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For Immediate Release

December 14, 2016


Contact: John Crooks




Fulton High School and University of Tennessee alumna will serve in dual role 


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Emerald Academy Dean of Scholars, Renee Kelly, will become interim school director in early January 2017. The role will be an expanded one for Kelly, who will serve in both roles until a new school director replacement is named.


“Since joining Emerald Academy, Renee has been a tremendous asset for our scholars and their families,” said Emerald Charter Schools President Steve Diggs. “Her enthusiasm for working alongside city scholars and their families to achieve high outcomes is unmatched, and I look forward to working with her as interim school director. I, along with our board of directors, have full confidence in her ability to help close the academic gap for city kids in Knoxville.”  


Kelly joined Emerald Academy in February 2016 after serving in a variety of public education roles in Knox County, including as principal at West Valley Middle School. Before that, she served at Bearden Middle School, Spring Hill Elementary School, and with Project GRAD Knoxville.


She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Tennessee and an educational specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University. She is a graduate of the 2016 Class of Leadership Knoxville. Kelly is wife to the former University of Tennessee football standout Todd Kelly and mother to two grown children, Todd Jr. and Clarke.


“I am honored to be serving the school in this temporary capacity,” said Kelly. “I look forward to continuing to build a school culture that forges partnerships between scholars, their parents and families, and our deep bench of talented faculty and staff. The stakes are high, and we will wake up every day working to help grow scholars into leaders.”


Kelly will replace Dr. Jon Rysewyk who has led Emerald Academy since its launch in 2014. Rysewyk is returning to Knox County Schools to become interim chief academic officer. “Dr. Rysewyk will be sincerely missed at Emerald Academy. His contributions have been critical to a successful launch of the school, and I am deeply grateful for his leadership,” Diggs said. 


Emerald Academy currently has 250 scholars enrolled in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades. Enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year outnumbered available spaces by nearly five to one, and scholars were chosen by a random lottery. The application process is ongoing, and can be accessed at


The Knox County Board of Education approved a proposal from Emerald Charter Schools in 2014 to launch Emerald Academy, which will eventually house 540 scholars from kindergarten through eighth grade.


About Emerald Academy & Emerald Charter Schools

Emerald Academy is a free, independently-operated, K-8 college preparatory school launched by Emerald Charter Schools. Located in the historic Moses School Building at 220 Carrick Street in Old Mechanicsville, Emerald Academy’s mission is to grow scholars into leaders by creating the best learning culture for city students to develop the skills, habits, and values for success in high school, college and life. Supporting opportunities are available. For more information about the school and how to become involved, visit Founded in 2014, Emerald Charter Schools is a non-sectarian, 501(c)(3) organization that operates Emerald Academy. Learn more at

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