Issue 6: June 2023 – September 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.
A Message from the CEO
My first nine months at the Knox Education Foundation (KEF) have been an exciting and fast-paced journey. While I am new to KEF, I am not new to the work of education foundations and building strong public schools. It is great to be back home in Knoxville, close to family and friends, and surrounded by the beauty of East Tennessee.
While the new school year opens the door to many new opportunities, KEF remains true to its commitment to put students first in everything we do.
- Literacy remains an important focus and we are excited to continue to facilitate the One Book Read City initiative in partnership with Knox County Schools and Knox County Government. We believe students develop a joy for reading when they join family, educators, and community members in reading the same book together.
- Newly redesigned, KEF’s Priority Based Grants initiative has earmarked more than $250,000 in funding for innovative and outcome-based projects in 2024.
- Working in partnership with Knox County Schools to reimagine the high school experience, KEF continues to be the convening organization to support The 865 Academies. By helping to assemble a network of community and industry partnerships, students explore career paths and connections to the workforce.
- Project GRAD is launching a series of student and family support funds to help close the opportunity gap for students while providing additional funding for enrichment opportunities and resources to eliminate the barriers to academic success. The work of Project GRAD continues with dedicated KEF staff at Austin-East and Fulton high schools.
After several months of planning, research, and meetings with community leaders, KEF is finalizing a new strategic plan that will guide our work through 2026 and beyond. The plan has ambitious goals that strengthen student outcomes. I look forward to sharing additional details in the near future.
I want to thank the community as I stepped into my role at KEF. With your support, we can make a difference in the lives of Knox County students, as we build the best public education system in the country.
Mike Taylor, CEO
Green Magnet Academy Playspace Ribbon Cutting
Green Magnet Academy celebrated a reimagined outdoor learning space for students with a ribbon cutting on August 31. The renovation was made possible by a generous donation from The Boyd Foundation, while Knox Education Foundation was honored to provide project management.
Green Magnet Academy received several upgrades to the school’s existing outdoor space, including
- Play structure and swing sets
- Playing surface for full-court basketball and four-square
- Soccer area with two full-sized goals
- Two side-by-side running lanes
- Outdoor musical instruments
- Large and colorful murals
- Shaded area
- Seating options including benches and tables
“Knox County Schools is so thankful to have amazing community partners like The Boyd Foundation that are committed to our district’s mission,” said Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk. “The generous gift from The Boyd Foundation will allow the students at Green Magnet Academy to play in a safe environment, learn about healthy lifestyles, and encourage creative play.”
“Learning through play has a powerful impact on the health, wellness, and resiliency of our students,” said Mike Taylor, CEO of the Knox Education Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Boyds and for their generous investment to make the outdoor learning space at Green Magnet possible.”
“Believing in the importance of play during the school day, our family is thrilled to partner with Green Magnet to create a space for kids to run, imagine, and learn,” said Randy Boyd, president and co-founder of the Boyd Foundation. “Cutting the ribbon will be one of the highlights of our year! We hope this play space allows Green Magnet students to nurture creativity and promote better health for years to come.”
Knox Education Foundation Adds New Members to Board of Directors
Dorian L. McCoy serves as the UTK College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences’ Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He is a former co-director for the UTK-Project GRAD Knoxville Summer Institute. Dorian has worked in higher education as an administrator and faculty for 30 years. His research examines how underrepresented graduate students and faculty/administrators access and are socialized to academia.
Why did you join Knox Education Foundation’s Board of Director?
“I joined the Knox Education Foundation Board of Directors to work collaboratively with Knox County Schools and to assist in providing the necessary and needed resources for student and teacher success”. -Dorian McCoy
Will Edwards and his wife Becca are parents of two students in Knox County Schools. He is a shareholder of the law firm of Long, Ragsdale & Waters, P.C. Will has served our community as a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House of Knoxville, Project Gabriel, and Autism Society of East Tennessee, as a member of the Knox County Schools Special Education Task Force, and as co-chair of Knox County Schools Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Will received gubernatorial appointments to serve on the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Will is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Mississippi College School of Law, and Lambuth University.
Why did you join Knox Education Foundation’s Board of Director?
“I am excited to join the Knox Education Foundation as it partners with Knox County Schools to seek excellence for every student. In such a large school district, it is important for community partners to provide support, innovative ideas, and research to ensure our schools continue to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce. I look forward to working with the Foundation to create additional opportunities for student achievement and success.” – Will Edwards
Knox Education Foundation’s New Position to Support The 865 Academies
Knox Education Foundation is excited to welcome Windy Clayton to the team as our Partner Engagement Officer.
“I am so excited to serve as the Partner Engagement Officer for Knox Education Foundation. In this role, I will be working directly with partners supporting The 865 Academies and I look forward to connecting our incredible students with expanded opportunities. As the former principal of Beaumont Magnet Academy and native Knoxvillian, I have seen firsthand the impact of businesses, industries, and post- secondary programs collaborating with Knox County students”.
Windy has spent the past 16 years serving as a KCS administrator at South-Doyle Middle School, Karns Middle School, Vine Middle Magnet School, Beaumont Magnet Academy. Prior to working as an administrator, she taught kindergarten, second grade, and fifth-eighth grades. Windy is passionate about removing obstacles for students and educators to maximize opportunities for learning. She holds a B.S. in Child and Family Studies, a Master of Arts and Teaching, and an Educational Specialist in Administration.
Please reach out to Windy at email@example.com to learn how to support The 865 Academies.
By the Numbers: One Book Read City 2023
Knox Education Foundation proudly supports this initiative to promote community-wide literacy awareness and is preparing for the third year One Book Read City!
Summer Institutes Provide Post-Secondary Exposure
Knox Education Foundation hosted three Project GRAD Summer Institutes for over 180 Austin East and Fulton High School Students at:
- University of Tennessee
- Pellissippi State Community College
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology
Eighty percent of scholars completed their programs and received certifications in their desired fields. Eighty four percent of students who completed the satisfaction survey expressed their knowledge increased heavily after the summer institutes.
University of Tennessee
From June 11-23, two different groups of scholars from Austin-East and Fulton high schools spent two weeks at UTK. During this time, students explored pathways in Nursing, Engineering, Sport Management, and Business.
Pellissippi State Community College
Sixty five students from Austin-East and Fulton High School attended the PSCC Summer Institute. Students participated in a variety of activities such as building model planes and rockets, creating six-word memoirs, and completing an act of service at Knoxville Muse.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
Fulton and Austin-East High School students participated in the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Summer Institute. TCAT provided various certifications to students during their two weeks. Students in the Health Sciences track earned a CPR certification, and a Braiding certificate was earned by three students who participated in the Cosmetology track. Students were also able to prove their strengths to perform their best time assembling machine tools.