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For Immediate Release

March 22, 2017

Contact: John Crooks



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Emerald Academy’s new school director is longtime educator Renee Kelly.


Emerald Charter Schools’ board of directors approved the hiring of Kelly Wednesday. She has served in a dual role as interim school director and dean of scholars since January.


“This is an incredible opportunity, and I am humbled the board selected me,” said Kelly. “The team at Emerald Academy is second to none, and we are dedicated to guiding our scholars on a trajectory of academic success.”


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.


“I am so pleased Renee is our new school director,” said Emerald Charter Schools President Steve Diggs. “She has worked passionately for more than 15 years to advance education outcomes for children throughout Knoxville. I, along with the ECS board of directors, know Renee will do an outstanding job to continue the academic progress we’re making with scholars at Emerald Academy.”


Kelly 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 former University of Tennessee football standout Todd Kelly and mother to two grown children, Todd Jr. and Clarke.


Emerald Academy currently has 250 scholars enrolled in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades. Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year is available at through March 24 at 5 p.m.


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.


Kelly replaces Dr. Jon Rysewyk who returned to Knox County Schools in January to become interim chief academic officer.


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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