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FHS touts ‘academy’

Hardin Valley Academy will not have a monopoly on academy-style learning in the Sixth District.

Farragut High School, in addition to its existing Science Academy, will be adding academies in math, business, social studies, foreign language and art.

FHS principal Michael Reynolds said, “The importance of these academies is they are a way to get students excited about leaning in a concentrated field, they get teachers excited about the discipline and they allow the community, through the advisory boards, to get involved in our students’ education.

“The [idea] is to make the subject matter come alive for students and I think the internships, the out-of-school experience and the dual credit is a way to keep the students interested. We want to maximize the education experience for our students and make them competitive in a world-wide market,” he added.

FHS math teacher Brenda McGrath said, “We are ready to present the Math Academy to the parents of upcoming ninth-graders. We are going to start introducing it into our classrooms so the students can be thinking about it. They cannot apply for it until 11th grade, but they need to be ready for it.”

McGrath said the other academies are almost ready to present as well, with only a few minor details left to sort out.

The Math Academy will be similar in structure to the already successful Science Academy in that partnerships will be offered with The University of Tennessee that will allow students to shadow UT professors and work on research projects relating to the fields of computer science, math and engineering.

“The students working on research at U-T will receive one hour of university credit and U-T is working with us so there will be no tuition cost to the student,” McGrath said.

At current UT tuition rates, the cost for one credit hour would be about $500.

To be eligible for Math Academy research and university research projects students must:

• Successfully complete four core-courses that include CP or honors level algebra 1, geometry, algebra II and pre-calculus.

• Have a minimum of one other math course at the Advanced Placement level or for college credit.

• Have a minimum of a one-semester internship or senior project in a program approved by the Math Academy Advisory Board.

• Maintain a 3.0 overall grade-point average and 3.0 in mathematics.

• Complete science courses through physics or an equivalent level.

• Be an active member of Mu Alpha Theta.

• Participate in a minimum of 20 cumulative hours in two or more Board-approved activities, which include math competitions, peer tutoring in mathematics, workshops, lectures and additional activities as presented to the Board for approval.

• Successfully prepare a journal or portfolio that verifies the completion of all requirements for the Math Academy

• Complete all other graduation requirements.

The Math Academy also will serve students who do not wish, or do not qualify, to work at the university research level but are interested in careers that rely heavily on math skills.

“We have some students we know are very bright but for some reason are not in an honors or A-P class and we do not want to leave those students behind. If they want to be involved in these things and are willing to do all that is necessary we want them to be there,” McGrath said.

Unlike HVA where students choose an academy path in ninth grade that will determine their main focus throughout their high school career, FHS students can belong to multiple academies.

McGrath said if a student is so inclined, and can keep up with the extra work required to participate in multiple academies, they could potentially graduate from all FHS academies.

“We anticipate that Science and Math will be sort of a crossover. Of course students will have to meet the requirements for both, but we anticipate the research for one might encompass both academies,” she added.

Reynolds credits Knox County Board of Education for allowing FHS flexibility to implement its academy program.

“I think it is great the central office gives us the freedom to explore different ways to encourage our learners. We have chosen a way in which our instructors have designed it as opposed to it being a canned program that is handed to us,” he added.

The Science Academy, which has met with much fanfare since its inception in 2006, has resulted in research partnerships with UT as well as Oak Ridge National Laboratories and, McGrath said, has helped equip students with technical and networking skills to make the transition to college easier.

All FHS academies will be prepared to admit students this fall.


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