Excitement, cheers and hugs as students in Knox Co. head back to class


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Students, parents and educators were smiling big on Monday as they walked back into class.

At Green Magnet Academy, teachers lined the sidewalk with green balloons, signs, and they hugged students as they entered the school.

“It’s like a pep rally. They’re all about ready to learn, they’re excited to see the kids back and it’s more comforting,” said Jessica Greenlee, whose son, Easton Greenlee, is entering third grade.

The smiles and cheering were the best part of starting a new school year for some parents.

“Excited, a little scared, but he’s ready. He’s pumped,” said Francheska Mora as she walked in her third-grader, Jeremiah Mitchell.

This year educators and leaders in our community are hoping students focus on two things.

“One is early childhood literacy and reading, and the other is, I think it’s apropos that we’re at Green Magnet Academy because the other is STEM and STEAM education. With the way the world economy is going, it’s really important to have a background in technology, a background in engineering and mathematics,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

“We’ve really been pushing our reading the last several years. Reading and math as well but because we’re a STEAM school, also the STEAM disciplines of science, technology, arts and math,” said Green Magnet Academy Principal Jessica Holman.

Knox County School Board members passed a strategic plan for this year with three goals.

“One is to increase student achievement, which we’ll continue to work on everyday. Also to build a positive culture in our school district and to work on eliminating disparities, that’s academic disparities and disciplinary disparities,” said Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas.

For parents and students, educators want you to remember that success can look very different.

“Just be yourself, work as hard as you can and try,” said Principal Holman.

With this first week, school leaders ask people driving in school zones to pay attention, slow down, put cell phones down and be careful.

KCS adding 22 new school security officers recently graduated, meaning all schools are staffed with a security officer and SRO. We’re told, in total, there are 102 security officers within the Knox County School system.

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