Archive for: January 2013

Helping your kids understand money

Needs vs. Wants

By Kristina Howard, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union Marketing Specialist

Teaching your children money management skills is a critical part of their future. Good habits start early in life and the savings habit brings lifelong benefits. Here are some simple suggestions to teach your kids the value of money.

Understanding personal finance and how money works for you can make a tremendous difference to you and your family. It can heighten your financial well-being, increase your sense of control, and give you a more positive outlook on life in general. Learning good habits early in life can make managing money easier over the long run. Read more →

Capturing moments

By Chad Branton



Chad Branton and family

Chad Branton, his son Clay and wife Melissa enjoy a quiet moment on the beach.

The time we have with our children flies by so fast. All we really have are the wonderful, fleeting moments that make life magical and teach us what is important. I want remember as many of those moments as I can, so I started a journal – things I don’t want to forget about my boy. Read more →

No right or wrong

The arts let kids explore choices

Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville


By reading this article you are demonstrating the traits of an involved, attentive parent; you are looking for tips and information to improve your parenting skills and give your child(ren) the best experiences you can afford.

Your well-loved child is often involved in sports (which is wonderful). They sit in tutoring sessions. They take tests and evaluations of every kind. As our children mature, each begins to feel the need to distinguish himself as being the fastest runner, the best dribbler, the most perfect speller, the nicest, the best looking.

A good kid worries that a wrong decision could disappoint his parents, teachers, neighbors, or friends.

By the age of six report cards look like score cards.

Kids go out the door each morning hearing: “Make good decisions today, darling!”

With so many opportunities to disappoint and the pervading impression many kids have that so much of life is hanging in the balance at each intersection, I am thankful that there is at least one arena for kids in which every creative decision can be a good one.


“The perfect lab for the safe exercise of every sort of decision, the arts provide a canvas that recognizes no right or wrong.”


Involvement in the arts gives kids positive control over their creative decisions. They allow a measure of abandon to all of us to which we can forever return.  The perfect lab for the safe exercise of every sort of decision, the arts provide a canvas that recognizes no right or wrong. Dancing freestyle.  (Is there a more beautiful marriage of two words?) The production of live theater requires rehearsal time, in part to give actors the opportunity to experiment with different interpretations, movements, inflections, motivations.  In fact, we often refer to an actor’s performance of a role as a series of decisions made by him.

The child can find in the arts a home allowing endless experimentation.  In the world of the arts, fear has no place because it is impossible for any creative, conscious decision to be wrong.

Christopher Logue captures the freedom the arts offers to the decision-weary child:

Apollinaire said    
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
Come to the edge!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.


There is a great deal to life that should be categorized as wrong or right. There are good decisions and very bad decisions… but isn’t it wonderful that your child can visit a place where whatever he chooses, it’s right?


Liza Zenni's PhotoLiza Zenni has been with the Arts & Culture Alliance since 2002. She holds a BA in Theater and a MFA in Arts Administration from the Yale School of Drama. From 1990 to 1995 she was Executive Director of Theatre Bay Area, the largest regional theater service organization in North America.  She and her two daughters live in Oak Ridge, not far from where she grew up.

Make a decision!

Family and School New Year’s Resolutions:

Follow the ABCs of Preparing for an “After High School” Future

By Tracey Matthews, Knox County Schools Supervisor of Family and Community Engagement


It’s that time again! The New Year is when we traditionally make new resolutions that we hope to follow at least during the year in which we make them. The following “resolutions” are more like commitments we hope our readers will embrace and practice until they bear fruit. This month we hope to offer some suggested decisions for parents/guardians, students, and schools that will not only impact this year but the future success of our students as well.


Read more →

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

By Chief Lee Tramel, Knox County Sheriff’s Office


Walking through the Knox county court system you can hear some amazing stories. One day this past December, after I had stepped into three of our 28 courtrooms, I decided to make that trip my topic for this article. Read more →

Magic Tens

By Mike O’Hern, Center Director of Mathnasium of West Knoxville


Memorizing math facts can be quite an arduous process, and exceedingly few students actually like it.  Beyond that, what’s the value of memorizing a ton of math facts?  The student typically memorizes these facts for the moment, but then they quickly fade away.  Then if you ask “seven plus what number is 13?” and he doesn’t remember that fact at the moment, out come the fingers to count it up. Read more →

Is joining Facebook logical?

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


Should I join Facebook? How should I decide? I’ve been reading an interesting book by David McRaney entitled You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself. McRaney discusses the varied cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies that influence our decision making and make many of our choices less than logical. Could these cognitive traps influence my evaluation of Facebook? Read more →

Dear Knox County School’s Families

By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools

Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,

While I may not be the first, let me be among the many to wish you a very Happy New Year!

The New Year signifies a rebirth and anticipation of a fresh beginning to a new year.  But it is also a celebration of the previous year coming full circle and recognition of accomplishments.  We have experienced tremendous accomplishments during 2012, such as positive gains in virtually every quantifiable student academic outcome measure.  Additional information on our academic progress can be found at

As we head into the New Year, we too are making our share of resolutions.  On Thursday, January 17, I will be delivering my second annual State of the Schools Address.  This report will outline our goals and objectives for the coming year, as well as highlight the additional work necessary to provide our students with an excellent education in today’s increasingly competitive global environment.  The event is open to the public, so I hope you will make plans to attend on January 17 at 6 p.m. at Powell High School, located at 2136 West Emory Road in Powell.

Thank you, in advance, for your support of public education as we begin a new year.  Your support of our young people is critical as we work together to achieve our very ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.



Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools

Decision-making: For now and for life

By Piotr Ulmer, MSPT


In the past, I thought decision-making was all about intelligence, wisdom and experience. I had paid thorough attention to making “smart” decisions. I constantly strived to figure out and analyze all the involved components of my reality before any “big” decisions were made. I thought I couldn’t afford any wrong decisions.

Despite this, I’ve made mistakes.  I noticed early on, though, that making mistakes is a great way to learn how to make my future decisions better. For example, I was about 20 or 21 years old, when I took a train from Siedlce to Warsaw (about 100 km) to submit my college application. Read more →

College decisions – Class of 2014

By Liz Stucke


Which would you prefer: a choice among five different jams or a choice among twenty different jams?  Most people according to Sheena Iyengar in her book The Art of Choosing, say they would prefer a choice among twenty jams.  However, in her famous “Jam Study” she found that when presented with twenty different jams, customers did not buy any at all.  They walked away, overwhelmed and unable to make any decision.  Read more →