Category: Education

Getting The Most of Practice: Part V

By Jeff Comas, Director of Knoxville Academy of Music



Tension and The Physicality of Performing

This article is about performing music, but the concepts can be applied to other activities like sports, dancing, acting, even writing or doing crafts.

In part one of this series I discussed letting the learning of music be easier by studying and music in small segments, which can be learned faster and with greater ease. In this section I’ll discuss more of the physical element of playing music. Read more →

Reading Knoxville: This Shaky Earth

Book by Ramon DeGennaro, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“Poetry enables us to know what it ‘feels like’ to be alive in the world,” wrote Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren in Understanding Poetry. “What does it ‘feel like,’ for instance, to be in love, to hate somebody, to be conscience stricken, to watch a sunset or stand by a death-bed, to be willing to die for a cause or live in a passionate devotion to some chosen ideal?” Linda Parsons Marion, in This Shaky Earth, takes the reader on a powerful emotional journey from memories of childhood to reflections of being a grandmother through poems whose feelings pulse from every page. Read more →

A Conversation with Linda Parsons

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


Untitled-13“Being in exile helped me discover myself,” Linda Parsons told me one Saturday morning at Panera Bread. Linda was born in Nashville, but her family moved to Wisconsin for her high school years. Attending high school so far away from where she was raised highlighted what it was “to be Southern” and helped her develop her own streak of independence. She eventually migrated back South to Knoxville where she earned a BA and MA in English from the University of Tennessee. Along this path she discovered she wanted to be a writer. Read more →

The Carrot That Got My Daughter To Read

By Mary Anglin-Coulter, Reading Buddy Software

Untitled-5Is it me, or does the school year seem more sporadic these days?

When I was a kid, we were in school during the year and on break in the summer. Whether we were in school or camp, we had long stretches. If we were in school, it felt like forever until we got a break. And when we returned, it felt like we were gone for a long time.

Today, a year-round school calendar with frequent breaks is more popular. Add to that snow days and you have a learning routine that’s constantly interrupted. Read more →

A Safety Plan For Parents

By Jeff Comas, Director of Knoxville Academy of Music



I want to warn you that contents of this article may provoke some uncomfortable thoughts. However, if you love your children (and I know you do) I urge you to read on. After all, every parent is concerned about their children’s safety and wellbeing. I know you want to protect your children from serious dangers to the best of your ability. That means considering the dangers your children may face in their lives, and what can be done about them, is part of your responsibility as a parent. We cannot, and should not even try to protect our child from every single danger in the world. However, when it comes to protecting our kids from the dangers of child predators we must be vigilant. Having safeguards to protect your children from predators should be a part of every family’s safety plan. Read more →

Being Active Can Be Fun

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

Did you know the brain is a muscle? Well, it is…and no different than any of your other muscles: you must use it before you lose it. In need of some advice to help you and your students put the brain to use this summer? Get active! Exercise is not only important for physical health, but it can help keep the brain sharp as well. Anything that is good for the heart, is great for the brain. Knoxville has plenty of places to and activities to try to put both the body and the brain to work, so read on to hear about some of those, but also for some tips about how to get fit in your front yard, too!

All Work and No Play…

No one said you had to be as good as David Beckham or Serena Williams to enjoy sports, just go outside and play with your children. Summertime is a great time for family members to participate in some friendly competition in the outdoors. Sports like Frisbee, soccer, golf, croquet, flag football, and swimming are a great way for your little ones to release any energy that has built up during the school year and cooler months. Another great way to get fit with the family is to explore new sports together. Pick a sport that seems interesting, read books or articles regarding the origin and rules of game, maybe watch a game or match on TV, online, or in person, then try it out for yourself with friends and family!

These [Sneakers] Were Made for Walking

Summer evenings in Knoxville are amazing. To get to know your neighbors and their kids, you could start a walking club for the neighborhood. Map out a route, set a consistent day and time to meet, invite others to join, and start putting one foot in front of the other.

Go Take A Hike!

Literally! One of the greatest things about being in East Tennessee is all of the nature that surrounds us. National parks, nature trails, flowing rivers, and serene lakes all beckon. Consider taking your children out to explore.

I Spy

The age old game, “I Spy” is a great way to pull our eyes from the many screens we encounter each day. Step out the front door, sans any technology and play. The “spy” spots something and says, “I spy….” then describes the item using descriptive words while everyone else tries to be the first one to spot the selected item. Whoever spots it first becomes the next spy.

Bike Hike

Knoxville trails aren’t just for hiking! Many of the area greenways are smoothly paved and perfect for two (or three) wheels. Vehicles are typically prohibited from the areas as well, so they are safer than area sidewalks and parking lots. Grab your helmets, load up a picnic, and roll on into a good time!

Slow and Steady

Don’t think that all activity needs to be fast paced and sweat inducing! Try some slower moving activities like yoga or Tai Chi. Watch instructional videos online, if you do it on a laptop or your phone, you could even try it outside.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

There’s no excuse to skip exercise on cold or rainy days. Watch exercise videos indoors or take  advantage of a local mall walking program to add variety and keep exercise going even in inclement weather.

Dance Fever

Everyone loves a good dance party. Whether you’re inside with family, visiting with friends, or enjoying a neighborhood BBQ, put on a little music and get those feet moving.

Happy Feet

1.Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Research some of the area’s local attractions and see how many you can visit on foot. It shouldn’t be too hard downtown! Map out a route and get moving. It will be doubly beneficial because it will exercise the body and brain, as well as provide some educational incentives. Some initial ideas are: Gentle Barn, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville Botanical Garden, Knoxville Museum of Art, McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, Putt Putt Golf and Games, UT Gardens, and The Fruit and Berry Patch.

Talk to your family to decide which activities need to be on your Fun Family Fitness To-do List, set some personal and family fitness goals, and get active!

Please share your success stories, related tips, and topic suggestions for future articles by contacting Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, (865) 594-9525, For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at

Knox County Schools Family Resource Center’s


The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) Summer Food Service Program

Summer Food Service Program provides meals (breakfast, lunch, and snacks) to children at a variety of sites within Knox County to include recreation programs, summer schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other community youth groups. For locations and more information, call 865-546-3500.

For details and/or additional local resources, contact Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director via email at or by phone at (865) 594-1192.

Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at

Nourishing The Soul With Music

By Jeff Comas, Director of Knoxville Academy of Music



“The effect of music on our bodies” has been a topic of scientific studies for a very long time. We all remember listening to our favorite singer or band for extensive hours and how it lifts our mood and cheers us up. This is important to remember because we all know that modern studies have shown the effects of mood on our overall health, good mood and stress-free life leads to longevity, whereas stress can lead to heart diseases and many brain related dysfunctions. Music therapy has become very popular to reverse some of the effects of old age but what is being given slightly less attention is the huge amounts of benefits listening and learning to play music can have for your child in the long run. Read more →

Reading Knoxville: How the Stock Market Works

Book by Ramon DeGennaro, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“We’ll learn what stocks actually are and how they are traded. We’ll learn about the risks you’ll take if you invest in stocks, and why you might find buying them attractive despite those risks.” Ramon DeGennaro, a Professor in Banking and Finance at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, explains the reality and the myths of the stock market in his illuminating course, How the Stock Market Works. Published by The Great Courses, this series of 24 lectures can help both students and parents become much more conversant with the language of money and finance and the advantages and disadvantages of buying stocks. Read more →

Talking with Ramon DeGennaro

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


met Ray DeGennaro over coffee at Panera at lunch time on a nice, almost Spring day. Ray had just come from teaching his Introduction to Finance course at the University of Tennessee. He felt that talking to over 200 students in one of UT’s big lecture halls had strained his voice a bit. Our conversation began with me wondering how he chosen his particular career. Read more →

Figuring How To Get There From Here

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



Have you ever tried to wrap your head around something that just doesn’t seem possible, but it is?  I remember a couple of summers ago fighting with what’s referred to as “The Monty Hall Problem” until it seemed like I was going to go nuts.  Since I don’t want you to go nuts, I won’t go into it here. Maybe in the future, I’ll feel a little less magnanimous and tell you anyway. Read more →