Fulton Courses Give Insight
Into Criminal Justice CareersPosted by JOSH FLORY on 2/10/2022
As the City of Knoxville builds a $57 million Public Safety Complex in North Knoxville, the facility is expected to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students in a new criminal justice program at Fulton High School.
The program is led by teacher Caleb Andrist, a former law enforcement officer with agencies including the Brentwood Police Department. Three courses are currently offered:
-- Level 1, an introductory course that focuses on policing, the courts and corrections;
-- Level 2, a hands-on course that covers topics including handcuffing, traffic stops and vehicle searches; and
-- Level 3, a forensic science course.
Eventually, students who complete all three courses will be able to enroll in a work-based learning course in partnership with the Knoxville Police Department, which will move its headquarters to the new Public Safety Complex when construction is finished.
“When you’re talking about any high school anywhere in America, getting kids to a work-based learning opportunity in criminal justice is going to be difficult,” said Jonathan Egert, principal of the Skilled Professions Small Learning Community at Fulton. “For us, it’s a crossing of the street when that KPD office is open.”
On a recent afternoon, Andrist walked students through the basics of using handcuffs in an arrest situation, then gave pointers as they took turns practicing.
And while issues related to policing can be challenging, Andrist said in an interview that he doesn’t shy away from “the hard stuff”, and that approach builds trust within the classroom.
"If there’s a bad situation in police work we will absolutely talk about that, just as much as we’ll talk about the good stuff. And the kids see that and they know that, and that's where that trust comes from."
The approach appears to be paying dividends. Egert said there is a buzz around the program among students, who are seeing a different side of policing than they get on social media.
Alayna Roberson, a Fulton senior who is hoping to study criminology, said Andrist has a way of making the material interesting, and that she has enjoyed the class a lot.
“It made me want to know why people do what they do.”
Bearden Musicians To Perform
At ABBA Tribute ShowPosted by JOSH FLORY on 2/4/2022
On Sunday evening, the Bijou Theatre will host The FABBA Show, a tribute to Swedish pop band ABBA -- and four KCS students will be part of the performance!
Renditions of "Honey Honey" and "Slipping Through My Fingers" will feature the Bearden High School String Quartet:
-- Medb Glatt (senior, above left, violin);
-- Autumn Larmee (senior, above right, violin);
-- Hannah Benson (sophomore, cello); and
-- Kalen Wilson (freshman, viola).
“I’m excited to play with singers,” Larmee told Hall Pass. “I’ve never really done that before for a concert, usually it’s just other instruments.”
Glatt and Larmee are both participating in the three-day All-East senior clinic in Gatlinburg this weekend, and will return in time for Sunday’s Bijou performance.
Glatt, whose musical favorites include Romantic-era pieces by composers such as Tchaikovsky, said the violin has had a positive impact on other areas of her life.
“I feel like it’s challenged me a lot because I’ve had to push myself to practice to get to where I want to be and to grow.”
The FABBA show will take place:
-- Sunday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
-- Bijou Theatre
Continues To GrowPosted by JOSH FLORY on 2/1/2022
Beauford Delaney grew up in Knoxville and went on to achieve international acclaim as one of the great modernist painters of the 20th Century.
In many ways, his achievements were more widely recognized outside of Knoxville than they were locally. But a group of local activists and advocates is helping to make sure his legacy – and that of Joseph Delaney, his younger brother and fellow artist – are acknowledged and celebrated in his hometown.
Beauford Delaney was born in a house on Vine Street in 1901, one of 10 children born to Samuel and Delia Delaney. Rev. Reneé Kesler, president of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, said he went on to attend “Knoxville Colored High School”, a successor to Austin High, and was encouraged in his artistic efforts by principal Charles Cansler.
Kesler said Delia Delaney was among the first to recognize her sons’ potential, adding that during church services, Beauford and Joseph would draw on Sunday School cards.
But Kesler also emphasized the importance of educators such as Cansler. “You can never underestimate the power of our teachers and of our educators,” she said. “We applaud them because they see things in the students that no one else can see … And I think it made the difference in the life of both Beauford and Joseph, of these educators who took a sincere interest in them.”
Beauford Delaney’s talent was later recognized by Knoxville painter Lloyd Branson, who served as a mentor and helped him attend art school in Boston. Delaney went on to live in New York and later in Paris, where he died in 1979.
David Butler, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art, said Delaney has a huge international reputation with a strong market for his work. “Black artists in general, their market has really risen dramatically in the last decade or so,” Butler said. “And we’re kind of rewriting our history, understanding it in a much more complete way. It’s a much more diverse story than we used to think, and a much more diverse cast of characters. Black artists like Beauford were overlooked and ignored in many cases just because of who they were.”
In 2020, KMA hosted a major exhibition of Delaney’s work called “Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door”, which focused on the artist’s relationship with Baldwin, the writer well-known for his books and essays about race in America.
Delaney’s work has also been in the spotlight nationally. In October, New York Times critic Roberta Smith reviewed an exhibition at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, in New York, and wrote in her review that Delaney’s work “is one of the signal achievements of 20th-century American art.”
And beyond the works themselves, local leaders have been working to ensure that the Delaney family’s legacy is remembered.
The Beck Center – which documents African-American history in Knoxville – in August held a groundbreaking for a new museum at 1935 Dandridge Avenue. The site is located next door to the Beck Center and includes a residence that was purchased by Samuel Emery Delaney – the older brother of Beauford and Joseph – and served as the family’s home after Beauford and Joseph had left Knoxville. The Beck Center purchased the property in 2015, and is planning to restore it.
Kesler, the Beck Center’s president, said that even after Beauford Delaney moved to Paris, he carried Knoxville in his heart.
“I think today he’s going to be a model for a lot of our students to say that we can embrace great talent,” she added. “And bringing his name here to Knoxville and showcasing him here, my hope is to inspire other young artists and creators and students that no matter what the odds, what the challenges, that your gift can be celebrated and encouraged.”
Carter Students Embrace
New Dual-Credit OptionPosted by JOSH FLORY on 1/28/2022
Riley Duval is planning to study nursing at Middle Tennessee State University after graduating from high school this spring. But when she arrives on campus in Murfreesboro, the Carter High School senior will already have credits in hand.
Duval is one of six Carter High students who recently passed a new dual credit course called “Nutrition Across the Lifespan.” The course was taught by Carter teacher Heather Wade, and focuses on topics including food safety, macro and micro nutrients, digestion, healthy cooking, and the role of nutrition in health.
In addition, it is closely aligned with MTSU’s Principles of Nutrition class. By passing a comprehensive dual credit exam, Duval and her classmates earned three hours of college credit.
Duval is hoping to become a pediatric ICU nurse, and said she enjoys the thought of helping families when their children are sick. And the ability to get a jump start on college before graduating from Carter? “It feels good,” she said.
Across the district, KCS high schools offer a variety of dual credit courses, as well as dual enrollment courses that are taught by college faculty on college campuses. These courses and other Early Postsecondary Opportunities, or EPSOs, provide an important option for students to gain exposure to college-level work and to earn credits at a significantly reduced price while in high school.
Wade, who is finishing her 13th year as a teacher at Carter, said in this case, MTSU provided detailed study materials to prepare for the dual credit exam, and that even if students don’t attend MTSU their credits may be transferable to another institution.
Wade said she is extremely proud of her students for leading the way on a new course, and pointed out that the dual credit opportunity is available for students as early as their sophomore year.
“That’s a really cool opportunity that might be life-changing for some of these kids,” she added. “Especially some kids who may be first-generation college students.”
Outreach Specialist Works To Engage
Spanish-Speaking FamiliesPosted by JOSH FLORY on 1/12/2022
A trailblazing entrepreneur and civil servant who immigrated to the United States at the age of 17 is putting her skills and experience to work on behalf of KCS students and families.
Patricia Robledo is the founder of a local translation / interpretation business and previously served as the City of Knoxville’s business and development liaison.
Last year, Robledo was hired to serve as Knox County Schools’ first Latino community outreach specialist, a role in which she is working to increase engagement and improve communication with Spanish-speaking families and others that are not fluent in English.
As part of that effort, Robledo has created a new Spanish-language Facebook page, and has been a key member of the Alliance For Educational Equity’s communications team. Approximately 8 percent of the district’s more than 61,000 students speak Spanish, and 5.1 percent are designated as English learners. Robledo’s work is focused on initiatives to ensure those families and others have access to information they need about the district and its schools.
As a former KCS parent and volunteer, Robledo said she is excited to implement strategies that improve family communication. “Communication leads to engagement, which will hopefully lead to better educational outcomes,” she said. “It’s all part of a bigger picture that the district has, and whatever role I can play in helping with that will be great.”
Robledo’s own life journey illustrates the challenges and opportunities for Spanish-speaking families and immigrants. When she moved to Knoxville with her family in 1981, she initially had limited English proficiency but began volunteering at the World’s Fair in 1982 as part of a team that welcomed visitors who spoke other languages.
She eventually attended the University of Tennessee, then finished a double-major in biology and medical technology at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, before moving to New Hampshire where her two children were born.
In 1995, she moved back to Tennessee with her family, and eventually received a call from Levi’s, which was looking for an interpreter to assist in communicating with Spanish-speaking employees.
That experience sparked an entrepreneurial drive, and she launched Robledo Translations, a company that went on to work with a variety of private-sector firms as well as the federal government. She also became a founding member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee.
In 2011, she received a call from Knoxville Mayor-Elect Madeline Rogero, asking her to join the new administration as the first director of the new Office of Business Support. She worked for the city throughout Rogero’s term, and was asked to remain by current Mayor Indya Kincannon after Kincannon was elected in 2019.
Looking back, Robledo said the appointment was an amazing opportunity. “Never would I have thought, after arriving in Knoxville at the age of 17 with limited English proficiency, that maybe one day the newly elected and first female mayor of the City of Knoxville would call me and invite me and appoint me as the first Latina immigrant ever to be appointed to a city administration in Knoxville,” she said. “It was a great, great honor.”
As the Spanish-speaking population within KCS has grown, the district in recent years has been focused on sharpening its communication strategy to reach families who are English-language learners.
Carly Harrington, KCS Chief Public Affairs Officer, said Robledo’s long experience as an advocate and community leader along with her background in translation services, made her a perfect fit for the new role within the district.
“Patricia is very well-respected in the Latino and greater Knoxville community, and a wonderful addition to our team,” said Harrington. “Her commitment and passion for helping students and families have already proven invaluable as we broaden our communication efforts and ensure that we are providing a welcoming environment for all.”
Robledo is currently working on projects including a Spanish-language video library for families; a user-friendly translation tool for the KCS website; improvements to the district’s family messaging system; and focus groups to assess the district’s communication strategies.
Throughout her career, she has enjoyed finding solutions, whether that meant assisting lost patrons at the World’s Fair, providing language services for businesses or helping city stakeholders navigate the administration to get the assistance they need.
“And I think my role here at KCS is the same,” she added. “I may not know everything, but I’ll ask a lot of questions and at the end I’ll hopefully act as a bridge.”
Karns High Podcast
Keeps Students InformedPosted by JOSH FLORY on 12/17/2021
Journalism students at Karns High School are using a new platform to help their classmates stay informed.
This fall, ELA teacher Rachel Monday’s class launched “Dispatches From The Dam”, an interview-style podcast that highlights students, school leaders and local celebrities with a Karns connection.
Senior Caleb Jarreau is the show host, and got his start by working as a sportswriter for the school newspaper. Jarreau said that when he first was approached about the new role, he was concerned about the challenges that were involved.
“Now I realize that it’s not easy, but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said. “And I didn’t realize how much fun I would have doing it.”
Jarreau’s interview subjects have included fellow students, KHS principal Brad Corum and WBIR anchors Leslie Ackerson and Heather Waliga, who are Karns alumni.
Jarreau said that before launching the project, he mostly listened to sports podcasts, but more recently his listening consumption has broadened. Since creating his own show, he also hears professional podcasts with a greater attention to detail.
“It’s kind of like I’m thinking of it from an analytical standpoint,” he said. “Yeah, they’re talking about a current event but I also understand what's going on in the production, or if they played a newsclip I know how they did that. It’s kind of cool to think about now, understanding it from basically behind the scenes.”
The project was made possible by a $500 grant from the Junior League. Monday, who also facilitates the school newspaper, said she enjoys listening to podcasts while commuting or working around the house, and was excited to explore a new media trend. “This gives them something that, really, if they had $500, they could do a podcast on their own,” she said of her students. “You don’t have to necessarily be hired at the News Sentinel to be covering news in your backyard.”
“Dispatches From The Dam” – whose name refers to the school mascot, the Beavers – is available on Apple and Spotify, and can also be found on the website of The Karns Chronicle. The most recent episode included interviews with Monday and other KHS Teachers of the Year.
While Jarreau will be graduating in the spring, other students are ready to take the reins next year, including junior Emily Moore and sophomore Violet Whitson.
Moore writes the entertainment column for The Chronicle, but said she’s excited to try a different medium.
“A podcast is so different, it’s just having a conversation that you then put out to the world, and it gives the creator a place to be creative and it gives the person they’re interviewing a pulpit to give their two cents from,” she said. “And I think especially with the school that we have, there’s a lot of people that deserve a pulpit.”
KCS Community Gives, Receives
During HolidaysPosted by JOSH FLORY on 12/17/2021
As district schools prepared for Winter Break this month, final exams and end-of-semester activities weren’t the only items on the calendar. Across Knox County, students, families and school employees took time to give -- and receive -- gestures of kindness in the holiday spirit.
At Austin-East Magnet High School, ELA teacher Skikila Smith -- known to her students as “Ms. Sky” -- has been coordinating an informal holiday shoe drive since joining the Roadrunner family as an intern in 2017.
Smith said that when she lost her children’s father at the age of 21, her family benefited from local Angel Tree programs that provided holiday gifts, and she is also grateful for all the people who supported her when she got her master’s degree at the age of 42.
The shoe drive is a way to give back and help students in need put their best foot forward, and Smith said A-E teachers help to identify potential recipients.
“It would not be possible without a teacher that is looking to cultivate the entire human, and uplift the entire family,” she added.
In some cases, the effort to assist families in need has been adjusted because of COVID-19. LeighAnna Colgrove, a Farragut High School parent, coordinates a Giving Tree program that supports families at four schools in that community.
Colgrove said that in the past, the program would provide a clothing gift bag to families and give them a chance to pick a donated toy. Because of COVID, organizers last year adjusted the campaign to a drive-up event in which gift cards were provided.
Colgrove said the feedback they received was positive, not only because of the additional privacy of the drive-up format but also because it allowed families to shop for their own Christmas gifts.
This year, she said, organizers did shop for a handful of families who had transportation or medical challenges, but gift cards were mostly provided. In addition, because donations exceeded expectations, they were also able to provide coats and shoes, while private donors provided school hoodies, a Walmart gift card and a food box.
“We were just overwhelmed by the generosity this year,” Colgrove said.
KCS students have also benefited from the generosity of outside organizations, including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Shelli Eberle, principal of Fort Sanders Educational Development Center, said Children’s does an annual Christmas tree drive at the school in honor of a former patient who passed away.
The drive has grown so significantly that this year, ETCH was able to provide 125 mini-trees – one for each student.
Eberle said students have enjoyed the chance to take home an individual tree, and that the drive has been a bright spot of the holiday season.
“Seeing the joy on each child's face as they picked out their very own tree to take home was an important reminder to look for the magic of the holiday season," she said. "We are so grateful to have ETCH as such an incredible Partner in Education.”
A-E Students Earn
Flagship Offers From UTKPosted by JOSHUA FLORY on 12/9/2021
Three seniors from Austin-East Magnet High School saw their academic efforts pay off in a big way this week, thanks to a scholarship program from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
During a surprise celebration at the school on Wednesday, UT’s Redrick Taylor III made admissions offers to Zakoyous Houston, Anndrena Downs and Mariusi Irankunda.
The offers are part of the university’s Flagship Scholarship, which is available for students at A-E, Fulton and Central high schools. When combined with the HOPE Scholarship, the Flagship program covers a student’s tuition and mandatory fees for up to eight semesters.
The offers were made during a ceremony in the school’s performing arts auditorium, with friends and family members looking on.
Lashaundra Lenoir said Houston, her stepson, has been checking the mailbox for weeks hoping to find an acceptance letter, because UT is his top choice.
“He’s the oldest of four brothers in my household and he’s a leader,” she added. “He’s leading by example so it’s very exciting for his younger brothers to see him getting accepted to his top pick.”
For Downs, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA during her time at A-E, the acceptance into one of her top college choices is a first step toward pursuing a dream of majoring in biology, while honing the leadership skills she began to develop in high school.
Asked what it means to be a Roadrunner, Downs said it’s a family -- “having people in your reach at all times who will do whatever for you when it comes down to it.”
Bearden Student Aces
Entrance Exam ... Twice!Posted by JOSH FLORY on 10/29/2021
After earning a perfect composite score on the ACT exam, a Bearden High School student had an impressive encore -- a perfect score on the SAT!
Lydia Pulsinelli is a senior at Bearden, and stellar academic performance is only a part of her resume. She has also participated in theater, played on the Ultimate Frisbee team for four years, and serves as president of the Latin Club.
But her performance on the two college entrance exams puts her in rare company among high school students.
Pulsinelli said she took several practice tests to prepare, adding that when she takes a high-stakes test, “I just sort of go into a different mental zone, just really focused for those few hours. And then I come out of it and can barely remember what just happened.”
In her spare time, the senior enjoys hiking and gardening and said she is aiming for a career in agricultural science or a similar field. In the meantime, she is applying to colleges including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Vermont, Cornell University and the University of Washington.
Pulsinelli cited the influence of her teachers at Bearden, including Sandy Hughes, for Latin and Medieval Studies; Tonya Henke, for Environmental Science; Chris Taylor, for AP U.S. History; and Tim Vacek, for AP Seminar.
She said she particularly likes classes that combine learning and fun, adding that “In general, I enjoy school.”
Lighting Upgrade Saves Energy,
Helps Student-Athletes ShinePosted by JOSH FLORY on 10/7/2021
A project that aims to save energy and improve lighting for Knox County students is making a visible difference at high schools across the county.
Earlier this year, the Board of Education approved a proposal from Trane Technologies to convert school lighting to LED technology, using new and retrofitted fixtures. The $26.1 million project is fully self-funded through guaranteed utility and operational savings, and will replace existing lighting in classrooms, parking lots and other settings.
Perhaps the highest-profile change has come at athletic fields. Replacement lighting has now been installed at most of the district’s stadiums, and has not only resulted in improved visibility, but also provides additional features to promote school spirit.
Unlike traditional stadium lights which need to warm up, the LED system can be turned on and off immediately. The new system can also provide light-show style displays with multiple colors and patterns.
Clark Duncan, football coach and athletic director at South-Doyle High School, said the quality of the Trane system was immediately noticeable, especially compared to the previous system.
“There were times on our field that there were dark spots, at times it wasn’t lit well enough,” Duncan said. “We were told that the new system was going to be like daytime, and oh my gosh, it’s just like daytime. It’s like noon at nine o’clock. It’s amazing how well you can see.”
At South-Doyle, School Security Officer Michael Cain has worked with student leaders who asked to implement a light show after the third quarter of football games. With approval from administrators, students pick a song that is played as part of the display.
Cain said student attendance has risen this year, adding that “To me it makes Friday nights even better.”
Ultimately, of course, the lighting project is all about reducing energy consumption and providing savings for schools across the district -- even on the football field.
Zane Foraker, energy manager for Knox County Schools, said that instead of turning stadium lights on several hours before a game, coaches can now wait until they’re needed. After games, they can be automated to turn off at midnight. Most important, he said, is the cost savings from lower energy use.
“This is paid for with the energy savings. So over the term of the contract Knox County is not spending any money on these, they pay for themselves.”