By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
Welcome back to school! My favorite time of the year is the start of school, when students are back in the classrooms and teachers are engaging young minds to grow and learn. While I visit our schools throughout the year, during the first few weeks of each year I make it a point to visit as many classrooms as possible. Each year, I witness our teachers using incredible creativity, energy, and skill in leading their students. I’m not at all surprised to witness this. I know our educators are professionals who work diligently every day to reach our students, personalize their learning, and help them succeed.
In just one day during my visits to our schools, I experienced both a unique use of classroom technology and an engaging use of a simple box of crayons as an instructional tool. I heard our students singing beautifully, and I witnessed drama students attempting to act as trees. Some students were reading complex informational text or compelling works of fiction, and others were donning safety goggles while carrying out a science experiment. I saw teachers challenging students to think and plan before they spend money by asking students to solve multi-step problems, and I witnessed several teachers working one-on-one with students who were struggling with a concept.
What happens in our classrooms every day is public education at its best. I salute our teachers, our students, our staff, and our entire community for all their hard work in supporting academic excellence. We are seeing the fruits of their labor in terms of increased student learning and success! Just recently, ACT results were released and the composite score for Knox County Schools students improved from 20.4 in 2014 to 20.7 in 2015. Additionally, our school system was recently recognized by the State of Tennessee as an Exemplary School District, the first large urban school district to ever earn this honor. We have more work to do, but we are also making significant improvements in closing achievement gaps that are defined by race, income, language, and disability.
Indeed, we owe a lot to our teachers for the incredible work they do in our classrooms every day. Our community has the chance to recognize our teachers in the Knox County Schools by celebrating Thank A Teacher Week, which is September 28-October 2, 2015. Sponsored by the Great Schools Partnership, Knox County Schools, and other fine organizations, this week gives us all a chance to focus on recognizing those who make such an enduring impact on the future of our community: Our teachers. I invite you to visit greatschoolspartnership.com for details.
The community also has an opportunity to support every classroom in our district through the Knox County Schools Coupon Book campaign. The Knox County Schools Coupon Book is in its 27th year and has raised more than $30 million for our schools. The coupon book campaign is under way and officially ends Sept. 21. You can purchase books at the main office of any of our schools or from your favorite student. For more information, please visit knoxschools.org.
What happens in our classrooms every day is public education at its best.
Our students already are deeply engaged in their academic pursuits, and our teachers are expertly leading their classes. Parents can also engage in their students’ educational process through the online parent portal. The Knox County Schools’ website, knoxschools.org, offers an online portal for parents to access real-time student grades, attendance, schedules, classroom information, and more. I encourage you to visit knoxschools.org and click on “Popular Links” to get started, and if you have questions, please contact the Knox County Schools at 594-1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school year is off to a fantastic start, and we already have much to celebrate. I invite you to join me in sustaining the successes we experience throughout the year as we work together toward our goal of Excellence for Every Child.