Wow–What a Beginning!!

Wow! What an exciting week-and-a-half it’s been here at CMA@PSCC! Our rock-star faculty is here full time, and we have been having a blast getting to know one another. Staff pictures and brief bios can be seen on our Knox County Schools Website. We’ve been on the news so often, it’s getting to be “old hat,” but be sure to check out the latest news report on WBIR. We cannot wait for our scholars to join us on August 8th (9:30-1:00). Here is a “brief” rundown of some of the exciting events we have experienced since everyone arrived:

Sustainable Futures
_DSC4900bDavid Bolt at Sustainable Futures in Vestal was kind enough to invite us into his company and show us some cutting edge trends and technology in the world of sustainable living and alternative energy. David spoke to us about solar energy, aquaponics, and the sometimes complicated legislation involved in implementing and installing the latest sustainable technology. He also let us explore a “tiny house” which is a small, net-zero home that David builds, sells, and delivers to eco-conscious customers. David gave us some great ideas which we will reveal at a later date and has agreed to help us turn those ideas into reality. Thanks David!

911 Call Center
_DSC4923bAlan Lawson, director of Knoxville Emergency Management Agency, hosted our teachers at the 911 call center. We got to see the Emergency Operations Center where supervisors from the various sectors of KEMA come together in times of crisis to negotiate a plan of action. Alan spoke to us about disaster readiness and provided us some emergency starter kit bags.

Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Abbey Fields
_DSC4943bThanks to Keyes Williamson and Robert Hodge at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum for warmly hosting our visit. We were given a tour of the gardens which included a Dogwood garden, a corn field seeded by Cherokee seed and tended by Burundi immigrants, a market garden, and an outdoor classroom for “Every Child Outdoors” hosted by Wendy Prothro Howard. We also got to see a garden fertilized entirely with recycled “Zoo Poo!” We finished our day with a panel discussion where we learned a great deal about CSA’s from Brenna Wright, whose work at Abbey Fields has helped to revitalize urban areas right here in Knoxville, TN. Thank you to everyone at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens for opening up your home to us and welcoming us as part of the family. We look forward to working with you all in the future! Thanks to Robert Hodge for recommending Wendell Berry:

The Man Born to Farming

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
descending in the dark?


IMG_1919bWe wrapped up our journey with a visit to Denso Manufacturing in Maryville, TN where we learned a great deal about the cutting-edge field of advanced manufacturing and got to tour the plant where computer chips are programmed for such devices as keyless entry fobs and other wireless devices used in the auto industry. We also got to see a robot doing quality checks on the production line. At Denso we learned about the expanding and highly competitive advanced manufacturing job market for which we will be preparing some of our scholars here at CMA.

Guest Speakers

Joe Gipson, Manager at Cisco Systems

  • Mr. Gipson spoke to us about the field of cyber-security which is a rapidly expanding job market whose leaders are willing to generously compensate qualified individuals. Joe spoke to us about the job skills and soft skills needed to excel in the field of cyber-security and gave us some ideas for student projects that might help nurture those skills, such as online versions of Capture the Flag. Joe invited us to come visit his office at Cisco, and we look forward to working with Joe and his staff in the future as we begin to mold our cyber-security scholars into the protectors of the future.

Joe Matteo, Division President ProNova Solutions R&D and Manufacturing, Vice President of Research and Development for the Provision Center for Proton Therapy

  • Mr. Matteo spoke to us about the engineering and advanced manufacturing involved in proton therapy and the innovations he and his team have developed to make Pro Nova a leader in proton therapy. Joe also invited us to come see his facility at Pro Nova, and we look forward to learning more from him about entrepreneurship and advanced manufacturing.

Jon Shefner, Head of Sociology, University of Tennessee

  • Dr. Shefner spoke to us about the Green Economy and the role that it will play in the future. We were ecstatic to hear about the wealth of job opportunities that will be created in the new economy, and Jon is confident that scholars will be needed at every exit point in the job market, from certified professionals, to associate’s degrees, to four-year degrees, and beyond! Joe invited our faculty and a select group of our scholars to attend the “Let’s Grow Knoxville’s Green Economy” forum next spring. This forum is a collaborative effort made possible in part by the City of Knoxville, the Knoxville Chamber, and the University of Tennessee. The focus of next year’s summit will be to collaborate with local community colleges to create pathways of study that will prepare graduates to succeed in Tennessee’s Green Economy, which ranks 6th in the country for green economy jobs.


Project-Based Learning (Day 3)

Today our teachers are finalizing their products.  What a great PD session that actually “graduates” you with a product you can take back to your classroom.  Also, they practiced what is called Critical Friends Protocol.  It’s important for teachers and scholars to provide each other feedback but as teachers we need to practice this and also purposefully teach this to our students.






Project-Based Learning (Day 1)

Today, the CMA rockstars are at Hall Elementary participating in the Buck Institute for Education’s Project-Based Learning training.  Here are some shots from our experiences:


Maria presents on Significant Content



(Left to Right:  Kay, John, Sue)






Jill Shinlever


Jill Black







Allow me to introduce myself!

Hello everyone!  My name is Ryan Milani and last week I was hired to be the TPaCK coach at Career Magnet Academy.

Photo on 7-7-14 at 11.44 AMThis is me!

First, let me explain my role at CMA.  My job will be to work with our teachers on Technology integration, Pedagogy (how you teach), and Content Knowledge.  However, this being the first year of CMA my job will be incredibly broad as I help to build up our digital presence, build digital resources for students to advance and remediate, and work to help our teachers achieve their goals in the classroom.

A little about myself professionally.  I have been in education for 10 years, all of those being served at South-Doyle High School (SDHS) in South Knoxville, TN.  My content area is Mathematics where I taught everything from Pre-Algebra to AP Statistics.  Three years ago the TAP System came to SDHS and I jumped on board as a Mentor Teacher.  Through this experience I fell in love with collaborating with other teachers on instruction in general terms.   The next year a grant funded Data position opened up and my Mathematical brain jumped at that chance.  Last year, I went back into the TAP System as a Mentor Teacher when the grant monies ran out.  I am so excited because the TPaCK position here at CMA will take a lot of my experiences and combine them into one role!

I can’t wait to meet everyone at the cookout on July 17th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at CMA.  We’re housed at the Strawberry Plains Campus of Pellissippi State.  See you then!!


– Ryan Milani




What Is Success?

Maybe it’s because I’ve got advanced manufacturing on the brain, but this week I connected with a quote from Henry Ford who said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” This week at CMA, we’ve done a little bit of all of these things.

First, the building, as well as our faculty/staff, are “coming together.” Every day is more exciting than the last, and each day our building looks more like home. This week saw the dry wall being hung, paint being applied (see the blue/grey in attached pic), and internet cords being routed, as well as the ordering of furniture and the hiring of a few last coveted positions at CMA.

In the interest of “keeping together,” Mr. Faulconer, Mrs. Stowers, and I have been working tirelessly to plan out our first few exciting weeks of professional development which include such events as a tour of the 911 call center, a tour of the Knoxville Botanical Gardens, and a day of team building at the ropes course at Maryville College, just to name a few!

Finally, CMA has already provided all of us with opportunity of “working together” with people from a variety of fields, interests, and experiences. Today alone, I got to speak to a landscape designer, a mechanical engineer and president of Pro Nova R&D and Manufacturing, and an advertising executive. We cannot wait to continue our work with all of you in the coming weeks! Stay tuned next week to learn about more exciting events and developments at CMA!

If Henry Ford is correct, we’ve begun our work here at CMA with resounding success, and we expect nothing but success stories to continue to define us as we move forward.

–Cameron Molchan, Magnet Facilitator

Some relevant links:

Ropes Course

Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

911 Call Center

The Skeleton Crew
The Skeleton Crew