Career-Themed Academies Revealed For First Cohort Of The 865 Academies

Career-Themed Academies Revealed For First Cohort Of The 865 Academies

Photo Credit: John Valentine

The first cohort of The 865 Academies revealed their new career-themed Academies at a celebration hosted by Central High School on Thursday.

The 865 Academies initiative launched in the fall of 2022, and is designed to transform the high school experience in Knox County. The goal is for every KCS graduate to be prepared for enrolling in postsecondary studies; enlisting in service to their country; or finding employment in a high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand profession, with an entrepreneurial mindset.

By establishing career-themed academies, the initiative will create small learning communities within larger schools, allowing students to participate in career exploration activities and take a deep dive into areas of interest while also building strong connections with teachers and other students.

“We’ve got to prepare students, and school systems are uniquely positioned to do that,” said Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk. “Our job is to have students prepared for when they graduate.”

The celebration was attended by community leaders and industry partners, including Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who said 865Ready graduates will ultimately benefit Knox County and East Tennessee. 

“This is just wonderful to see a really intentional, strategic effort to in some ways customize the student experience,” Jacobs said. “They get the tools and the skills that they need to excel in areas that they’re either naturally drawn to or things that they love.”

Gordon Heins, the president and chairman of the A.G. Heins Company, said industry partnerships positively impact both organizations and students. By working together, KCS students are provided valuable opportunities for work-based learning and career exploration.

“As an employer, we want students to come to us looking for good-paying jobs, and that they’re prepared, and they have the tools,” he said.

Central High School is in the first cohort of The 865 Academies, and Principal Dr. Andrew Brown said student performance in Algebra I has improved, while discipline referrals are down.”

Brown credited Freshman Seminar, a new class that focuses on helping 9th-graders identify interests, aptitudes and professional skills, adding that “we are already beginning to see great results out of that work.

CHS senior Justus Hayes was involved in the early stages of launching the Academies initiative, and is also an entrepreneur. He started his own business, Blended Clothing, and during the ceremony presented shirts to several local leaders. 

“Entrepreneurship is a very important thing to me. I love creating, and bringing new apparel and things to our generation,” Hayes said. “It has been my honor to help build and show my support for something that will impact our current and future generations.”

Student Ambassadors from each school presented their new Academies alongside their principals. Below are the Academies for the first cohort.

Carter High School and South-Doyle High School will be joining The 865 Academies as the second cohort in the fall.

For more information on The 865 Academies, visit knoxschools.org/academies.

Fulton Courses Give Insight Into Criminal Justice Careers

Fulton Courses Give Insight Into Criminal Justice Careers

Caleb Andrist, who helped launch a Criminal Justice curriculum at Fulton High School,
gives students instruction on how to make an arrest.

As the City of Knoxville builds a $57 million Public Safety Complex in North Knoxville, the facility is expected to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students in a new criminal justice program at Fulton High School.

The program is led by teacher Caleb Andrist, a former law enforcement officer with agencies including the Brentwood Police Department. Three courses are currently offered:

  • Level 1, an introductory course that focuses on policing, the courts and corrections;
  • Level 2, a hands-on course that covers topics including handcuffing, traffic stops and vehicle searches; and
  • Level 3, a forensic science course.

Eventually, students who complete all three courses will be able to enroll in a work-based learning course in partnership with the Knoxville Police Department, which will move its headquarters to the new Public Safety Complex when construction is finished.

  • “When you’re talking about any high school anywhere in America, getting kids to a work-based learning opportunity in criminal justice is going to be difficult,” said Jonathan Egert, principal of the Skilled Professions Small Learning Community at Fulton. “For us, it’s a crossing of the street when that KPD office is open.”

On a recent afternoon, Andrist walked students through the basics of using handcuffs in an arrest situation, then gave pointers as they took turns practicing.

And while issues related to policing can be challenging, Andrist said in an interview that he doesn’t shy away from “the hard stuff”, and that approach builds trust within the classroom.

  • “If there’s a bad situation in police work we will absolutely talk about that, just as much as we’ll talk about the good stuff. And the kids see that and they know that, and that’s where that trust comes from.”

The approach appears to be paying dividends. Egert said there is a buzz around the program among students, who are seeing a different side of policing than they get on social media.

Alayna Roberson, a Fulton senior who is hoping to study criminology, said Andrist has a way of making the material interesting, and that she has enjoyed the class a lot.

“It made me want to know why people do what they do.”