Archive for: June 2013

Go forth, and get dirty!


by John DiDiego, Education Director. Photos courtesy Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.


TremontMuddyTremont’s educational program is a thing of beauty. We get kids discovering the national park, we meet state education standards, and we boast a professional staff that creates a safe learning wonderland for kids of all ages. We teach people how to enjoy the outdoors in a responsible way that minimizes impact on the land. All of this makes good sense and fits well with our mission of connecting people and nature while fostering stewardship of the park. Read more →

Being smart behind the wheel

By Chief Lee Tramel, Knox County Sheriff’s Office


Tramel-June2013When I was 16-years-old, I remember thinking, “As long as I stay in my lane I can drive as fast as the road will allow.” This “no fear”, “too young to die” attitude is partly the reason that the number one killer for people between the ages of 15 and 20-years-old is due to auto accidents. Car crashes kill more than 5,000 teens each year. Inexperience, risk taking, and driver distraction are all contributing factors. Cell phone use, loud music, changing discs, as well as tuning the radio, are also potentially deadly distractions behind the wheel. When the teen driver has friends in the car, the risk is even higher. The more passengers, the greater the chance of a serious crash. Read more →

They are all the fun years

By Paul Gentry

“I am trying hard to slow down, because time seems to be speeding up. My boys will be in college in just ten short years, growing into men with lives of their own.”


Melody, Paul, John, Luke and Andrew Gentry

Melody, Paul, John, Luke and Andrew Gentry

Eight years would have seemed like a long time, if you had walked up and started a discussion with me on the perception of time a few years ago. It was roughly eight years ago that my wife and I were going through fertility treatments, and, after four years of failed attempts, we found out things were finally paying off with positive results. That was June of 2006, and my wife’s pregnancy paid off…times three! My triplet sons will celebrate their eighth birthday this coming January, but it seems like decades ago since they were born, with little time to reflect on what has occurred since: running to work, home for supper, basketball practice, cub scouts, church, swim team meets, string recitals. The list goes on. Read more →

PolandNow: Learning about contemporary Polish culture

By Michael Kull with photos by Edward Foley Photography


When you think of European culture, as compared to American culture, what images immediately come to mind? For some it’s pictures of cobblestone streets lined with 18th century (and older!) buildings, men and women in colorful folk costumes, and traditional foods prepared simply and heaped on platters. Even today, images like these are hard to shake.

This is exactly the conception that was wonderfully challenged on May 3, when Knoxville allergist and Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland Dr. Marek Pienkowski and Knoxville Parent’s own Eva Nations, President of the PolandNow organization, presented PolandNow 2013: A Celebration of Contemporary Polish Culture.

This unique ice sculpture was carved by chef Edward Nowakoski.

This unique ice sculpture was carved by chef Edward Nowakoski.

The event, sponsored by the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation and Knoxville Parent Magazine, with support from the City of Knoxville, Preservation Pub and Oodles Uncorked, The Arts & Culture Alliance, the University of Tennessee, and Instytut Adama Mickiewicza was spread over three locations in downtown Knoxville (The Emporium Gallery, Market Square and the UT Conference Center), and featured contemporary cuisine, graphic arts, cinema and jazz.

PolandNow1Unlike the more traditional festival with folk dancing, kielbasa and pierogies (Polish dumplings with fillings like potato, cheese and meat), this event focused on the Poland of today, a culturally rich, economically powerful, world presence. Poland has long since emerged from the repressive Communist rule that ended in 1989. It has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and served as President of the EU Council in 2012. Its economy has weathered recession better than its European counterparts, and its descendants have made important contributions to modern fields like science (Nobel Prize winning physicist Georges Charpak), technology (Apple Cofounder Steve Wozniak), religion (Pope John Paul II), arts (composer Henryk Górecki), entertainment (MGM’s Samuel Goldwyn), and sports (hockey great Wayne Gretzky)


“Unlike the more traditional festival with folk dancing, kielbasa and pierogies, this event focused on the Poland of today.”


Poland’s first (and only) Michelin star rated chef Wojciech Amaro prepares his culinary presentation for PolandNow 2013.

Poland’s first (and only) Michelin star rated chef Wojciech Amaro prepares his culinary presentation for PolandNow 2013.

Visiting master chef Edward Nowakowski preparing just one of his many Polish-inspired hors d'oeuvre for PolandNow 2013.

Visiting master chef Edward Nowakowski preparing just one of his many Polish-inspired hors d’oeuvres for PolandNow 2013.

This is the Poland that PolandNow 2013 celebrated on May 3, Poland’s Constitution Day (and similar in nature to the July 4th U.S. Independence Day). The event featured a dinner prepared using the advanced techniques of molecular gastronomy by Poland’s only Michelin star rated chef, Wojciech Modest Amaro, from Warsaw; an exhibition of contemporary Polish print making from the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław; appetizers made from classic Polish ingredients prepared in a modern way by visiting master chef Edward Nowakowski of Memphis, TN; Academy Award winning Polish films; and contemporary jazz performed by Undercurrents Quartet and Baseball the Band.

Deputy Chief of Missions Maciej Pisarski, PolandNow President Eva Nations, and Honorary Consul and PolandNow Founder Dr. Marek Pienkowski.

Deputy Chief of Missions Maciej Pisarski, PolandNow President Eva Nations, and Honorary Consul and PolandNow Founder Dr. Marek Pienkowski.

Kicking off the event was a formal ceremony led by PolandNow President Eva Nations with remarks by Honorary Consul Marek Pienkowski, Deputy to the Mayor of Knoxville Eddie Mannis, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland Maciej Pisarski.

Those who attended were treated to great entertainment, one-of-a-kind culinary experiences, a unique display of visual art, and all the color and excitement that a public festival deserves, all updated to the present day.

Plans are already being made for PolandNow 2014, once again scheduled on Poland’s Constitution Day, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Next year’s event promises to build on the success of this year’s with even more entertainment, activities, and great food, so mark your calendar now! For more information about PolandNow and upcoming events, visit

Learn to manage: Education in addition to therapy and medication

by John Frederick Wolfe, M.D.

June2013-WolfeJuvenile rheumatic diseases are frequently chronic problems that extend over years. Over the past several decades we have made tremendous strides in slowing down, stopping and preventing various aspects of these diseases, but, we have not yet found a cure. Until then, enjoying a good quality of life with the disease is the challenge for young kids and teenagers. Read more →

To bee or not to bee: Allergic to insects?

by Marek M. Pienkowski, M.D., Ph.D.



School is out, and we all enjoy time outdoors with our families. Unfortunately, this increases one’s chances of being stung by flying insects or ants.

Although there are over 16,000 species of stinging insects of the order Hymenoptera, only less than 1% are responsible for all insect stings. These belong to the family of honey bees (Apidae), yellow jackets and hornets (Vespidae), wasps (Hypenoptera) and fire ants (Formicidae family). Only the females of each of these species have stingers and only honey bees leave stingers in the skin. Most insects sting to defend themselves, so it is always best not to disturb their peace. The most aggressive insects are yellow jackets, which build nests in the ground and in various structures. In addition, yellow jackets feed in trash and picnic areas, so watch out! Read more →

Summertime orthodontic emergencies

Some “home remedies” when you’re away from home

by Jeffrey Eberting, D.M.D., M.S.






June2013-EbertingAs the song from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” goes: “Summertime, and the living is easy.”  Well, sometimes it is not so easy when you have a family member in orthodontic treatment, are on vacation, and have a wire poking into his or her cheek.  How are you supposed to handle these emergencies?  I will give you some tips to help you through those trying times. Read more →

Dear Knox County School’s Families

By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools

Dear Knox County Schools’ Families,

Welcome to summer!

While the summer months usually mean relaxation, vacations, and plenty of down time, the Knox County Schools are hard at work preparing for the 2013-14 school year.

We began summer with one very important achievement.  The Knox County Commission voted unanimously to approve the Knox County Schools fiscal year 2014 budget, which will focus our resources on sustaining instructional improvement initiatives, enhancing educator compensation, facilitating personalized learning through technology, and bolstering student safety efforts.  I applaud Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, the Knox County Commission, and our Knox County Board of Education for supporting a budget that will allow us to continue and deepen our core instructional work, without creating a significant additional burden on the taxpayers of our community.

There are also many initiatives we are working on this summer, including:

  • Continued work in implementing the Common Core State Standards, which will better prepare students for college and career.  These standards emphasize thinking, problem solving and creativity and equip students with skills to live and compete in a global environment.
  • The 11 schools who won the School Technology Challenge are hard at work to begin planning for 1:1 technology at their respective schools (one technology device for each one student, and each one teacher).  I believe selecting a small, representative sample of schools to embrace instructional technology will leverage the creativity and expertise within our schools, build capacity for future expansion, and demonstrate success in schools across our community.
  • Communications efforts are underway to remind parents that proof of immunizations is a state requirement for entering kindergartners and seventh graders.  Immunizations are available at personal physicians’ offices and at any location of the Knox County Health Department.
  • Our transfer office is diligently working over the next several weeks on the summer transfer process.  The transfer window is currently open and will end on Friday, July 12, 2013 at 4 p.m.
  • Preparations for 6th and 9th grade orientations is underway – orientation day is set for Friday, August 9, 2013, for these students. Watch for more information in your mail.

More information about all of these initiatives can be found on our website at or please feel free to call our office at (865) 594-1800 if we can assist you in any way.

Finally, please keep in mind that while we are taking a vacation from school, we should not take a vacation from learning.  Reading programs are a great solution to reduce the risk of summer learning loss.  If you take just 20 minutes a day to read – or read to your young child – it will pay tremendous dividends in helping your child experience academic success and in helping us achieve our ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.

Dr. Jim McIntyre
Superintendent, Knox County Schools



Here’s your chance…The secret to learning percentages

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


June2013OHernYou probably have a pretty good idea of what percentage is, at least in some circumstances.  When there’s a sale for 20% off, you know that your $100 item will be $80, right?  Or at least you know that an 80% chance of rain means it’s likely you’ll get wet, and a 10% chance means you might get the motorcycle out.

But your child may not yet really have a grasp on the concept, and if he takes the traditional route to learning percentages it may be quite a long time before he makes sense of it.  But I’ve got students in 2nd and 3rd grade who can tell you what 5% of 250 is in their head, so let’s simplify it a bit and see if he can learn something new today! Read more →

Fun, creative summer family reading and writing ideas

By Tracey Matthews, Knox County Schools Supervisor of Family and Community Engagement
Contributing writer:  Eliott Reese and Mary Frances Street, KCS Family and Community Engagement, University of Tennessee Student Interns


Even though school may be out for now, there are still plenty of opportunities for our children to continue reading and writing this summer! There are moments every day, even during summer days, where we can foster our children’s reading and writing through fun, family activities. Whether it’s playing word games together or writing a letter to your child’s favorite author, we can add activities to our summer fun that also encourage and strengthen reading, vocabulary, and writing skills. Check out these fun and creative ideas! Read more →