Archive for: December 2012

The gift of disappointment

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.


This past Spring Break, we were preparing to go on a trip to the mountains, and my younger son wanted a new Lego set to take with him. He had saved some money, and he knew which set he wanted. We headed to Target, but they did not have the popular set, so we went to Toys R Us. As my younger son rounded the corner to the Lego display, all he saw were empty shelves. He was crushed, and his face fell halfway to the floor. I could tell he was going to cry. Read more →

The gift of education

By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools

Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,

The holiday season is upon us, filled with cheer and goodwill.  As we enjoy this special time, let’s be certain to remember that many of our most precious gifts in life simply can’t be wrapped. The gift of education is just one of many that quickly come to mind.

As Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.”

I certainly believe this to be true. Our latest Tennessee State Report Card shows that based on a variety of academic indicators, our school system is delivering a high quality education to our students. This year, the Knox County Schools’ graduation rate rose to 90.3, an increase of 3.7 percent over the previous year. This was 3.1 percent higher than the state’s average of 87.2 percent.

Further reflecting the tremendous strides being made in the classroom, ACT scores also continued to improve. This year, the composite ACT score was 20.6. Gains were also made in overall proficiency rates for all four tested subject areas on the TCAP for grades 3-8 (reading/language arts, math, science and social studies). I encourage you to visit to access the full 2012 Report Card – it showcases strong, steady academic progress.

I am extremely proud of the hard work and commitment of our teachers, staff, students, parents and community. Dedicated teachers, high standards, continuous improvement, research-based instructional strategies and the concept of multiple pathways to success are making a difference in terms of positive student academic achievement and growth.

Education is a very powerful gift. With your support, the Knox County Schools is continuing to make significant strides to reach our very ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.

I hope that you have a joyful holiday season this year.




Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools

The gift of experiences

By Liz Stucke


The Lego Ninjago, Destiny’s Bounty is the toy my son most desired for his birthday. It was wonderful to watch him open his birthday gift. As he tore off the wrapping paper and saw the images of Sensei Wu and the Masters of Spinjitzu spinning around the dragon ship, he began to shake and then jump up and down, “Thank you, thank you, Mom and Dad! This is exactly what I wanted. I love you soooo much.” Read more →

The gift of history

By John Joslyn


Photo by Ralph WhiteAs a young boy growing up in Wisconsin, I first encountered RMS Titanic when I read Sea Disasters, a collection of stories published by Columbia House Book Club. Each page filled me with wonder and amazement as Titanic’s life-and-death struggle unfolded. Little did I know, this book – this ship – would one day shape my destiny.

That day dawned in 1987 as I prepared to co-lead a six-million dollar expedition to the wreck site some two years after Titanic’s incredible, joint discovery by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the French exploratory agency, IFREMER. Our team’s mission was to explore the wreckage, retrieve artifacts, and bring back film footage of the broken ship. These priceless images were shared with millions of people when “Return to the Titanic…Live” television show aired October 1987.  I co-produced this television special with Doug Llewelyn after returning from the expedition.  With the help of an exceptionally talented crew, this Titanic special was the second-highest rated show of its time, something I still have pride and delight in today.

Titanic’s discovery sparked the imagination of people around the world. As this grand, ill-fated ship experienced a rebirth, a new generation fell under her spell. At the same time, my dream of creating a permanent Titanic museum attraction began to take shape. Twenty years later, the World’s Largest Titanic Museum Attraction opened in April 2006 in Branson, Missouri.  With the second one  following 2010 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Photo courtesy John Joslyn

Photo courtesy John Joslyn

From the beginning, I knew Titanic’s story was timeless and would be told and retold for generations to come. Unfortunately, myth and mystery attached themselves to her legacy over the years, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. I was determined – obsessed, really – to get it right.  After my emotional visit to the decaying hulk of that once-magnificent ship, I felt obligated to honor the people who faced death that cold April night in 1912. I knew then that their stories of courage, sacrifice, and survival were the real building blocks and an enduring Titanic tribute.

Having a dream and making it come true would take more encouragement and support than I could have imagined. Fortunately, I discovered there are hundreds of knowledgeable people around the world – scholars, collectors, artists, and writers whose lives, like mine, had been touched by Titanic. In building Titanic Museum Attractions, I had invaluable assistance from this esteemed, international “family,” and I am grateful to each and every one who helped make this man’s impossible dream come true.


John Joslyn is President and CEO of Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. His association with Titanic began in the mid-1980s, when he co-founded and served as General Manager of Titanic Ventures Limited Partnership, the predecessor company to R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. He also mounted and acted as the Co-Expedition Leader of the 1987 Titanic Expedition in collaboration with the distinguished French Institute for Research and Exploration of the Sea (“IFREMER”).