Dr. Kala Gray
Its name is Emerald Academy.
Public schools are important to the well-being of the local community. Urban high schools, in particular, serve as neighborhood-based anchor institutions that help shape a community’s identity. Current high school performance indicators, such as the small percentage of urban students who score advanced in Algebra I and English I or achieve ACT benchmarks, clearly communicate the need to take corrective measures. We must strengthen Knoxville’s urban schools so they produce graduates who are truly prepared for college and career. The future of our young people and our urban neighborhoods themselves depends upon it.
Emerald Youth Foundation believes that establishing a K-8 inner-city public charter school is another good option for Knox County to accelerate the pace of student readiness for secondary education. Click here to view data from the feeder schools which supports this logic (data obtained from 2013 Report Card, State of Tennessee, Department of Education).
Emerald Youth Foundation is an urban youth ministry with a 22-year history serving Knoxville’s inner-city children, teens and young adults. More than 1,350 young people participate yearly in its faith, learning, and sports programs.
Emerald Youth Foundation is starting a new 501(c)(3) organization – Emerald Charter Schools – in order to submit a public charter school application to Knox County Schools.
As a faith-based ministry, Emerald Youth Foundation will continue its Christian mission of helping urban Knoxville youth grow as leaders. However, in its role of launching a public charter school, Emerald Youth Foundation will begin a new, separate, non-sectarian organization to manage the public charter school.
Emerald Youth Foundation has a longstanding track record of partnering with Knox County Schools and will increase its support of traditional public schools in Knoxville’s urban neighborhoods.
After further study and input, Emerald Charter Schools intends to provide free, sustainable, high quality public schools in Knoxville’s urban neighborhoods, ensuring all students have access to an outstanding college preparatory education.
Emerald Charter Schools will begin with a K-8 public charter school, starting with two grades and adding two more each year in development phases.
Emerald Charter Schools anticipates locating the first school in the Fulton High School Zone or the North city area (the founding community of Emerald Youth Foundation).
After conducting extensive research nationally into various models including making site visits, Emerald Youth Foundation has chosen Breakthrough Schools’ E Prep middle school and Village Prep elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio as the ideal model.
Breakthrough Schools has a track record of excellent student outcomes: in 2012, its students – who are more than 97% minority and approximately 85% low-income – significantly outperformed Ohio public school students (urban and suburban) on average on every single test at every single grade level.
Breakthrough Schools’ E Prep and Village Prep Schools’ leadership has agreed to work with Emerald Charter Schools to export its model to Knoxville.