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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

PlanET Perspectives:

Our Roadmap to Success in the Future

By Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr.
Superintendent, Knox County Schools
Posted 07/30/2013

I enthusiastically accepted the invitation from the Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) organization to write a guest blog regarding how future development will affect the Knox County Schools and its programming. But I believe the more important question is how can the Knox County Schools and its programming affect future development in our community?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by 2018—just five years from now—the fastest growing industries in Tennessee will be medical and biomedical engineering; environmental engineering; computing systems analysis and design; teaching; hospitality and others. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to provide the necessary academic preparation for our students’ evolving futures.  We are working diligently in a variety of ways to prepare our students for success in our increasing competitive and complex world.

Today, students who are interested in careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) can attend the Knox County Schools’ L&N STEM Academy, a robust offering of STEM curriculum supported by partnerships with leading industry leaders in Tennessee and across the country. STEM educational opportunities are also provided at a number of other Knox County secondary schools such as Farragut High School and Hardin Valley Academy.

Today, students who desire rigorous curriculum to prepare for college success might choose to attend West High School to take advantage of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, a rigorous “world school” that promotes an intercultural understanding and encourages students to become active global citizens through education.

And, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, students in the Knox County Schools will be able to attend a new and innovative Career and Technical Education (CTE) magnet high school. This unique academic offering is made possible by a partnership with Pellissippi State Community College and the Knoxville Chamber, as well as academic and business leaders in our region. Students at the new CTE magnet high school will have opportunities to learn in some of the fastest growing areas of industry:  advanced manufacturing, sustainable living, homeland security and teacher preparation.

Additionally, our 21st Century classrooms will be equipped with instructional technology like never before. Through the School Technology Challenge pilot program, several of our schools will implement 1:1 technology (one computer for every student and one for every teacher). We believe selecting a small, representative sample of schools to embrace comprehensive instructional technology will leverage the creativity and expertise within our schools, build capacity for future expansion, and demonstrate success in schools across our community. With this initiative, parents, teachers, stakeholders and taxpayers will see how instructional technology is enhancing education right in their own neighborhood. This initiative will help teachers reach students in new and better ways, more effectively personalize learning for our kids, and open the walls of the classrooms to reach out to the world and enhance our rich curriculum.

We have focused on curriculum and instructional efforts that support innovation, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving – all critical skills our students need to succeed in today’s world - and tomorrow’s. These skills and competencies will be supported and reinforced by new rigorous academic standards adopted by Tennessee and 44 other states, known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards will help us to better prepare K-12 students for success in today’s complicated world and increasingly global economy. We want our students to be able to think more critically, apply knowledge, and solve complex problems as they move into college or career, and the rigor and depth of Common Core standards will help them do that. These teacher-developed standards give us a great roadmap, but curricular decisions will still be made at the state and district level, and instructional decisions will always be driven by our outstanding teachers.

As we move to the future, our collective efforts to provide an outstanding education to our children will have a tremendous impact on the development of our community and our region. If we are successful in creating a community and a workforce of thinkers, learners, problem-solvers and innovators, then economic activity will flock to the Tennessee Valley as surely as it did to the industrial centers of 100 years ago. The new economic currency is great human capital – that is a highly trained, skillful, and entrepreneurial workforce – and our efforts to effectively educate our children today will deeply influence our community’s ability to compete economically and experience productive development tomorrow.

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Copyright 2013 by Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission
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