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For Immediate Release                                                                                  

July 27, 2015         

Contact: John Crooks

865) 223-4513




While many students across East Tennessee wrap up their summer vacation, a special group of students started school today in one urban Knoxville neighborhood.


Just over one year ago, the Knox County Board of Education approved a proposal from Emerald Charter Schools to launch the very first public charter school in Knoxville: Emerald Academy.


The school will eventually house more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade, but begins today with 126 students in kindergarten and first grade. 93 percent of students are from Knoxville’s center city neighborhoods.


“This is a historic day for our community and a life-changing day for our scholars and their families,” said Steve Diggs, president of Emerald Charter Schools.


“It is the culmination of generosity and hard work from people across our city who jumped on board with the idea that every child can achieve at high levels. We think this is a game changer for city students and their families.”


Because enrollment outnumbered available spaces by nearly three to one, students for Emerald Academy were chosen by a random lottery.


Students at Emerald Academy will be called “scholars” in an effort to stress the importance of college completion, and the three primary goals of the school are as follows:


  • Scholars will read at or above grade level.

  • Every scholar will be ready for high school and on their way to a four-year college.

  • Emerald Academy will rank in the top 5 percent of schools in Tennessee within the first 10 years of operation.


“It’s honestly overwhelming when you stop and think about everything that has taken place over the past year to get us to today. Everything from the accelerated construction, to looking for the very best team to hire to purchasing desks and chairs for classrooms has all been a whirlwind,” said Dr. Jon Rysewyk, school director.


“But now is when the real work happens. At its core, this isn’t just a new initiative – it’s something that will make a tremendous impact on these students, their families and our city. I’m grateful to be a part of it.”


The school is located in Mechanicsville at the historic Moses School Building, 220 Carrick Street. Supporting opportunities are available.


For more information about the school and how to become involved, visit


About Emerald Academy

Emerald Academy is a tuition-free, independently-operated, K-8 college preparatory public school launched by Emerald Charter Schools and Emerald Youth Foundation. The school’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.

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