helping people learn new things. She inspired and mentored hundreds of people with a rare combination of intellectual inquisitiveness and childlike curiosity. With boundless energy, she would play on the floor with a toddler, engage an elementary child in a serious conversation, trade jokes with teenagers, or delight adults with her stories.

She began her teaching career in the classroom, where she served for twenty years at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. Along the way, she garnered national, state, and local awards for her teaching practices, national awards for economics instruction, and state and local awards for work in social studies and humanities.

Joyce was a founding faculty member of the first K-12 Paideia school in the country. She served as a social studies curriculum supervisor in the Chattanooga Public Schools and a Paidiea coordinator for 10 schools in the city. She presented at conferences around the world on a variety of topics, especially those that helped people become better teachers.

One of the highlights of Joyce’s career was her role as Museum Liaison at Normal Park Museum Magnet in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The school opened in 2002 and Joyce served as an advanced team member to develop the concept. In 2005, Magnet Schools of America selected Normal Park as the top magnet school in the United States. In addition, as Vice President of Curriculum Design for One Clip at a Time, she trained than 200 educators across 18 states and Canada and inspired thousands of students to be activists in the process.

Joyce always found it moving when former students and colleagues would talk about the impact that she had in their lives, and her family finds enormous comfort in knowing that these special relationships will serve as a perpetual reminder of her extraordinary life.

When she somehow found spare time, she loved to travel to places both new and familiar. She was a tireless volunteer at the children’s museum, the aquarium, and various art museums around Chattanooga.

She had an infectious laugh, and she always treated people with respect and loved unconditionally. Her home and garden was always adorned with kids’ art, books, photos, birdhouses, plants, beautiful blue glass, and found objects from her travels. Her door was always open to friends old and new – and she often served as the non-official social chairman for her neighborhood, organizing backyard parties for holidays and special events. She radiated happiness when she led the kids’ bicycle parade through the neighborhood and greenway every July 4th.

Her greatest joy, though, was her family. She loved her husband of forty-seven years, Bill, who stood valiantly by her side until the end. She was fiercely proud of her two daughters, Carolyn and Laura, to whom she passed her remarkable love of learning. She loved trading stories with her son-in-law, Chris, with whom she was always scheming of their next grand adventure. And she saved a very special love for her three grandsons, Henry, John, and Charlie, who will always remember their “Gran” with deep affection.

Joyce is also survived by her sisters, Faye Moore and Alice Ray, and brother, Jimmy Balinger, along with numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, April 9, from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm and on Thursday, April 10, from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm at Chattanooga Funeral Home North Chapel, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN 37343.

Condolences may be sent to the family via Joyce’s CaringBridge site,

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in Joyce's memory to the "Joyce Tatum Fund for Creative and Inspired Learning." This fund has been created at the Normal Park Education Fund. Monies received will be used for materials and expenses related to innovative learning opportunities created by teachers. Donations may be made payable to "CFGC - NPMMEF, 1270 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN, 37402 or online at Please write "Joyce Tatum Fund" in the memo line of your check.


  • Visitation Wednesday, April 9, 2014
  • Visitation Thursday, April 10, 2014

Joyce Balinger Tatum

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Mrs. J.R. Wooton

April 10, 2014

We are so sorry to hear of her death. We hope the scriptures in John 11:34-44 will bring you comfort, peace and hope.

Greg Wilkey

April 8, 2014

Joyce was an inspiration to me when I began teaching over 20 years ago. She was caring and encouraging to so many of us. Her presence will be missed. My prayers are with her friends and family. God bless!

Katherine Odom

April 8, 2014

I am so sad to hear that Mrs. Tatum has passed. She was one of my favorite teachers at CSAS. When I had her in 8th grade in the 86'-87' school year I don't think I truly appreciated the wonderful education I was getting from this remarkable woman. My heart goes out to her family and they are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.