Archive for: October 2013

Digging Deeper to Reach Any Goal

by Chris O’Hearn, Certified Personal Trainer


Oct2013-FtSandersOur mistakes are influencing our children’s mistakes. Let’s face it. Kids see what we do no matter how well we think we’re hiding it.  They are more observant than we give them credit for, and they are learning more through what we do rather than what we say.  Think about it. If your boss tells you how you need to act but then goes and does something totally opposite, do you respect him as much? So, when kids see us struggle with our goals, they will either see that not everything in life is easy, and things that are worthwhile can be difficult, or they will see that if things get hard it’s okay to give up. Read more →

Discovering Their Prestige

by Zac Schnell, Summer Intern at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont


Tremont-Oct2013There are many kids who show up at Tremont, and those who do have the opportunity to enjoy an experience like none other: living and learning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Many people have asked me, “How does it work with 9 to 12 year old kids?”  With a smiling smirk, it is easy to reply with, “It’s like experiencing a magic trick over and over again.”

Many magic tricks contain three steps known as The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige.  A week at Tremont exemplifies these three steps. Read more →

The God Box

A creative tool for “letting go”

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.

Oct2013-KSmithIn my family we have a God Box. It’s nothing fancy. It’s actually an old Florsheim shoe box, circa 1995, with a partition inside and two slots in the lid. Even though humble in appearance, this box is treasured for the assistance it has provided to me, my husband and our sons.  In this article, I will explain the concept of the God Box and provide instructions for making one of your own. Read more →

Staying After-School at Pond Gap

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“Pond Gap has the answer: provide needed support with daily activities, teach engaging skills after-school, and show students and parents that ‘school’ is a way of life.”


A Pond Gap student practices interviewing skills with his classmates during a music and performance class led by Ronda Mostella.

When school was out at Pond Gap in the 60s, I went home to watch television. My folks were often still working, so I grabbed a snack in time for the start of the Early Show, a program that showed mostly reruns of old Tarzan movies. I sat for hours by myself not wanting to miss prime time shows like Andy Griffith or the Beverly Hillbillies. If I were attending Pond Gap Elementary today, however, my childhood would be different.  I would be able to stay at school and participate in a wide range of fun, creative activities, take field trips to local events, and even have dinner.

Bob Kronick had this vision of a full-service community school in the late 1990s. A professor of educational psychology at UT, Bob was researching how to improve academic achievement in Title 1 schools, those schools whose student body comes from less advantaged backgrounds and often includes children of immigrant families. He later encountered the university-assisted community school movement and convinced James McIntyre, then the incoming superintendent of Knox County schools, to let him design a program for use in local schools. In 2010, Susan Esperitu, the principal at Pond Gap, joined forces with Bob and Pond Gap became a national model for delivery of a wide range of after-school services. This model receives generous support from several sources, including local philanthropist Randy Boyd, United Way, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Just how comprehensive are these after-school services? Mark Benson currently coordinates the myriad of offerings. He notes that students receive extra help with academic subjects such as reading and mathematics. Students can also take lessons in art and music year round. Problem solving and team building skills are taught through such activities as science night, cooking classes, and the stilt-walking club. Medical and eye exams are provided on site as well as washers and dryers. Counseling services are available to help students with difficult issues such as the loss of a loved one. After dinner is served at 6:30, parents can even attend special classes such as those that prepare for the GED, teach Spanish or Mandarin, or teach English as a second language.


After-school Coordinator Mark Benson observes as Blaine Sample teaches mathematics to Pond Gap students.

Pond Gap has become a model for how to integrate academic instruction with community services that builds student confidence, takes certain burdens off overworked parents, and leads to a reduction of student problems, such as tardiness, absences, and behavioral referrals.  Nationally, schools are implementing Common Core standards that elevate the bar of acceptable academic performance. For these standards to work with certain populations, Pond Gap has the answer: provide needed support with daily activities, teach engaging skills after-school, and show students and parents that “school” is a way of life.

On a recent visit to Pond Gap, I sat in the office waiting to interview Susan Espiritu. Back in the 60s, I was sent to the principal’s office often, for engaging in disruptive behaviors. My only after-school memories were of detention. As I looked at young students in the hallways switching classes, I thought of all the opportunities that awaited them and felt sad at the experiences that I probably missed. As the principal asked me to come observe the special programs, however, I knew this time I would not mind staying after-school.




Michael K. Smith, Ph.D., is owner of TESTPREP EXPERTS ( ) which prepares students for standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT. He is also a consultant to Discovery Education Assessment. He can reached at

New Hope for Peanut Allergy Sufferers

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


Oct2013PienkowskiSevere reactions to peanuts are increasing in frequency and now affect over 1% of the general public. The onset of these reactions happens in early childhood, as early as 12 months or younger, and reactions tend to get progressively worse. Unfortunately, for the majority of individuals, the reactivities to peanuts continue to persist through their life. Over three quarters of individuals with peanut reactions have them because of inadvertent exposure to peanuts, emphasizing great difficulties to just stay on a peanut-free diet. Read more →

Mathing With Your Child

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


Oct2013OHernEveryone knows that reading to the young child is crucial to their educational development.  But have you ever thought about mathing with your child?  Try it!  At bedtime, just before or just after reading, give them a mental math exercise.  My bet is that they will see it as a fun exercise once they see how they can show off their math prowess for you!  And you know that once you start with your oldest child their younger sibling will want an exercise, too! Read more →

The Art of Education

The study of music teaches more than just notes

By Rachel Brown, Knoxville Opera Intern

KnoxOpera-Oct2013The Ancient Greeks believed that music had a profound effect on the human body, personality and way of life. Music was thought to be a reflection of the balance of the universe. They regarded it so highly that it was included in the core curriculum that every person studied. Everyone in the society had an intimate knowledge of music and its influence. The Greeks had it right. We, as Americans, take pride in the fact we have a democratic government, and that we got this idea from such ancient peoples. Why, then, do we not follow the Greeks’ example in their reverence toward music? Most Western music that we have today has Greek roots-clearly they were doing something right. Read more →

Protecting Your Child from the Flu

By Darci Hodge, ETCH Director of Infection Control


Oct2013-ETCHChildren have a higher risk of getting the flu because their immune systems are still developing. This risk is even greater in children with long-term health problems, like asthma and diabetes, and children age 2 and younger. This is why your child should get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Read more →

Elf The Musical

One of the most beloved Hollywood holiday hits of the past decade is born again – live on stage!

by Margaret Stolfi, AC Entertainment



Oct2013-Elf1ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole.  Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF.

The New York Times says that ELF is “SPLASHY, PEPPY, SUGAR-SPRINKLED HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT!” USA Today calls ELF, “ENDEARINGLY GOOFY!” Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults!”

Oct2013-Elf2Based on the beloved 2003 New Line Cinema hit, ELF features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).



More information on the Broadway at the Tennessee 2013-2014 season can be found at



Suffering Is Optional

Disability doesn’t mean inability

by John Frederick Wolfe, M.D.

Oct2013-WolfeDisability is not inability.  It is true that children and youth with chronic juvenile inflammatory types of arthritis have disabilities.  Other chronic diseases also have disabilities.  This means that a child is not able to run as fast, throw a ball as well, dance as well as children who have no disabilities. However, just because it is difficult to do many activities like riding,  running, jumping, throwing and playing, it does not mean that these cannot be done.  Read more →