Great Schools Partnership

Great School Partnership

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912 S. Gay St. L210

Knoxville, TN 37902


                CodeTN Finale this Thursday!  

November 20, 7:00 PM: Finale at Knoxville Convention Center – Final Judging and Winners Announced


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Teachers are our greatest instructional experts.  The Great Schools Partnership and Knox County Schools Office of Innovation recognize this and are looking for Knoxville’s best TeacherPreneurs.  What is a TeacherPreneur? Entrepreneurs develop successful new business strategies and TeacherPreneurs develop successful new instructional strategies.


The Knox County Schools strategic plan, “Excellence for Every Child,” calls upon the district to “Invest in our People.”  More specifically, the plan encourages staff to be “educational leaders and creative problem solvers.”  We will encourage our people to use their expertise and creativity to improve our district and the learning opportunities we provide to our students. The plan goes on to envision classrooms as “innovation labs” where teachers develop, organize, store and share “new and great ideas” for teaching.


If you’re a Knox County teacher with a promising idea for how to improve learning, we’d like to hear from you.  You might qualify for up to $25,000 in grant money and a chance to share your big idea with others.


A note: Please remember when creating your idea that the actual purchasing of technology to improve classroom instruction is not innovative. Instead, HOW a teacher uses technology to improve instruction might be a suitable idea for a Teacherpreneur grant.

 How to apply:

Write it down.  Tell us in 1,000 words or less what you’d like to do and why you’d like to do it. Then, add a section of 500 words or less telling us how we can evaluate the effectiveness of your idea.  How will you measure success?  And, if successful, how will you share your idea with others?  Please be as specific as possible.  Finally, include a budget and a letter of support from the principal at your school.  We’ll have a panel of experienced educators evaluate the proposals and fund the most promising ones.  Joint applications involving more than one collaborating teacher will be favored over individual proposals.

Applicants can:

*   Submit online 

* Mail 3 copies of your proposal to Buzz Thomas, Great Schools Partnership, 912 South Gay Street, Knoxville 37902

* Email an electronic copy to with the subject line “Teacherpreneur Project”


Thank you for sharing your ideas about how to make learning even better in the Knox County schools! We cannot WAIT to read these ideas.

Knoxville’s Great Schools ranked 13th in the nation

(Knoxville Daily Sun – KNOXVILLE) – The only study of U.S. K-12 education foundations, “Stepping Up: The Top K-12 Education Foundations in the Nation,” announced Knoxville’s Great Schools has been ranked 13th in the nation. Great Schools was the top-ranked education foundation in Tennessee.

“Stepping Up” evaluated eight key performance categories to determine the ranking – annual revenues, revenues per student, total assets, assets per student, investment income, total program expenses, expenses per student and human capital (volunteers).

“This is only one data point of course, but it is an important one,” said Buzz Thomas, president of the Great Schools Partnership. “The success of Great School can be attributed to a visionary board that is committed to building the best school system in the south and a dedicated staff that puts the interests of children ahead of their own.”

Along with ranking thirteenth overall, Great Schools Partnership also placed in the top 25 in four of the key performance categories. The purpose of the Stepping Up Study is to advocate the importance of K- 12 education foundations while recognizing those that do it best. The study reviews K-12 education foundations in the top 100 largest school districts by population in the nation and pulls information directly from the foundations’ 990 filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Great Schools Partnership maintains programs such as Community Schools, Parents as Teachers, Targeted Pre-K, TAP, AVID, CODEtn and New Teacher Mentoring and Induction. With continued growth and support, Great Schools Partnership plans to initiate a series of new programs and partnerships to further assist Knox County Schools.

“Based on the ‘Stepping Up’ rankings, we can see that Tennessee education foundations are positively effecting public education, and that deserves national recognition,” said Dewey Caruthers, president of Dewey & Associates and author of the study.

Published October 17, 2014

See the study in full here



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


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