Roosevelt Elementary Students Create Butterfly Garden

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We are unique…

So how can real learning take place in our schools and classrooms… where students move beyond textbook resources and develop deep personal understandings of the subjects they study? How can a community come together to ensure that all students have rich learning environments that take learning to an entirely new level? And how can we ensure that these experiences cater to the individual needs and interests of our children? For the students in the Roosevelt Elementary School Life Skills class, it began with a little help, a lot of ambition, and a cooperative spirit that has led to a large-scale project full of excitement and new learnings.

Beginning in November, 2013, Life Skills teacher Morgan Saunders applied for and received an Eastman “Putting Children First” grant. These funds, generously supplied by Eastman Chemical Company, support and encourage innovative classroom-level projects all across northeast Tennessee. In Ms. Saunders class, it allowed for an in-depth life-cycle project to occur through the creation of a fully developed butterfly garden.

Through this study, Ms. Saunders, her students, and the staff at Roosevelt have reared over 100 painted lady butterflies, built and planted a sustainable butterfly garden, and released the butterflies into their garden creation.  Along the way, they have experienced numerous classroom opportunities focusing on investigation, the sequencing of life cycles, habitats, and the stages of development. Lasting from November through May, this extended hands-on study provided countless opportunities for learning, excitement, and growth.

Every Kingsport City Schools student has individual talents and interests. With the help of Eastman, Ms. Saunders has been able to cultivate a curiosity and love of science in her students, leading to a hands-on, learning-rich environment. We are fortunate to have such fantastic corporate partners that make these unique opportunities possible, and such terrific children that thrive in the excitement of new learning.

Just like the butterflies they released into their new habitat, the students at Roosevelt are distinct individuals, full of life and beauty, and certainly ready to fly!

We are unique… We are KCS.

Dobyns-Bennett High School Dramahawks


We are exceptional…

When the long and successful history of Dobyns-Bennett academic and extra-curricular programs are considered, you’d better make sure to place the D-B Theatre Department very close to the top of the list. With a litany of local, regional, and state honors achieved, Director Debbie Coram continues to develop the “Dramahawks” into some of the finest actors and actresses in the state. The bar continues to remain high, and our students (not surprisingly), continue to surpass those high expectations.

Earlier this month, D-B students again struck it big at the state drama tournament in Nashville, winning top honors in a variety of categories. The cast of “Teen Drama Takes a Hike” won the state Interpreters’ Theatre title (Daniel Jernigan, Lukas McCrary, Hunter Eaton, Jackson Fox, Zoe Stout, Merritt Cagle, Haleigh Hankins, Lauren Feathers, and Anna Mader), while Aaron Johnson and Ben Blevins took the title for Duet Acting. Other top results were turned in by Kelli Frawley (3rd place, Costume Design), Grayson Marshall (3rd place, Prose Interpretation), Devin Hooven (4th place, Pantomime), McKenzie Miller (4th place, Humorous Interpretation), Astrid Rotenberry (4th place, Solo Acting), Anna Mader (4th place, Storytelling) and Maxine Poole and Zach Shafer (5th place, Duet Acting).

One of the key foundational philosophies at D-B is that students are given a wide variety of opportunities and experiences (both inside and outside the classroom) in which to find excellence. How exciting to see that mindset embraced by a faculty that works hard to provide such varied experiences, and by a student body that excitedly steps forward to discover and cultivate the talents that lie within. The 2014 Dramahawks are a prime example of this philosophy. They should be applauded for their commitment to excellence and for displaying their talents both figuratively and literally on the local and statewide stage.

We are exceptional… We are KCS.

Johnson Elementary’s Free Little Libraries

We are Community…

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Ask any teacher or librarian (or student, for that matter) for their top tips on how to become a better reader, and having access to high quality reading materials is sure to be high on the list. But what can be done to help make sure that this actually takes place, especially outside the walls of the school itself?

The students and staff at Johnson Elementary have taken this to heart and decided to take a proactive step to help make reading materials more available to those in their community by building “Free Little Libraries.” A little larger than a mailbox, these are constructed and placed in neighborhood areas so that children and families can have quick and 24/7 access to books when they can’t get to a school or public library. Community members can simply borrow the books from the Free Little Library and return them when they are finished reading. And as the name suggests, there is no charge to have access to these books… The entire program works on the honor system.

Principal Stacy Edwards, librarian Rebecca Thomasson, and the staff at Johnson continue to collect books to place in the Free Little Libraries, with the first being located in the Miller Village community. A second Free Little Library will be placed outside of Johnson Elementary, which will help serve the surrounding neighborhood when the school library is not accessible in the evenings or when school is not in session. This has truly been a community project, as students, families, and school staff have all worked to find materials and bring this venture to life.

It’s a concept that is quickly taking hold all across Kingsport.  The Kingsport Public Library has one at the library and one on Bays Mountain.  Lincoln Elementary expects to have five in place by this fall.  Jackson Elementary should have two in their community by the end of the school year.  With Johnson’s leadership, access to quality reading materials throughout our community is greater than ever.

What a great example of a group that looks beyond working to just provide what students need at school, and has their eye on supporting the entire surrounding community even when the school day is done. The new Free Little Libraries will support all children in the Johnson area, both young and old, by fostering a culture of literacy, trust, and shared purpose. Hats off to the children, staff, and families of Johnson Elementary for dreaming big, even with the product is “Little”!

We are community… We are KCS.