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July 28, 2014




Contact: John Crooks

(865) 637-3227 ext. 119




Longtime educator to lead Knox County’s first public charter school


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Emerald Charter Schools (ECS) has hired Dr. Jon Rysewyk as the founding principal of Emerald Academy, a college-prep public school of choice for urban youth. Rysewyk, following a thorough process, was the unanimous choice of Emerald Charter Schools’ nine-member board of directors. 


Rysewyk holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee, an education specialist degree in instructional leadership from Tennessee Technological University and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from East Tennessee State University.


“The hiring of Dr. Rysewyk as Emerald Academy’s founding principal is a huge step for Emerald Charter Schools,” said Steve Diggs, ECS board president. “Jon’s proven leadership experience in a turnaround school – in an urban setting – and his ability to ensure a strong and collaborative working relationship with Knox County Schools clearly made him the right choice to lead Emerald Academy.”


Dr. Rysewyk’s experience includes: 

- Executive Director of Innovation and School Improvement, Knox County Schools, 2013-Present

- Supervisor of Secondary Education, Knox County Schools, 2012-2013

- Executive Principal, Fulton High School, 2008-2012

- Assistant Principal – Curriculum, Fulton High School, 2004-2008

- Teacher and Department Head, Karns High School, 2002-2004

- Teacher and Coach, Oliver Springs High School, 1999-2001


The selection of Emerald Academy’s founding principal was among the most important decisions the ECS board needed to make. The principal will be responsible for building relationships with families, recruiting students, hiring teachers and staff, serving as the instructional leader of the school and establishing productive relationships with Knox County Schools and other people and organizations throughout the community. 


The first leader of the inaugural public charter school in Knox County also must have an entrepreneurial mindset, a willingness to take risks, a firm belief that Emerald Academy can close the achievement gap and alter the academic trajectory of its scholars and the commitment to ensure all students achieve at the highest level. 


Based on Rysewyk’s impressive track record, credentials, and responses throughout the search process, the ECS board is confident it has found the right leader to serve Emerald Academy. 


ECS’ principal search was conducted by a search committee composed of a subset of ECS board members: Guille Cruze, Ed Hedgepeth (committee chair), Sherra Robinson and Danielle South. Additional members of the ECS board include: Renda Burkhart, Steve Diggs, Randy Gibson, Tim McLemore and Alvin Nance. 


About Emerald Charter Schools: Emerald Charter Schools is a new nonprofit organization formed to manage Emerald Academy. Emerald Charter Schools is a separate, non-sectarian organization started by Emerald Youth Foundation, which has a longstanding track record working with Knoxville’s inner-city children, teens and young adults. Accountable to state and federal academic standards, public charter schools are independently operated public schools that are tuition-free and open to every student who wishes to enroll.


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