January Open House


Our January open house was held last Tuesday, 1/27, and it was our biggest turn out yet! We hosted seventy individuals from all over the county. We only have about twenty seats left, so get your applications in before February 17th!

ANNOUNCEMENT: The date of our February open house has changed to Thursday, 2/12 @ 5:00. Come see us at 7171 Strawberry Plains Pike.

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Welcome Back!

Hello Again and Welcome Back!
I hope everyone had a restful and peaceful break with plenty of  opportunities to spend time with family and loved ones. We are already back at it full swing here at the Career Magnet Academy. I will send out a more informative post soon to update everyone on all things CMA, but today is a special day . . .

Presidential Visit

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Much to our pleasure and surprise, President Obama announced that he would be making a speech at Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley Campus. Dr. Anthony Wise, President of PSCC, invited our founding principal, Mr. Faulconer, and five of our scholars to attend the event ! As if this were not reason enough to celebrate, President Obama invited our five scholars to sit on stage with him during his address. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our scholars! Stay tuned for more pictures, news clips, and information after Friday’s event! If you’re just now finding out about our amazing school, please come visit us for our next magnet showcase on the evening of February 12th @ 5:00. We still have twenty spots available for next year’s freshmen class. Apply here by clicking here.


Pathways of Study

Ms. Sudduth, our guidance counselor, has been working diligently to lay out our pathways of study. While these pathways are subject to change due to changes in the curriculum or scheduling, one can get a good idea of what a four-year course of study or beyond might look like in each pathway. Light blue boxes are dual credit courses taught by CMA teachers at the high school during ninth and tenth grade, orange boxes are dual enrollment courses being taught upstairs at PSCC in college classrooms with college students.

What’s New on the Recruiting Trail

As we roll into the holiday season, I thought it might be good to let all our readers know where we will be recruiting after the holiday, during the remaining two months of the recruiting window. Remember, we only accept 125 freshmen each year. The deadline to apply is February 17th. Click here for a link to the Knox County Transfer Application.

Middle School Visits

Open Houses (7171 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville TN, 37914)

  • January 27th, 5:00 pm
  • February 12th, 5:00 pm

Reflecting on Our First Semester

Hello CMA Family!
We’ve been so busy creating a new school and school culture, and so much has happened since the school year began that it’s going to be difficult to hit all the high points . . . but here goes!

Field Experiences

Because they are called upon to choose a career pathway at the end of  their freshman year, each of our scholars is exposed to all four career pathways during the course of their freshman year. We also provide our scholars with a meaningful field experience which gives them the opportunity to interact with professionals from each career pathway to find out what opportunities are out there and what skills our students will need to have in order to succeed in each career pathway.

Homeland Security

Rural Metro, Anderson County HAZMAT Team, Tennessee State Highway Patrol, and KPD were instrumental in allowing our scholars the opportunity to learn about possible careers as first responders. Our students got first-hand tours of a variety of first responder vehicles and even got a chance to drive the THP’s semi simulator.

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Sustainable Living

David Bolt at Sustainable Future was kind enough to allow us to visit his business in Vestal where he talked to our sustainable living group about the burgeoning field of aquaponics and the challenges and rewards of living sustainably.

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After learning about aquaponics, this group of scholars came back to CMA and, with the help of David Bolt and Wendy Prothro-Howard, they built their own twenty-gallon aquaponics systems right here at CMA!

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Teaching As a Profession

Wendy Prothro-Howard and the University of Tennessee’s Every Child Outdoors hosted our teaching as a profession crew at UT’s outdoor classroom on the grounds of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. Our students learned how to teach Language Arts and Biology standards through the invaluable hands-on experience of gardening. Project-Based Learning is a priority at the Career Magnet Academy, and even our students are learning how design and execute PBL lessons.

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Advanced Manufacturing

Our advanced manufacturing group got a special visit from Amy the Engineer who spoke to them about the field of advanced manufacturing and the seemingly endless opportunities available to scholars with engineering degrees.

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Because we want to give our students opportunities for extracurricular activities and social interaction, offering a variety of clubs is a priority for our faculty, staff, and parents at CMA.

HAM Radio Club

The Radio Amateur Club of Knoxville (RACK) paid us a visit and wrangled up a great deal of interest in a HAM radio club here at CMA. Knox County Schools’ CTE department caught wind of this and agreed to fund a HAM radio station right here at the school! We are currently in the process of putting together our tower. Thank you Mr. Greg Williams, an active parent here at CMA, for sponsoring the HAM radio club and for helping our scholars become licensed amateur radio operators!

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Other Clubs . . .

Here is a list of other clubs that are up-and-running at CMA:

Club Meeting Day Meeting Room Sponsor First Meeting
Robotics Mondays,9:00-9:25 1120 Mrs. CroweMrs. Rose 9/18/14
Robotics Club looks at advertising and marketing, business, technical standards and documentation, computer programming, as well as mechanical and electrical engineering. Students learn to work with technical experts and cooperate with other area teams to build a robot and compete regionally.
Yearbook Mondays,9:00-9:25 1130 Mr. Milani TBD
If you have an eye for design and a professional attitude then yearbook might be the place to get involved. You can apply for Yearbook through the module in Canvas starting Tuesday, September 9th. Members will be announced Friday the 12th. Yearbook also has a huge need for photography so if you’re interested in or experienced at photography then please consider applying.
Film Studies Tuesdays,9:00-9:25 1126 Ms. Black 9/16/14
In Film Studies, we will talk about different genres of film. Not all movies make the cut, so what is it that makes them unforgettable?
Photography Tuesdays,9:00-9:25 1131 Señora Nolen 9/16/14
Do you love taking pictures or being in them? Do you enjoy documenting both special occasions and ordinary events? The photography club may be for you, then! We will learn about taking great pictures, including posing, lighting, editing, using DSLR cameras, and more. We will also work on projects to document personal and school moments through photography. The club will meet weekly on Tuesday mornings at 9:00 in Señora Nolen’s room (Room 1131). Be sure to come to our interest meeting on Tuesday, September 15th at 9:00 a.m.
Student Government Tuesdays,9:00-9:25 1123 Mrs. Shinlever 9/16/14
Student Government members seek to make a positive impact on the school and the community. Members lead in decision-making related to school events and community service projects All members must have at least two teacher recommendations. Class officers are elected by the student body but must be active members of Student Government.
Debate Club Wednesdays,9;00-9:25 1128 Mrs. Webb 9/10/14
 Come to Debate Club. Deliberate past and contemporary issues with other scholars.
Ambassadors Every other Wednesday,8:45-9:25 1130 Mr. Molchan 10/1/14
Ambassadors serve as student leaders for school and recruitment events. These students are role models for others. They are responsible for building tours, student-speaking engagements, providing student input, and welcoming visitors to CMA. An application and recommendations are required.
Bible Study Club Wednesdays, 9:00-9:25 1135 Mrs. Rose 9/10/14
Matthew 5:16 – Let Your Light Shine Before OthersCome and be a part of Bible Study Club. We will learn together how to “let our light shine before others.”
Athletics Fridays, 9:00-9:25 1127 Mrs. Taylor 9/12/14
Interested in soccer, football, baseball, or other sports? Athletics Club is for you! Athletics Club will offer a variety of sports options on Fridays. Please plan to bring your own equipment. The interest meeting will be Friday, 9/12.
Yarn Arts/2D Media Fridays (2nd & 4th Friday of the month),9:00-9:25 1122 Mrs. Battle Interest meeting 9/12
Are you interested in Knitting, Crochet, Cross stitching, sewing/embroidery?  Do you like a 2d art form like drawing, inking, or even digital media?  The yarn arts/2D media club is the place for you.  Bring a project, or bring your curiosity to learn a craft and spend some time with like-minded people.  Get a critique on your work, or share your knowledge with others.  This club is all about helping each other become better artists in your chosen media.
Book Club Fridays (1st & 3rd Friday of the month),9:00-9:25 1122 Mrs. Battle Interest meeting 9/12
Interested in reading?  Do you feel stuck in your genre and want a chance to explore what’s out there?  Join book club!  Books are chosen by the members and are discussed during meetings.  Discussions will include many different topics.  Get a chance to practice those soft skills with peers and participate in deeper thinking discussion!  (Note: Some books will be chosen simply for entertainment.)


Outdoor Club, Fridays @ 4:35 pm, Cafeteria, Mr. Blankenship

Do you enjoy any of the following? Skeet-Shooting; Archery; Fishing; Manual Labor in the form of service projects; Hillbilly Hand-fishing; Hunting Safety License; Hunting Trip discussions; Camping discussions; Frog Gigging.  Please join the founders: Tobias Dubose, Paul Stiles, Kole Fisk, Connor Peak, Tylor Gann, Joshua Rutherford, Trey Hurst and advisor, Mike Blankenship, in the Outdoor Club. Meetings will resume in January.  Come if you can!


Tennessee LEAD Conference

Because we are the first school of our kind in the state of Tennessee, we were asked to present at the Tennessee LEAD Conference. Mr. Riley (CTE Supervisor), Mr. Faulconer (CMA Principal), Mrs. Stowers (CMA Assistant Principal), and Mr. Molchan (Magnet Facilitator) presented to a crowd of seventy-five administrators and supervisors from across the state who are interested in starting schools similar to CMA. We are truly leaders of the pack and worthy of the grey wolves mascot.

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Our recruiting season kicked off on October 23rd with the Magnet Showcase at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame where our sustainable living students put on display a portable, twenty-gallon aquaponics system that they built in their pathway class. Even Dr. McIntyre was intrigued with their project!

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Our CMA Ambassadors have been traveling with Mr. Molchan to recruiting events at middle schools throughout the county sharing our story with eighth-graders and inspiring them to come to CMA!

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College and Career Readiness

College and Career Readiness is one of the first dual credit courses that our freshmen take at CMA. It is a college-level course that all college freshmen at Pellissippi State Community College have to take, and we require our high school freshmen to take the same course. One of the requirements for college freshmen is to find professionals who work in their field of study and interview them. Because our freshmen cannot yet drive, we brought the professionals to them. Thanks to Denso, Knox County TAP, Seymour Volunteer Fire Department, Nanaan Jiang, Cisco Security, and the Nursing Department at PSCC.

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Sorry it’s been so long since my last update, but once school officially started, things started moving so quickly around here that I haven’t had time to blog. Where should I begin?

Ribbon Cutting/Press Releases


Let’s start with the ribbon cutting and the wonderful press coverage that we received throughout the county. Our official ribbon cutting was on Friday, August 8th, and we had dignitaries on campus from throughout the county including Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and Pellissippi State Community College President Anthony Wise!

1:1 Laptop Deployment

Nikki Baker teaching a 1:1 lesson in Health and Wellness.

On the evening of August 22nd, our scholars each received an 11′ MacBook Air to use throughout their tenure here at the Career Magnet Academy. Each teacher also has a MacBook Air as well as access to SMART Board technology and, eventually, state of the art video conferencing equipment to bring the world to our students’ fingertips.

Pathway Fridays

This week marks the first Friday that our scholars attended their pathway workshops. Because we want our scholars to make an informed decision regarding which of our four career pathways to pursue, we will expose them to each of these pathways during our Pathway Fridays. On Friday, Mrs. Wendy Prothro Howard from the University of Tennesse visitied with our Sustainable Living group and explained to them the theory behind Aquaponics while building for them a one-gallon aquaponics system replete with a pump, a goldfish, and a strawberry plant.

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Wendy Prothro Howard from the University of Tennessee introduces our Sustainable Living scholars to aquaponics.

Next week, Mr. David Bolt from Sustainable Future will meet with the same group of scholars to begin planning a twenty-gallon version of the same system. Once the building of the system is underway, our other pathways will begin workshops that explore how aquaponics might impact their fields of study. All of this is in preparation for the Knox County Magnet Showcase on October 23rd where our scholars will put their aquaponics project on display and explain its relevance to each of our four career pathways of focus.

Mary Nolen and Nikki Baker introduce our scholars to Teaching As a Profession.
Mary Nolen and Nikki Baker introduce our scholars to Teaching As a Profession.
Cameron Molchan discusses soft skills and the importance of active listening with our Sustainable Living scholars.
Cameron Molchan discusses soft skills and the importance of active listening with our Sustainable Living scholars.
Angela Taylor, Jill Black, and Laura Webb introduce our scholars to Homeland Security.
Angela Taylor, Jill Black, and Laura Webb introduce our scholars to Homeland Security.
Kay Rose introduces our scholars to Advanced Manufacturing.
Kay Rose introduces our scholars to Advanced Manufacturing.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Of course, Mr. John Faulconer, Dr. Mike North, and I would be remiss if we didn’t accept Mrs. Melissa Stowers’s ice bucket challenge. A fun way to energize the student body, mind, and spirit while generating awareness of ALS. Stay tuned for pictures.

As always, please refer interested parents and students to:

Cameron Molchan, Magnet Facilitator




Let the Countdown Begin!

Well, here we are on the eve of our new beginning, and, according to Plato, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” In the past, I’ve always understood this quote to mean that, without the beginning, the work never happens. Over the course of the past week, however, I’ve learned that the beginning is the most important part of our work for a number of reasons.

Setting the Tone

The beginning sets the tone for the remainder of the work. While discussing the mission and vision of the school this week with our faculty, the words “passion,” “persistence,” “tenacity,” “life-long learning,” and “relationships” kept coming up time and time again. Tomorrow is not just the beginning of school–it’s the beginning of each of our scholar’s search and tenacious pursuit of a passion as well as the ongoing pursuit of each of our teacher’s and administrator’s passions. Tomorrow is also the first stitch in a complex net of relationships that will serve to catch each of us multiple times in the future when we fall or stray along the way. The tone we set tomorrow will resonate well into the future of each of our lives!

Affirming the Goal

With all due respect to Plato, the word “beginning” is a bit of a misnomer. The “beginning” isn’t really the beginning at all. Before one can begin, one must know what the goal is, or what one wants. Each of us has come to CMA for a specific reason, or with a specific goal in mind. As Magnet Facilitator, my goal is to make CMA a place where young people come to find their place in the world and to turn their dreams into reality. Yes, I want our scholars to graduate high school with an advanced certification or associate’s degree, but I also want our scholars to graduate with their independence and with a sense of purpose. One cannot begin without an end in mind. Take some time this evening to think about what your goal might be.


Perhaps the most significant reason that the beginning is “the most important part of the work” is because it is the moment most infused with a sense of hope. Without hope, nobody ever began anything worthy. Tomorrow, may your hopes wake you before your alarm; may your hopes help you choose an outfit worthy of them; may your hopes help you eat a breakfast hearty enough to pursue  them. Above all, may all of our hopes find us safely here at CMA–the place where hope comes to be born. When things become difficult and we want to give up, we must remember the beginning and renew our hope is order to persevere. Tomorrow is the day we will remember when the going gets tough. If nothing else, let us say “Tomorrw, we begin!”

Freshmen Orientation Schedule for Friday, August 8th

8:45-9:30: Scholars report to CMA

9:30-9:50: Advisory

10:00-11:00: Ribbon Cutting (Public Invited)

11:05-11:15: Advisory

11:20-12:55: Abbreviated Class Schedule (1st-4th Blocks)

Remainder: Closing Remarks

BucCAO2IAAIn4I6 BucCBmHIcAAQMuKCMA Master Routes 2014-2015

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.