Historical Richard Yoakly School
The Alternative Center for Learning(ACL) was established in 1980 as the first alternative school in Tennessee. Dr. Mildred Doyle, former Knox County school superintendent for 30 years, combined her ideas with the University of Tennessee Educational Research Department to develop a learning program for students suspended or expelled from Knoxville City and Knox County School Systems. A board of directors and a part time director gave guidance as the ACL began in September 1980 in two classrooms at Fort Sanders Elementary School.
The beginning staff consisted of a low ratio of pupil to teacher/counselor. Each student had an individualized schedule to enable him/her to return to his/her base school. Required parent meetings and student group counseling were an integral part of the school commitment to encourage success and positive change.
These components were carried from location to location as the ACL moved yearly to vacant buildings. After Fort Sanders Elementary, the ACL moved to Cedar Grove School, then to McCallie Elementary. The following year, they shared a building with the Sam E. Hill Headstart Center. For several years, the program occupied a wing of Knoxville Adaptive Education Center's building. Finally, after a consolidation of the city and county school systems in 1987, the school moved to its present location at the old Alice Bell Elementary School in east Knox County.
In 1995, the name was changed to Richard Yoakley School in memory of the Knox County School's director of pupil personnel and one of the original board of directors of the ACL. Also in 1995,the school began a transformation from a counseling foundation to a behavior program.