Knox Education Station News | January 2023 – May 2023

November 21, 2023

Issue 6: January 2023 – May 2023

The mission of the Knox Education Foundation is to be a catalyst for the transformation of public education by investing in and advocating for innovative programs, partnerships, and initiatives to achieve excellent outcomes for all students.

Knox Education Foundation continues to support collaborative efforts to overcome barriers, advance opportunities, and empower all students. We hope you enjoy the updates highlighted in this issue of Knox Education Station.

The 865 Academies Spring Update

In January, Knox County Schools unveiled the academy names for the eight high schools who are part of the first cohort of The 865 Academies. The identification of academies and pathways at each school allows for industry partners to find the best alignment for their area of expertise. Freshman students participated in a freshman seminar class learning about different industry clusters as well as the proposed pathways within their schools’ academies. In January and February, each freshman chose the pathway they would like to do a deep dive in during grades tenth through twelfth. The eight high schools hosted events to unveil the academies and introduce the students to the small learning community they would be joining for sophomore to senior year.

In April, a group of educators from schools in cohort 1 had the opportunity to visit worksites as part of a “teacher externship.” Teacher externships are a unique professional development opportunity where a team of academy teachers along with a school counselor spend time in a company to learn about the skills and competencies needed to succeed in that industry or career path. These experiences will help strengthen the educators’ teaching abilities by bringing relevant, career-world context back to the students.

Central High School’s Academy of Automotive Services and Technology teachers visited North Knox Jeep Secret City location where they took a tour of the facility and spoke with various employees. Teachers were able to connect with different departments that align with their curriculum inside the classroom to be able to guide best instructional practices as well as engage with students in their classrooms.

Central High School Academy Coach, Cassidy Taylor stated, “Giving teachers the opportunity to experience a field trip to a business and industry allows them the opportunity to make those classroom connections to the career world.”
Thank you to the following partners for piloting a “teacher externship” this spring with The 865 Academies – CGI, Knoxville Fire Department, North Knox Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, ORNL MDF, OrthoTennessee, Tennessee School of Beauty, and The Wakefield Corporation.

Business and Industry partners who provide teacher externships can impact between 20-150 students each year.

If you or your business is interested in hosting a teacher externship in the future, please e-mail Windy Clayton, wclayton@knoxed.org

One Book Read City – Second Year Strong!

In the month of May, Knox Education Foundation, in partnership with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, School Board Representative Betsy Henderson, Knox County Schools, and Knox County Public Library, launched the second annual One Book Read City.

Through this community-wide literacy initiative, all KCS students in kindergarten through fifth grade received a copy of the book Zoey and Sassafras- Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro and participated in a variety of engaging readings and activities. In the book, a young girl named Zoey finds that she has the ability to see magical creatures. When a dragon shows up in her family’s barn, Zoey must discover how to feed this dragon and nurse it back to health. Using the Scientific Method, Zoey and her cat, Sassafras, find that dragons love marshmallows.

Arconic, Trane, S&ME, UT Engineering, Oak Ridge National Lab, and Cruze Farm helped create career exploration videos exploring different types of careers in science. These videos provide an in-depth look at what it’s like to be a civil engineer, metallurgist, or even a food scientist. The videos are available on the Read City USA website and are being aired on East TN PBS throughout the summer.

A community-wide scavenger for students was coordinated for students to visit local businesses such as Barnes and Noble, Food City, Xfinity, and many more. Students who completed the scavenger hunt were entered into a drawing to win an opportunity to go to a pizza party with Mayor Glenn Jacobs hosted by Zoo Knoxville, Weigel’s, and Cruze Farm.

To wrap-up One Book Read City, the community is invited to Knox County Public Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading on May 20th. The Read City tent will hold students’ dragon artwork, STEM activities, a 3D dragon, and a special prize for students who bring their book!

Knox Education Foundation proudly supports this initiative to promote community wide literacy awareness and is already preparing for next year’s One Book Read City!

To learn more about this year’s sponsors, visit One Book Read City – KnoxEd and to view the career exploration videos or learn more about the community-wide scavenger hunt, visit One Book Scavenger Hunt 2023 – Read City USA.

A New KEF Initiative: Priority Based Grants

This spring, Knox Education Foundation launched a new initiative: Priority Based Grants. These grants aim to make a larger impact by focusing on and supporting one of
the four district priorities including excellence in foundational skills, career empowerment and preparation, great educators in every school, and success for every
student. With three different grant categories: Needs Based, Accelerator Projects, and Innovative Ideas, KEF’s intention is to fund proposals that impact academics and have specific measurable goals.

KEF funded 17 projects totaling $108,526 for educators, schools, and KCS departments. Some of the funded grants include:

  • Mobile Museums for Knox County’s Social Studies Department that will be utilized by all 3rd-5th grade students
  • L&N STEM’s design of a Nuclear Physics and Chemistry lab that will utilize a virtual reality mobile station to increase learning and exposure for students pursuing physics and astronomy
  • Hardin Valley Elementary’s pilot “Paving the Way to 865” program that exposes elementary students to career fields through reading and real-world experiences
  • Beaumont Magnet Academy piloting the use of heart rate monitors in the classroom for students to learn how heart rate is linked to behavior and self-regulation
  • South Knox Elementary’s students are receiving curated literacy, science, and math materials along with family engagement resources to aid in decreasing summer learning loss

To see all grants funded this Spring please visit: knoxed.org/initatives/prioritybasedgrants

WATE GRAD Telethon Surpasses $50,000 Goal

The sixth annual WATE TV Project GRAD Telethon raised $51,120 on April 12th! The GRAD Telethon is the brainchild of WATE TV News Anchor Lori Tucker. Phone lines rang constantly in the telethon studio headquarters with calls from both repeat and new donors. A $10,000 match challenge was provided by a donor who chose to remain anonymous. Multiple match challenges continued across the day.

The telethon has evolved from a laptop focus to a “tools for success” focus that includes laptops plus support for other needs that can sometimes present obstacles for GRAD Scholars such as licensure exam fees, barber tools, steel toe work boots, nursing scrubs/shoes, or graphing calculators. In the weeks leading up to the telethon, several GRAD alumni stories were shared and those videos can be viewed here: https:// www.wate.com/project-grad/.

Community Celebrates 19th GRAD Scholarship Cohort

More than 100 A-E and Fulton graduating seniors are on track to earn the GRAD Legacy Scholarship (awarded through Class of 2025), joining 18 previous classes and more than 2,100 recipients. These Scholars were honored on April 16 at the Knoxville Convention Center, with proud family members and community supporters present. The logo for the event was created by Fulton High School graphic design student Gavin Womble.

Leading the procession of scholars as Mace Bearer was A-E alum Fred Lowery, Senior Vice President and President of Customer Channels with Thermo Fisher Scientific International. The Vrondelia “Ronni” Chandler award was presented to Dr. Dorian McCoy, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the College of Education, Health & Human Services at the University of Tennessee Knoxville; Dr. McCoy has directed the UTK GRAD Summer Institute from 2014 to 2022, broadening the scope of opportunities provided.

GRAD Scholars have declared diverse postsecondary pathways:

  • 19% Pellissippi State
  • 14% UT Knoxville
  • 13% (fourteen different institutions*)
  • 10% ETSU
  • 8% TCAT Knoxville
  • 6% UT Chattanooga
  • 6% Maryville College
  • 6% TSU
  • 5% MTSU
  • 3% Berea
  • 2% TTU
  • 2% TN Real Estate Commission Accredited program
  • 2% direct to workforce
  • 1% Military
  • 1% undecided
  • Carson Newman, Morehouse, LMU, University of Memphis, Georgia State, Johnson University, Aveda, Bryan College, Virginia Tech, UT Martin, Lane College, Austin-Peay, Vanderbilt, Tusculum

Strong Women Strong Futures

Knox Education Foundation, in partnership with the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee (WFET), provides network support and navigation for the Strong Women Strong Futures Network (SWSF). KEF convenes the network and facilitates formal gatherings while providing structure for
collaboration between the network members.

The SWSF network, comprised of twelve nonprofit organizations, is dedicated to helping every girl in East Tennessee reach her potential through post-secondary education. The network works across sectors, from education to social services to housing to after school programs and more, but through it all there is a strong commitment to empowering more girls and women to pursue education after high school and enter nontraditional work fields.

Starting in 2015, extensive message research and testing was done to understand barriers to post- secondary education and opportunities to overcome them. Now, the network meets throughout the year to plan programs and communications campaigns to help girls and young women pursue formal educational opportunities after high school. Network activities range from one-on-one tutoring to small presentations to college and career fairs to digital marketing campaigns. With the last convening occurring in November, network members were trained on messaging by Burness Communications as well as scholarship training from the East Tennessee Foundation. KEF will continue to partner with network members to help the WFET transform the lives of women and girls in East Tennessee.

Network members represented in this picture are: Project GRAD of Knoxville, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Hola Lakeway, Centro Hispano, Girls Inc of Tennessee Valley, and The Restoration House. Missing are Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton, Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee Valley, Girls Inc of Johnson City, Children’s Center of the Cumberland’s, Safe Harbor of the Smokies, and the YWCA.