Knox Commerce

Equipping Students for the Future

Knoxville not only boasts an excellent quality of life and vibrant economy, but also has some of the best K-12 education opportunities. With an outstanding public-school system and a variety of private school options, parents relocating to the area can rest assured their children receive a top-notch education.

BY: LYNSEY WILSON

Knox County Schools’ dedicated education professionals serve more than 59,000 students at the elementary, middle and high school level. With a mission of providing “excellence for every child,” the district is committed to continuous improvement – maintaining academic rigor and engaging students with skills relevant to their future workforce.

“The foundation to succeeding in this area is rigorous program standards that provide hands-on context to academic material and prepare students for the world of work,” said Bob Thomas, Knox County Superintendent of Schools. “The more educational opportunities and industry certifications we can provide to our students, the more students will be able to do what their diploma says they can do.”

In Nov. 2017, Knox County School students broke the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people learning to code at the same time. The initiative, spearheaded by a local entrepreneur in partnership with the school system, was designed to highlight the region’s attention to technology and education.

“Computing positions account for roughly two-thirds of all STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs available in the country,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber and member of the governor-appointed Tennessee Board of Education. “In the future, the computer science skills currently required by software and advanced manufacturing companies will be necessary for employment in all industries. Initiatives like the world-record attempt are important for engaging and equipping our students to compete for these jobs.”

Knox County Schools continue to focus on excellence in K-12 education with the Knox Schools 2020 strategic plan, which emphasizes higher academic expectations with rigorous curriculum, personalized learning and strong learning foundations.

These goals align with the State’s 2020 plan which include: Tennessee ranking in the top half of states on the NAEP; the average ACT composite score in Tennessee is a 21; and the majority of high school graduates that year earn a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree.

“These goals are bold, but achievable,” said Edwards.

PRIVATE-SCHOOL OPTIONS

In addition to an excellent public-school system, the Knoxville area offers great private-school options. There are 49 private schools in the Knoxville area serving almost 10,000 students.

The Episcopal School of Knoxville is an independent, co-educational school that offers academic excellence and character training for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. With small class sizes, the school seeks to instill a lifelong love of learning in its students and enrich their lives through intellectual, cultural, and spiritual growth.

For more than 50 years, Webb School of Knoxville has offered comprehensive curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. The school boasts an impressive 100 percent college placement rate for its graduates. Webb prides itself on preparing its students to become tomorrow’s leaders through teaching them how to think critically and be socially conscious.

Tate’s School of Discovery offers a robust learning experience for elementary and middle school children. The school builds its curriculum around “brain-compatible learning,” which aims to shape students through multiple instructional techniques and strong character development. Tate’s School has several specialty area classes, including art, music, physical education, and Spanish.

Located in Maryville, the Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy is creating a unique learning experience for its students by partnering with the business community. The school offers STEM-based curriculum for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Co-founded by Clayton Homes, the school has teamed up with area companies and organizations to provide real-world experiences in the classroom. With the combination of STEM curriculum and practical business applications, the academy aims to prepare its students for tomorrow’s workforce.

HIGHER-EDUCATION ACCESSIBILITY

Graduating high school seniors have the opportunity to receive two years of community college or technical school tuition-free through the Tennessee Promise program.

The program was created to address Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” mission, which aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary certifications or degrees from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025. In order to reach this goal, the state needs an additional 494,000 degrees or certifications, particularly in programs provided at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and community colleges.

The program got off to a strong start in 2015, as community colleges and TCATs across the state welcomed more than 15,000 Tennessee Promise students.

Tennessee Promise students are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete community service hours to remain eligible for the scholarship. Post-secondary access and success program tnAchieves is helping Tennessee Promise students meet that benchmark. The program provides participating students with mentors that will coach them through the college application process and their first year or more of school.

Article originally published in the 2018 Choose Knoxville Relocation Guide. Click here to read the full publication.