• Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy Opens


    Simon Youth Foundation Education Resource Center in Knoxville Center Mall

    November 1, 2010
    Community leaders, educators and representatives of the Simon Youth Foundation today cut the ribbon on the Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy at the Knoxville Center Mall. 

    The Academy, a diploma-granting high school, is an Education Resource Center (ERC) made possible by a partnership between the Simon Youth Foundation and the Knox County Schools. The facility for the 6,400 square foot school is heavily underwritten by the Simon Youth Foundation. Funding has also been provided by the Great Schools Partnership and the Cornerstone Foundation.

    ERCs, like the Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy, are designed for students who have found the traditional high school setting challenging for a variety of reasons. ERCs are an educational haven where students can recover credits and set the pace of their education. Located primarily in Simon malls across the United States, ERCs have served more than 19,000 students since the inception of the program in 1998. To date, over 7,000 students have received their high school diplomas, with a cumulative graduation rate of 90 percent. 

    “We are thrilled to be at a point where we can open the doors of this new school to our students in the next few days,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. “This high school will provide multiple pathways for students to succeed and we are extremely appreciative of the support of Simon Youth Foundation, the Board of Education, the Great Schools Partnership, our other benefactors and the broader community to make this a reality.”

    “This dream has become a reality thanks to the leadership with which this county is blessed,” said Dr. Richard Markoff, Executive Vice President of Simon Youth Foundation. “We at Simon Youth Foundation, on behalf of the at-risk and economically challenged youth we serve, appreciate the efforts of the many community partners, including the school system, Board of Education, higher education, philanthropic, Simon Property Group contractors, business contributors, and Knoxville Center Mall." 

    After receiving 99 recommendations from the community, the high school was named the Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy after Dr. Paul Kelley, a long-time educator, administrator, and former Board of Education member. The term “Volunteer Academy” was suggested by students of the high school. 

    Each ERC offers courses tailored to meet the specific needs of the student, and each facility accommodates various learning styles and instructional needs. As an additional benefit, the SYF also provides scholarships for graduating students to continue their education, having awarded over 550 scholarships totaling more than $4.3 million in one- time and renewal awards.