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For Immediate Release

February 8, 2016


John Crooks

(865) 223-4513



School Adds Veteran Educator, Renee Kelly, as Dean of Scholars


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Emerald Academy, Knoxville’s first public charter school, is now accepting applications for the 2016-2017 school year.


The college preparatory school that opened last July 27 offers a new option for academic excellence to city children and their families. After beginning in 2015 with kindergarten and first grade scholars, the school will add second and sixth grades in the 2016-2017 school year. Emerald Academy will eventually be open to grades K-8 and is phasing in grades two at a time until it reaches capacity.


Last year, more than 400 families applied for the 120 available seats in kindergarten and first grade. Because applications for those grades outnumbered the available seats, the school conducted an admissions lottery. Kindergarten and sixth grade will accept full classes this fall, with a few slots in first and second grades also available.


The deadline for applications is March 25 at 5 p.m. Interested families may apply at or in person at the school office at 220 Carrick Street, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Families can also attend one of several community meetings scattered throughout the city to learn more about the school’s strategy. To learn more about when meetings and tours take place, please contact the school at (865) 249-7223. Translated applications and informational material are also available.


The school has added veteran Knoxville educator Renee Kelly to its executive leadership team. Kelly will be Dean of Scholars with her primary focus on working with scholars and their families.


“After serving in education for more than a decade, I am hard pressed to think of any opportunity that has excited me more than this one,” said Kelly.


“Having worked at inner city schools and attended one myself as a student at Fulton High school, I know firsthand the challenges that families are facing in our city. The opportunity before us is great, and I am honored and thrilled to be part of the team that is tackling this head-on in an innovative way.”

Prior to joining Emerald Academy, she served in a variety of roles in public education in Knox County, most recently working at West Valley Middle School as principal. Before that, she served at Bearden Middle School, Spring Hill Elementary School, and with Project GRAD Knoxville. She is currently a member of the 2016 Class of Leadership Knoxville.


Kelly and her husband, former Tennessee football star and NFL player Todd Kelly, have two adult children: Clarke, a recent University of Alabama graduate, and Todd Jr., a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee.


About Emerald Academy & Emerald Charter Schools

Emerald Academy is a free, independently operated, K-8 college preparatory school located in the historic Moses School Building in Knoxville’s Old Mechanicsville neighborhood. Its 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. The goals of Emerald Academy include: scholars will read at or above grade level; every scholar will be ready for high school and on their way to a 4 year college; the school will rank in the top 5 percent of schools in Tennessee within the first 10 years of operation.


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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