Pathway Wednesdays

Tomorrow is an exciting day at Career Magnet Academy because it is the first day of Pathway Wednesdays! We are particularly excited about our pathway sessions this year because we have some new partners in education who have agreed to host our field experiences. We also have sophomore pathways this year where our tenth-grade scholars will spend the entire school year working on a pathway-specific PBL.

Thanks to Our Hosts and Helpers!

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Freshmen Pathways

During their freshmen year, our scholars are exposed to each of our four career pathways during five-week rotations. Each rotation culminates in a field experience which allows the freshmen the opportunity to see the pathways in action. After they have cycled through each of the four pathways, our freshmen are better able to make an informed choice for their pathway of focus come February 24th. Here are the field experiences every freshmen will have:

Each pathway also has guest speakers who come to share more information about their pathway and their particular work experiences. We are happy also to have Keurig Green Mountain on board in this capacity. After our freshmen declare their pathway of focus on February 18th, they will join the sophomore pathways to work on a pathway-specific PBL for the remainder of the year in preparation for our Pathway Showcase on April 21st. Stay tuned for pictures and information as our pathways progress!

Sophomore Pathways

Homeland Security: Our homeland security sophomores will be working with Mrs. Blevins and Mrs. Black to design an emergency response plan from the perspective of their homeland security career choice. Students will design and build a model of the segment of their city that is in distress and present and defend their response plans at the Pathway Showcase on April 21st. Both our sophomore and freshman homeland security pathways will have the honor of working with industry representatives from Sword & Shield Enterprise Security and from the Smoky Mountain Chapter of The American Society for Industrial Security.

Advanced Manufacturing: Our advanced manufacturing sophomores will work with Mrs. Rose on a number of projects. First, they will complete a ten-hour, online General Industry Safety Training to become OSHA certified and create a safety video to present to our freshmen advanced manufacturing pathway groups. Next, our advanced manufacturing scholars will work with East Tennessee Technology Access Center to modify toys for young people with disabilities.

Teaching As a Profession: Our teaching as a profession scholars will be visiting schools in the Knoxville area that are representative of a variety of educational approaches and philosophies including, but limited to, Montessori schools, charter schools, and Paideia schools. Our teaching as a profession scholars will get to meet and learn from experts in the field of education such as Dr. John Rysewyk, founding principal of Emerald Charter Schools and Buzz Thomas, president of Great Schools Partnership. For a culminating project, our teaching as a profession scholars will design their own school and classroom that is representative of their own educational philosophy.

Sustainable Living: Our sustainable living scholars will be leading a service learning PBL that addresses the driving question “How can we enhance the campus of PSCC and CMA to accomplish two goals: 1) Increase biological diversity 2) Create a place that encourages and inspires staff representatives and scholars?” We are looking forward to our scholars’ proposed solutions, and we cannot wait to see what they build on our campus! Stay tuned for pictures.

Teacher Externships

Beardsley Farms

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Thursday, our faculty had the opportunity to visit Beardsley Community Farm. Beardsley is located at 1719 Reynolds Street and is an urban community farm that, in addition to donating food to the Family Crisis Center, Bridge Refugee Services, Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM), and Western Heights Baptist Center, also educates the surrounding community on organic and sustainable urban gardening and provides tools and support to community members to assist them in growing their own food. We spent the first part of the morning touring the facility and asking questions and the latter part of the morning weeding the tomato beds.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

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Friday, we spent the morning touring Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. We started the day thinking that we would learn a lot about advanced manufacturing, and we did, but we also learned about teaching in the profession (Green Mtn does an extraordinary job educating, training, informing, and retaining their staff), sustainable living (Green Mtn is tackling the challenge of recyclable K-Cups and is constantly monitoring their environmental footprint), and homeland security (GMCR has to protect their product from any contamination–accidental or otherwise). After a year of learning and teaching our four career pathways (homeland security, advanced manufacturing, teaching as a profession, and sustainable living), we are still amazed at the extent to which the pathways are interconnected in all facets of industry.

Welcome Back!

Hello from all of us here at Career Magnet Academy! We are excited to be back for our second year. This is an exciting year for us for a number of reasons. First, because we added a new freshman class and retained our sophomore class, this is the only year our student population will double! The halls of CMA will be crowded with excitement as our founding class and our incoming freshmen tackle a new academic year. Here are some important impending dates:

  • New Family Intake (Call Cameron at 622-3838 to schedule an appointment):
    • Monday, July 27th @ 5:00
    • Thursday, July 30th @ 6:15
    • Kickoff Cookout: Thursday, September 24, 5-7
  • Freshman Orientation: Friday, August 7th, half-day
  • First Day for All Students: Monday, August 10th!

CMA Robotics – Lessons Learned from a Coach’s Perspective By Maria Crowe

Late September 2014, I registered our USFIRST robotics team. Because our school is in its first year, there were no team members, money, robotics lab, tools, parts, and, most of all, no knowledge or experience in managing a robotics team. All I had was a vision of a competition-ready robotics team for the 2015 season.

Our regional director, LJ Robinson, convinced me that starting a team was really possible. She quickly connected me to people and teams in the area that could answer questions and guide our team. Mark Buckner and Sydney Buckner, both USFIRST Regional Representatives, provided fast answers to many questions.

Lesson #1 – Seek expertise from those who can help you succeed. From the very beginning, you will need mentors outside of your own team.

Weekly informational robotics meetings and a parent meeting brought together the first few student members. Weekly meetings were focused on communicating USFIRST values and guidelines on “Gracious Professionalism” and safety. We built excitement by showing USFIRST videos of past competitions. Oak Ridge High School visited our school with their robots to give reality to our vision.

Lesson #2 – Communicate USFIRST expectations and guidelines from the very start, and review these expectations frequently.

Lesson #3 – Motivate team by showing them examples of success.

In developing our business plan, it became clear we needed to organize our team into specific departments. Team members decided what area they were most interested in: engineering, programming, and business/marketing. We identified those students with leadership potential for the manager positions. All leadership roles required a demonstration of a good work ethic and people skills, as well as a willingness to dedicate time and service to the team. Sometimes, a student realized they had a greater desire or skill to work in a different department, so we allowed for some changes in team roles.

Lesson #4 – Organize team into specific jobs early. Identify team leaders and modify roles as necessary in case of attrition or the discovery of special skills.

The amount of money needed to build a USFIRST robotics team is very intimidating and finding sponsors was critical to our success. The best marketing ideas came from other USFIRST teams in the area. They willingly shared how they raised enough funds to compete year after year. Taking advantage of grants, like the USFIRST Rookie Grant, was critical. We had to pursue every opportunity to fund our team’s needs.

Lesson #5 – Seeking sponsorships is a priority. Get help from other USFIRST teams and your regional director immediately. Stay alert for any opportunities for funding, such as grants.

We prepared for Kick-off and the build season by asking other teams in the area what types of tools and parts we would need. We also set up a workspace and communicated “build season” time commitments to the team and school administration. During “build season”, we took advantage of every opportunity to get help building our robot. We attended “quick build” sessions at kick-off and found a mentor team that allowed us to work alongside them once a week (Oak Ridge Wildbots, Team #4265). We connected each team member with a mentor in the same role on the experienced robotics team, so they could quickly get answers to questions.

Lesson #6 – Find a mentor team that can help guide you in pre-season preparations and build season activities. Work in a shared space with your mentor team at least once a week for guidance and support.

Lesson #7 – Keep good communication through out the season with school administrators, coaches, parents, students, and other robotics teams.

As a coach, it was important for me to allow the student team members to learn from making decisions and doing the hands-on work. However, it was just as important to stay involved in day-to-day decisions, so that I could offer guidance or resolve conflicts. From the very beginning, we expected that our rookie year would be very challenging. It was important to take a realistic look at difficult situations and do the very best with the resources and support we had to work with.

Lesson #8 – Keep a positive outlook in spite of conflicts and challenging circumstances. Expect difficulties to arise, and accept that growing into a successful USFIRST Robotics team is a long-term process. Set new goals by reflecting on the past season and focus on making the next year better than the last.

Here are some pictures from our most recent robotics exhibition at South Knox Elementary School:





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Intake Day 2015!

Saturday, May 2nd and Tuesday, May 5th were CMA’s intake days for rising freshmen and their parents. This year we had over 180 students from all over Knox County apply to the Career Magnet Academy, and over the course of our intake days we finally got to meet nearly all of the 125 lucky scholars who were accepted. Our new scholars received CMA T-Shirts and had a chance to check out their new digs.

We are also excited about our upcoming Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, May 12th where our new CMA Scholars will get a chance to meet and mingle. If you’re on Twitter, be sure to check out our official Twitter page @CMA_Official, and don’t forget to #cmasquad when you tweet something positive about our school!


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CMA Wolfbots and the First Robotics Competition!

We are especially proud this year of Mrs. Maria Crowe and her ALL-FRESHMEN Rookie Robotics Team! Not only was Mrs. Crowe able to secure support and funding in a short time for a team that did not exist last year, but she was able to coach them to a 25th place finish overall and 3rd place finish among the rookie teams.

If you are not familiar with robotics, it is not unusual for a rookie team to struggle just to get their robot to pass inspection and get out on the floor to compete. Our CMA Wolfbots breezed through their inspection before lunch and had enough time to get in a practice session, tweak the robot, and get out on the floor again before the conclusion of the opening day of the competition.

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Magnet Schools of America National Conference

On Friday, April 24th, four members of the CMA leadership team had an opportunity to present at the MSA National Conference. We shared how we use student ambassadors to recruit new students, nurture relationships with the private sector, and establish a positive school climate and culture. Our presentation was well attended and well received, especially for a Friday afternoon!

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Recruiting Next Year’s Class!

Because of a winter storm that resulted in ten straight snow days for Knox County Schools, our transfer window was extended through the month of February. At the close of the window last year, we had about 75 students apply for CMA. This year, we are proud to announce that we had over 140 students apply to CMA as their first choice and over 180 apply overall. We are among the first magnet schools in Knox County to go into a lottery at the end of our first year of service. We credit this largely to our student ambassadors who worked tirelessly on the recruiting trail–visiting each middle school in the county, working open houses, guiding school tours, ambushing social media, and generally representing our school in way that attracts the kind of students who will benefit from and contribute to our school the most! CMA ambassadors, you’re the greatest!

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CMA’s Winter Formal

On Friday, February 6th,  our CMA family came together to put on a winter formal. Mrs. Shinlever, our Biology and College & Career Readiness teacher, worked with a group dedicated parents to put together a lovely evening of food, fun, and festivity! While some say the highlight of the evening was getting to see our principal, Mr. Faulconer, bust a move, I maintain that watching some of our faculty and staff dance the YMCA made it all worthwhile.

Mrs. Shinlever with Mr. & Mrs. Key who provided our DJ and Mrs. McCarter, a dedicated and involved parent.

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Tennessee Board of Regents Tour

Today was an exciting day here CMA! We started the day off by attending a breakfast at the University of Tennessee hosted by Pellissippi State Community College in honor of Clayton Homes and the Tennessee Board of Regents. Immediately following the breakfast, two of our student ambassadors, Heidi Brady and Dareece Blue, led a tour of Career Magnet Academy attended by such dignitaries as Chancellor John G. Morgan, Vice Chancellor of Administration David Gregory, President of Pellissippi State Community College Anthony Wise, Vice President of Academic Affairs Ted Lewis, Dean of Pellissippi State Community College Strawberry Plains Campus Mike North, and Assistant Director of Tennessee College of Applied Technology Patrick Wade.