Archive for: October 2014

Fostering Pro-Social Adolescent Development

By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.



In my role as a forensic psychologist, I evaluate adolescents with legal problems. Sometimes these evaluations are in anticipation of a transfer hearing, in which the prosecutor will argue that the adolescent offender should be tried as an adult in criminal court, and the juvenile court judge must decide whether to transfer the case. In such instances, I am called upon to describe to the court the ways in which the adolescent’s development was derailed and the circumstances that contributed to the development of criminal behaviors. I am also asked to recommend interventions for rehabilitating the adolescent. In order to know what help these troubled adolescents need, it is first necessary to understand the factors that contribute to successful adolescent development. In their book Rethinking juvenile justice, Elizabeth Scott and Laurence Steinberg describe three conditions during adolescence that have been shown to foster social and emotional maturity: (1) authoritative parenting; (2) participation in pro-social peer groups; and (3) involvement in activities that allow for autonomous decision-making and critical thinking. Read more →

The Creative Role Of Reading Fiction

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



When I was a senior at West, my English teacher, Mrs. Hooper, had us read and study a book by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren entitled Understanding Fiction. This text presented examples of well-known short stories with detailed critical commentaries. Brooks and Warren wanted a student to develop a deeper comprehension of fiction, so that the process of reading would change the student. Otherwise, there was little merit in offering an English course: “…if the views remain substantially unchanged, if the interests which [the student] brings to fiction in the first place are not broadened and refined, the course has scarcely fulfilled its purpose: the student has merely grown more glib and complacent in his limitations.” Current social science research extends Brooks and Warren’s vision: Reading fiction can actually increase empathy and help develop social skills. Read more →

STEM Scouts: Innovative Leaders Of The Future

By Co-National Directors April McMillan and Trent Nichols. Photos by PopFizzTM


STEM1OCT2014We are very fortunate here in East Tennessee to be the first in the nation to test a new after-school program that focuses on fun and exciting opportunities for elementary through high school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This values-based, character development program places emphasis on showing youth how to apply STEM in their everyday lives, develop their leadership skills, and encourages them to expand those experiences into a future career by giving them the opportunity to connect with STEM professionals. It is designed to be fast-paced, thought-provoking and most importantly – FUN! Read more →

Could Desensitization Treatment Help Local Kids With Peanut Allergies?

by Marcin Gornsiewicz, M.D.


Dr. Marek Pienkowski says he is the only allergist in Tennessee practicing a game-changing countermeasure against peanut allergies: peanut desensitization, a process that attempts to minimize the immune system’s violent reaction to peanut allergens.

“The prevalence and intensity of allergic reactions by people with peanut allergies is currently increasing,” Pienkowski said. “About 71 percent of the allergic reactions experienced by children are moderately severe, meaning they require epinephrine or a trip to the emergency room.”Avoidance is typically considered the best method of living with a peanut allergy. However, incidental exposure still accounts annually for 12 percent of the allergic reactions by people with peanut allergies. This has led allergists to seek out a more progressive approach to the problem. Read more →

What Does It Take To Educate A Child Now-A-Days?

By SSG James Miller, Assistant Center Commander
US Army Recruiting Center Knoxville


As a parent I am deeply involved in my children’s education, and like other involved parents, I am concerned about the direction our education system is going. The big talk these days is about the Common Core State Standards. I am a proponent of the these standards, so long as they are implemented in a way that truly benefits the child. Let me explain why: We are a military family, and so, we tend to relocate on a regular basis. Read more →

Creating Problems

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




As this month’s Knoxville Parent theme is creativity I thought it might be a good idea to be creative about how we get our children to think about math. Or perhaps it’s better to think of it being about when we think about math. In the classroom math is that dreaded subject – “I can’t do math!” But outside the classroom the intimidation factor is gone, so some things that are math just don’t seem like it, so suddenly math isn’t that big problem we have at school. Read more →

Dear Knox County Schools’ Families

By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools

The Knox County Schools just finished celebrating those who play an integral role in educating the whole child – our remarkable teachers who work tirelessly to make learning engaging and exciting for our students.

For the third consecutive year, the Knox County Schools once again collaborated with Great Schools Partnership, Knox County Education Association, Knox County Council PTA, Knoxville Chamber and a host of community and business organizations to embrace Thank a Teacher Week, a time to remind us to say “thank you” to our teachers in meaningful ways for the job they do all year long.  Read more →

The Independent Child: Tips On How To Teach Your Child To Be Self-Reliant

by Tracey Matthews, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Supervisor
Contributing Writer: Eliza Norrell, Communications Intern, University of Tennessee


Many parents know that resiliency builds confidence in children. One of the best ways to prepare our children for many of life’s circumstances is to help them practice self-reliance and the ability to help themselves. Developing your child’s ability to handle situations will make your life easier as a parent, and also better prepare your son or daughter for adulthood. Allowing your children at a young age to begin making independent decisions, solve their own problems and encourage themselves can result in confident children who will likely grow up to become successfully independent adults. Consider these resilience-building exercises as a start: Read more →