KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) The Knox County School system has opened up a Career Magnet Academy at Pellissippi State Community College, the first-of-its-kind for the state of Tennessee.
The academy welcomed its first Freshman class of 127 students to orientation on Friday. The CMA sets itself apart from other schools because it is geared specifically toward preparing students in four career pathways, as well as teaching standard coursework like math and science.
The four career paths being taught are advanced manufacturing, homeland security, sustainable living, and teacher preparation. Knox County School Superintendent, Dr. Jim McIntyre, said the CMA will offer a seamless transition for students as they leave high school and go into college and their chosen careers.
"We're preparing kids for future jobs that are high skilled, high demand, and high wage careers," McIntyre explained.
Students will learn in smaller class sizes, and will have a more 'hands-on' approach to their field of study. Classes are being held on the Pellissippi State campus, and coursework will even allow students the opportunity to earn an associates degree by the time they graduate high school.
Even though students will learn specific skills in the four targeted fields of study, those skills will be taught in conjunction with common classes like mathematics, social studies, and history.
"So when we teach quadratic equations, we're going to teach quadratic equations, but how does that look in teaching prep?" CMA principal John Derek Faulconer explained. "How does that look in sustainable development? How does that look in homeland security? And how does that look in advanced manufacturing?"
And given the fact that this is the first school of its kind within the state of Tennessee, teachers say they are excited to be a part of what they hope to be the newest trend in education.
"It's really a neat opportunity to really kind of pioneer what education in Tennessee might look like a decade from now, because this is the start of something brand new. We get to do things the way we really want to do them and be innovators, and that's a great opportunity as an educator," English teacher Angela Taylor said.
CMA only has a Freshman class of students this year. It will continue to add a Freshman class every year, and will limit the number of students at the academy to 500 once all four class levels are filled.
McIntyre said the academy does not cost anything extra to the student, and coursework to earn college credit can be covered by scholarships when the student reaches their Junior and Senior grade levels.