Great Schools Partnership

Great School Partnership

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912 S. Gay St. L210

Knoxville, TN 37902


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Annual Report
 (Click Above to View Report)

“Accountability” is the new watchword in education. As frustrating as that may sometimes be, our schools are the better for it. As a child of the fifties and sixties, I grew up at a time when “made in Japan” was a joke, and “made in China” didn’t even exist. Today, nobody is laughing. Instead, our teachers, administrators and board members are working overtime to ensure that our students graduate from high school ready for college or career in today’s competitive world.

The mission of the Great Schools Partnership is to assist Knox County in its quest to develop the best large school system in the Southeast. As a “catalyst, think tank, incubator, start-up funder and operational partner” for our local schools, we, too, must be accountable. To that end, we are pleased to attach our annual operational and financial report. As you peruse the report, you will notice key outcome measures for each partnership project. You can evaluate our performance based upon those measures.

Credit for the accomplishments listed in this report goes first to our Board of Directors. Just scan the list and ask yourself: How many mayors, county commissioners, college deans and presidents, business leaders, and community icons – all of whom have busy careers and heavy responsibilities – would spend this much time working to develop great schools? The answer is, of course, not many. That’s why I’m so optimistic about Knoxville’s future. Our leaders are serious about great schools. Credit also goes to our dedicated staff and a cadre of teachers and collaborating partners who have decided to invest their lives in something that really matters.

Enjoy the report.

Buzz Thomas


Community Schools Community Update
September 25, 2013


We asked you to share your thoughts and recommendations on what we need to prioritize to make Community Schools successful in Knox County. Here are some of the things you had to say:

1. Children/Students

Lets hear from the children!

Have children attend schools in their community – don’t bus in from other areas

We need better student behavior and attendence

Better grades

2. Parents and Adults

Parent community school boards (non-PTA-related)

Parent engagment

More parent and teacher interaction

Parents involved with decision making

Parent development

Provide classes for adults, like GED classes

Adult classes – GED, ESL, career, adult reading

Find a way to bring parents into the schools

3. Community/Neighborhoods

Neighborhood empowerment/buy-in

Community updates

Community engagement

Development of a community stakeholders steering community

Strong steering committee

Good community assessment

Involve community leaders and longtime community members

Include neighborhood groups outside of the community school

Community needs to be able to use the school buildings

Do not direct what the community needs, but work to do what is needed

Meals for those without

4. Schools

Creation of a common vision

Academic achievement

Parent and teacher interaction

Caring teachers committed to teaching

All schools need to receive the same respect

Zoning and transportation considerations

Schools need to be community friendly and open to community members

Make sure resources are available

Comprehensive list of services to families

School system needs to stop controlling community schools

School participation and buy-in from principals and staff

District needs to move back and allow steering committee to do their work

More alignment of resources by KCS and improved communication

Focus on true needs

School district must allow GSP to manage community schools without interference

Huge volunteer base must be recruited with lear expectations and orientation

Adequate funding

Make it less intimidating for parents to come into schools

Ensure parents and students privacy (i.e. allow anonymity of people seeking selective services)

Listen to the needs of each site, each neighborhood is unique

Solve the afterschool care problem of competing with private care or grandmas

Feels like a top-down decision making process

Make space available in the schools for neighborhood groups that need a place to meet

Raise awareness across the county

Measurable outcomes

5. Partnerships/Collaboration/GSP

More county/business/government involvement

Support in helping partners determine how to meet the needs of students and families without losing money


Diversity of services

Engage community stakeholders

Services to influence and impact healthy families

Team-building and collaboration between agencies and school

Follow through and plan for inclusion

Comprehensive list of services available to families and communities

Progress reports and updates to all involved

Open forums to discuss progress

Value all partners in the school area

Loosening of KCS rules surrounding partners…help us help the students!

GSP – learn what is working, let US do the talking next time!

More alignment of resources and improved communication

Adequate funding

Skilled resource coordinators need to be recruited

Strategic planning

Data-based decision making

Broaden support from local partners

Get the public library involved – branches in each neighborhood, use them


Thank A Teacher logo 2013
Get involved in the 2nd Annual Thank A Teacher Week
September 30-October 4, 2013
There are many ways to get involved for businesses, community groups, parents, students and faith-based organizations. To learn ways your group can be involved click HERE.
To let us know of an offer your business wants to make to teachers, to request a poster or yard sign or to let us know something special you will be doing for teachers during the week, click HERE.
Post a “thanks” to a favorite teacher or a picture showing your thanks on our THANK A TEACHER Facebook Page.
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When we began this work, we promised two things:  

     ACCOUNTABILITY   &   RESULTS.            

Click here to view the most recent report on our progress.


Join Today!

To join our effort to take Knox County Schools from good to great, become a MEMBER of The Great Schools Partnership. Members receive monthly updates about educational initiatives and invitations to special events.


  • Two-thirds of Tennessee employers want post-secondary training, but less than a fourth of Tennesseans have it.
  • Half of Knox County students graduate from high school with ACT scores below 21 – the standard measure of college and workplace readiness.

Tennessee has always ranked near the bottom on per capita spending on education. We were an agricultural and manufacturing state with little need for a highly educated workforce.

Obviously, that has changed. In today’s information-based, technology-driven economy, the community with the best schools wins. Until the political culture changes into one that is more supportive of education, a strong private sector partner is crucial of helping the Knox County Schools reach their strategic goal.

We help Knox County Schools in three ways:

1) Strategic planning – where are the key leverage points where limited private-sector resources could make a transformational difference?

2) Fund raising – we raise those private-sector resources.

3) Advocacy – we are trying to change the political culture to one more supportive of education.

Join our movement!

Knox County Schools Support Organization

We are a free-standing tax-exempt public charity whose mission is to help Knox County Schools go from good to great. More precisely, we serve as a “catalyst, think tank, incubator and start-up funder for making Knox County Schools globally competitive.”

Browse our website and examine our work plans & budget. Email us and tell us what you think. We want to involve parents, teachers, students, and community members in all that we do. Most importantly, join our network in the movement to create a globally competitive school system here in Knox County! We will send you periodic news blasts and updates on the challenges facing our schools and what you can do to help us meet them. Working together, we believe Knoxville can build the best large school system in the southeast.

Join today to take Knox County Schools from Good to GREAT!!