Knox Education Station News | June – August 2022

November 20, 2023

Issue 4: June 2022 – August 2022

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.

#865Ready: The 865 Academies Begin!

The Academy Coaches with Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk – Kenzey Zimmerman, Canterra Whysong, Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Ashli Beeler, Amanda Edsell, Julie Langley, Cassidy Taylor, Kelley Darnell

It is an exciting time as the 2022-2023 school year has begun and implementation of The 865 Academies initiative in seven of Knox County High Schools has started. The 865 Academies initiative is aimed at transforming the high school experience for Knox County students, and Freshman Academy is the first step on that journey. Freshman Academy is designed to welcome 9th graders to high school, provide a smaller learning community to build connections with teachers and classmates, and prepare students to select an academy pathway for grades 10th -12th. The Class of 2026 at Austin East Magnet High, Bearden High, Central High, Farragut High, Fulton High, Hardin Valley High, and Karns High are the first to experience the high school re-design.
Each of the seven schools has an Academy Coach who will serve as a liaison between the school, students, and industry partners, and will work to strengthen these connections. The seven Academy Coaches are supported by a team from KCS, The Chamber and KEF, each bringing unique qualities that will help them develop strong community partnerships for the Academies.

As this initiative grows and career-themed academies are rolled out, we will be looking for industry partners to come alongside The 865 Academies. Do you have a business or organization interested in being a partner of The 865 Academies? In partnership with Knox County Schools, we have a great team to guide you through the partnership process. Fill out the partner interest form to learn more!

Effective Educators Make a Difference: Cohort 2 of Knox County’s Tennessee Educators of Color Fellowship

The opening kick-off was held at the Knoxville Urban League.

In August, the second cohort of the Knox County Tennessee Educators of Color Fellows had their first meeting. Through funding from Knox Education Foundation, 14 fellows will participate in a yearlong experience designed to inform and empower educators of color. The Fellowship provides networking opportunities, growth experiences and a community to a guide a hands-on curriculum along with independent study with an experienced mentor.

At the kick-off meeting, the 14 fellows participated in Education Policy 101 which is a review of what happens at the local, state, and federal levels. The group convened in person at Knoxville Area Urban League. Fellows are now beginning work on their equity project; an intervention of their own design based on a problem or issue they have observed in their school community. You can learn more about this year’s cohort here: https://www.tneca.org/knox-county-2022-2023.html

Breaking Down Barriers: Back to School in Community Schools

The Community Schools strategy has gone through some changes over the summer that are anticipated to improve service of students, families, and communities this upcoming school year. In an effort to align with Knox County Schools, regional supervisor positions have been created that closely model the district’s regional strategy. In July, Jennifer Ayers, formerly the site coordinator at Christenberry, and Kara Strouse, formerly the site coordinator at Dogwood, were promoted to regional supervisor positions. Since May, five new site coordinators have joined the team: Cassia Owen, Gary Miller, Jacob Balzer, Dana Walter, and Emily Griggs. Our new and veteran staff are working diligently to recommit our strategy to the Community Schools Pillars of Shared Collaborative Leadership, Family & Community Engagement, Expanded Enrichment Opportunities, and Integrated Student Support. There should be many examples of these pillars to share in the days ahead.

Community Schools looks forward to supporting more community collaboration that maximizes the learning and optimizes the health and well-being of students, while also creating long term sustainable support for the families and communities served by our schools.

To kick-off the year, there is great news for our dental program which takes place in partnership with the Elgin Children’s Foundation & Knox County Schools. This school year, dental screenings and treatment will be available for every one of our elementary Community Schools students! Lizzie Gaver, currently the site coordinator at South Knoxville Elementary, has also taken on the role of Dental Coordinator. Since stepping into this role, Lizzie has helped lead the creation of a new Dental Coalition which has brought new partners to the table who are able to help expand dental services to all thirteen elementary Community Schools. This would not have been possible without the existing relationships between Elgin Children’s Foundation, Knox County Schools and the Knox County Health Department and a new partnership with Lincoln Memorial University. Dental screenings kicked off this month and dental treatments will start mid-October.

Pathways and Pipelines: Project GRAD Summer Experiences

During the month of June, Summer Institutes were held at Pellissippi State Community College, UT Knoxville, and TCAT Knoxville for 227 high school scholars from Austin-East and Fulton High School.

The studies at Pellissippi State included English, statistics, College 1000 (college credit earned), and several interest-based electives: sound engineering, coding, digital audio, visual arts, aviation and robotics. Students also participated in a Shark Tank pitch competition for products made of recycled carbon fiber in collaboration with Smart Institute/A1 Learning and IACMI corporation.

At the UTK residential experience, students took courses on college research skills, Algebra 2, Geometry, English, and had opportunities to explore engineering, sport psychology, nursing, sports & recreation management, nutrition, and STEM.

During the career-focused GRAD institute at TCATK, students explored automotive studies, cosmetology, HVAC/industrial electricity, medical assisting, surgical technology, and welding.

After completion of one of the three Summer Institutes, GRAD Scholars reported they understood what it is like to be on a college campus and would now feel comfortable attending a college class. Students also reported an increase in a better understanding of the importance of good study skills.

In July, the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s REAP Academy (Rights, Equity, Access, Participation) was held for a second year for rising 9th graders from Project GRAD feeder schools, Whittle Springs and Vine Middle Magnet. REAP is a learning experience with a social justice theme that is a week-long (commuter) experience at UTK. Students are introduced to concepts of social issues, social justice, and social change. They visited sites around the campus and around the city and spoke with scholars locally and around the world virtually. Students culminated the week with a visit to the African American Music Museum in Nashville. The academic portion of the week wrapped with a mock election for Mayor. The two REAP Candidates were A’majsha Saffell and Roza Gonzalez-Rodriguez and the mock election ended in a tied vote. On August 29, 2022 GRAD arranged for the REAP Co-Mayors and REAP Academy leadership to meet the current Mayor of the City of Knoxville, The Honorable Indya Kincannon.

REAP is a collaboration between the UTK Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement and UTK’s newest department, Africana Studies.

Knox Ed Welcomes New Board Members

The Knoxville Education Foundation is pleased to announce that four outstanding public servants have been elected to its Board of Directors.

Claudia Caballero is President and CEO of Centro Hispano de East Tennessee.

Carol Carden is Managing Principal of Valuation Services and member of the executive committee of PYA, PC. She will serve as Knox Ed’s Treasurer.

Markus Jackson serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

Darris Upton is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs Manager for UCOR. He also serves as Chair of Knox Ed’s Project GRAD Advisory Board.

Everyone at Knox Ed appreciates their willingness to serve and looks forward to their leadership in the coming years.