News from CAK
After working in the public school for 25 years, Angel Crider felt plenty of ‘nudges’ from God that maybe it was time for a change. She decided to send her oldest child to Christian Academy of Knoxville, a private school with small class sizes, for his 9th-grade year. At that point, the nudges turned into opportunities.
Crider was offered a job to change her career path and teach 5th grade at CAK, the same school where her son attends. “I know the challenges students face in Middle School, and I love that I can prepare them to not only be ready but to have a head start.”
The smaller class sizes and the freedom of teaching in a Christian setting were huge bonuses for Angel. She loves ministering to her students and that she can guide them through scripture and love as they grow and change. “As a teacher, being able to meet my students where they are is huge. Small classes allow me the flexibility to reach out to them in small groups and one on one instruction to clear up any misunderstandings.”
The teachers at CAK love their school, each other, and their Savior.
“I adore this school system. Being in an environment with high expectations and strong standards, students thrive. I believe that is what parents want- teachers who love their child and help them to reach goals.”
While the quarantine was hard on everyone, the family atmosphere at CAK touched Angel. “I became a teacher to be in the classroom with the students, not on a screen. On the very last day of school, the 5th grade students had a parade for the 5th grade teachers. I walked outside to start the parade and I looked up and there were students everywhere. I was speechless, and I could not contain my tears of joy. I love the family atmosphere that CAK Elementary has brought to my teaching.”
At the beginning of the 2019 school year, Monica Beaumont began with an excitement that only a new teacher can feel when returning home. You see, Ms. Beaumont is an alumnus of CAK, and she accepted a position teaching 5th grade Social Studies in the very school where she spent her youth.
“As once a student and now a teacher at CAK, I can tell you that CAK fully prepared me for life after high school academically and spiritually.”
'This school is like one big supportive, loving family'
And she had no idea how much she’d need that family this year. No one could have foreseen COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic, closing schools nation-wide late in the school year. But CAK did not “close,” instead, young Warriors continued learning remotely. And Ms. Beaumont was learning right alongside them.
“Right before we left for Spring Break, unknowing what the future might hold, I shared a special moment with my students: I had just returned from speaking at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville that day, and we had one big group hug before leaving for dismissal. I honestly told them that I do not know what is going to happen or when we might see each other again, we held each other and prayed. We “popcorn” prayed in which each student can pray out loud if they wished. Every single one of them prayed for health (for their family and others) and that we see each other again soon. I held that moment close to my heart during those last few months of the school year.”
Maintaining a connection with her class during distance learning was important.
“Growth academically and spiritually continued even though it seemed like the world was shutting down. The technology, resources, and connections are bountiful in this school. I know I was thankful as a student to have attended here, so much so that I chose to return!”
Monica was thankful for the connections made while a student at CAK. After graduating from UTK with her teaching degrees, returning to teach at CAK was her heart’s desire and 5th grade was the perfect fit. “5th grade is my favorite grade, I love everything about it from the students to the content. At this age, they are independent enough to do a little more complex experiments but also young enough to still like silly books about what we are learning.”
The smaller class sizes and the freedom of teaching at a private school were a distinct advantage to Monica. “I can spend so much one on one time with each student to meet their specific needs. This also helps me to build a great student to teacher relationship that is unmatched in large class sizes. I love that I can share and discuss my faith with my students. I also love that I can be there for them during their walk with Jesus.”
Students are not just taught at Christian Academy of Knoxville, a preschool through 12th grade private school located in West Knoxville, TN. They are a part of a community that loves and shapes their heart for the kingdom of God, and that really does take a village.
Being smaller than most of the local public schools (and having much smaller class sizes) allows us the freedom to give more individualized attention to students and their needs. It gives us the opportunity to have more time with students, which is so important when you are building their foundation.
Another freedom we have, as an independent school, is that we are not restricted by the amount of time we can spend on subjects or topics. We can adjust our class schedule and time to go deeper into assignments and topics that are relevant to our students.
This is important academically, but even more so spiritually. CAK is a covenant school, a school that works in partnership with Christian parents from all different denominational backgrounds. That means I am able to not only live out my faith, but weave it into all the curricula that I teach. We are not restricted in what or how we teach the word, and our students and teachers can discuss academics along with faith.
Students will be protected and guided throughout their years at CAK. It is a safe place to learn, both academically and spiritually. Parents and teachers are a part of a partnership that leads the students through their schooling. It is a very special place.
Although we are small enough for individual attention, we are also large enough to offer extras like French and Spanish at the elementary level. We also offer STEM, and our school is a 1:1 iPad school, starting in the 3rd grade.
We emphasize that technology is only a tool. In the grade level I teach, fourth grade, we plan all projects and work using collaboration with hands-on learning and our iPads. Hands-on learning is not replaced by technology.
My favorite memories always showcase how God reveals Himself to my students. For example, this year, we studied one particular Psalm right before we began distance learning. It was Psalm 8. During the first week of "distance" church services, one of our pastors used that Psalm for his entire sermon! Being able to share that with students allows them to see that God does see us, and He knows us. The reassurance of that happened multiple times this year. They are not coincidences, which the world would teach, they are true moments where God reveals Himself to us.
I love the community at CAK. Students, parents, and faculty members are my family. We hope you will consider joining our family too!
At Christian Academy of Knoxville, we offer a few different options for students who need extra enrichment. From our Junior K, which provides for an extra year before Kindergarten, to our Academic Centers, to our Pre-1st program, which is what we will explore below.
Pre-1st uses different curriculum approaches than Kindergarten to further lay the educational, social, and emotional foundations before 1st grade. “The ability to develop my relationship with each child is definitely a positive aspect,” says CAK pre-1st teacher Ms. Carol Shipley. “Smaller class sizes are valued by CAK’s administration, so there is the freedom to pursue conversations which sometimes evolve into a deeper understanding of who a child is and how he learns.”
Diving deeper is exactly what pre-1st is all about. Critical pre-reading and reading skills are emphasized, along with math activities that use concrete, representational, and abstract continuums. Bible stories are studied for spiritual insight and application to our daily lives, as we look expectantly to see how God is with us each day.
“The thing I most love about teaching at CAK is the wide-open door to walk, talk, and breath the life of Jesus throughout the day,” says Shipley. “Every aspect of being a teacher allows me to let His life in me address each situation.”
Our pre-1st students learn how to incorporate the values of being Servants, Scholars, and Disciples into their daily lives. One of the favorite parts of the year is when the children become “secret servants,” giving back to the campus community with secret “do good” missions.
This extra year of growth also provides students with a chance to build stamina as they complete classroom assignments, explore literature fully, and take meaningful field trips.
“My absolute favorite thing about my job is that God made me for 6-year-olds!”
“They are an endless source of joy, hilarity, curiosity, and amazement,” adds Shipley. “My favorite memory is, fortunately, one that is often repeated: that time when a child's eyes light up, and they realize that they CAN do something they previously thought they could not! “That sense of accomplishment builds fortitude, instills hope, and creates a grateful heart. How wonderful to spend my days seeing and participating in the growth of one of God's creations!”
Reflecting on my time at CAK, there are some specific things that really set CAK apart and make it very special to me. First, we have excellent teachers who are instilling in our students a heart for service. As you can see in the background of this picture, our teachers are modeling Jesus each and every day in what they communicate in their classrooms- statements like “be a servant” or “stand up for others” are regularly found in the classrooms on our campus. But actions speak louder than words…so they also work diligently to regularly provide opportunities to teach our students to care for and serve others- just like Jesus did. The 5th-grade students pictured below recently made blankets to send to cancer patients at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.
Another valuable part of what makes CAK so very special is the opportunity to partner with families. In some instances, this may look like sitting around a table together to determine the best way to meet the educational needs of a student or a phone call home to share the details of an important conversation that took place at school that day. It might even look like a parent coming in to serve as a prayer parent for their child’s class. Sometimes we have the privilege to partner together during chapel when family members come in to share what God has been doing in and through their lives, as seen in this photo of Rev. Mitch Townley with his granddaughter as they led worship together at chapel this fall.
And perhaps the most meaningful piece of what sets CAK apart is the community we have found here. There are many excellent schools in our area. Other places also excel in athletics, fine arts, and academics. However, there is something unique and special about being part of a community of believers coming together at a school that works to infuse our children with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
CAK isn’t just the place we take our children to school, but it’s the place where we do life.
When all of these pieces come together it creates a pretty special place- a place that we are thrilled to call home!