Knox Education Station News | December 2021 – February 2022

November 20, 2023

Ford NGL Master Planning Sessions Conclude, Steering Committee Will Bring Next Steps

Between October 2021 and January 2022, Knox Ed convened over 300 stakeholders around the work of reimagining the high school experience in Knox County. Stakeholders collectively represented over 60 area business, industry, and non-profit partners, as well as 7 post-secondary institutions and more than 100 KCS administrators, counselors, teachers, parents, and students. Over the course of 3 all-day planning sessions, consultants from Ford Next Generation Learning guided stakeholders through the process of developing a “Portrait of a Graduate” for Knox County Schools and creating a comprehensive “master plan” to implement academically rigorous, workforce- aligned small learning academies in pilot high schools across the district.

During the planning sessions, participating stakeholders were divided into 16 “tactical teams,” which were each tasked with developing an implementation plan for one aspect of this work. Teams worked on everything from developing work -based learning opportunities for students, to organizing data and reporting structures, to identifying a structure for shared ownership and accountability between Knox County Schools and the broader community, to designing a robust family engagement and communication plan. These plans were officially finalized and submitted on February 4th and are currently being compiled into a single, overarching “Master Plan.” Moving forward, the Master Plan will act as a roadmap for schools to follow as they adopt and implement the career academies model.

In the coming months, Knox Ed will be working to support Knox County Schools to finalize its Master Plan and convene a Steering Committee. This Committee will consist of district and community leaders who will guide this work through the implementation phase and beyond. As these critical phases of work are completed, we look forward to announcing a “Designation Day,” in which the Knox County community will be officially designated a Ford Next Generation Learning community, signaling our commitment to equitably and effectively equipping our young people for a future of success.

In-Kind Donations from Community Partners Make a Difference

With the generous support of 61 partners, Knox Ed-supported schools were able to provide food baskets, supplies, clothing, presents, and gift cards to hundreds of families across 18 schools.

Partnership with Centro Hispano Helps Belle Morris Families Learn about Affordable Internet

Throughout September and October, with the help of Centro Hispano through funds from Knox Ed, Belle Morris Elementary conducted surveys with Latinx families from the school to gain a better understanding of how they can support this population, which makes up a third of the total school population. The overwhelming majority of survey participants reported that they did not feel confident using apps like Zoom or Teams but would be willing to learn if the school taught them and provided interpreters.With this in mind, the Belle Morris steering committee decided to have an “Internet Café” event for Latinx families.

On December 1st, Belle Morris held the Internet Café in the library. Families began the process of signing up for affordable internet, learned how to use Zoom and Teams, and received school-specific technology support. This event has led to calls and questions from multiple families unable to attend the event who wanted information and/or assistance about the topics covered. Belle Morris sees this event as a great start to reaching more and more of their school families.

The Internet Café would not have been possible without Centro Hispano, as they provided an interpreter and helped reach out to families to invite them to the event. Centro has been a long-time partner of Belle Morris and many other schools that Knox Ed supports. At Belle Morris specifically, their help has been crucial to build bridges between the school and Latinx families.

Student Success Grants Announcement

Knox Education Foundation has approved funding of $225,000 for the 2021-2022 Student Success Grants. As COVID’s impact on education extends into a third year, our community’s growing concern over accumulated student learning loss is more acute than ever before. To support school-level efforts, grants will be made to each and every school in Knox County. Funds will be granted to promote school-wide or targeted student support, or for high quality professional development for teachers, ensuring schools have the necessary tools to support student learning.

Grants will vary and range from $1,500 to $5,000. Additionally, of the $225,000, $10,000 will be awarded to the Teacher Depot, and $5,000 to the Clothing Center. Funding is generously being provided by the United Way of Greater Knoxville, Knox County, and the Knox Education Foundation.

Sponsor a Project GRAD High School Graduate

Since 2001, Project GRAD, an initiative of Knox Ed, has inspired countless students to recognize and reach their full potential in high school, college, and in their career. On Sunday, April 10th, we will celebrate 20 years of Project GRAD Excellence by inducting another exemplary class of Scholars at our 2022 Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner. Our Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner is an opportunity for Scholars and their families to come together to celebrate the bright future ahead and recognize the extraordinary achievements of each graduate. This year, we will celebrate 130 seniors: 55 from Austin-East High School and 75 from Fulton High School.

We invite you to consider serving as a 2022 Project GRAD Champion. Project GRAD Champions make our Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner possible by sponsoring a student, family, or table for this momentous event. These contributions ensure that our Scholars and their families are celebrated in a manner commensurate with the hard work and dedication they have exhibited over the course of their academic career.

Become a GRAD Champion by going to knoxed.org/events