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How Moving to CAK Helped Our Son Thrive

March 03, 2020
By CAK Communications

Christian Academy of Knoxville is a special place. Just ask the Pedersen family who moved here from out of state last year and have found that becoming a CAK Warrior has truly helped their son, Connor, thrive. 

When you moved to Tennessee, did you tour multiple schools? Or was CAK your decision from the start? 

When we made the decision to move to Tennessee last year we did a lot of research on the private schools in the area and toured several schools that were recommended to us. 

"Middle school is a scary time of transition for any child, especially one who has always attended school in a much smaller setting."

Why did you ultimately choose CAK?

While all the other private schools had their pros and cons we ultimately decided to choose CAK after our tour and meeting with the Middle School Principal (and current Head of School) Mr. Rich Fulford. The respect the middle school students had for their principal and how he knew most, if not all, by name, along with his calming but fun demeanor were things that resonated long after our tour.

Middle school is a scary time of transition for any child, especially one who has always attended school in a much smaller setting. Mr. Fulford provided a calming but reassuring presence during a time of uncertainty for us. He wasn't just a principal, he was also a parent and really understood the current academic struggles that we had faced prior to our move. 

"We were told it would be in our best interest to hold our child back to the 5th-grade for the upcoming school year."

Tell me a little about his past school experience (before CAK)?

Connor has always attended a classical school, and in a much smaller setting, so I was nervous looking into a much larger school. However, one of the draws to a school such as CAK is the ability to offer additional support and programming which our prior schools lacked.

Connor is a very bright kid and has never been seen as a student who "fits inside the box." He was always excited to go to school, learn, engage with other students, and eager to answer questions and participate in class. He is the type of kid who has never met a stranger.

However, all of that changed during his fifth-grade year when he began to struggle in school, and his love for school and learning started to turn into apprehension with constant emails saying that he was behind all of his peers in his class. He started to withdraw from wanting to go to school and wishing for the school year to be over. After many meetings with his teacher and principal, and requests that we pursue expensive and additional programming for our child in order for him to be successful, we were told it would be in our best interest to hold our child back to the 5th-grade for the upcoming school year. 

During our move over the summer to Tennessee we were prepared to do just that - hold Connor back. However, after careful review of all of Connor's testing and prior school academic performance, it was Mr. Fulford who told us that he didn't believe that Connor should be held back. In fact, he just needed the right tools and the right environment, and he would be just fine. As a mom, I was hesitant - a new environment; more technology; changing classes all day long - How would he ever be able to keep up? 

"The technology has been a blessing as a learning modality for Connor, and he is thriving academically thanks to the wonderful 6th-grade team of teachers."

Has CAK lived up to your expectations? Was there anything that pleasantly surprised you?  

I am happy to report that not only has CAK lived up to my expectations, but it has also surpassed them. The technology has been a blessing as a learning modality for Connor, and he is thriving academically thanks to the wonderful 6th-grade team of teachers. He never wants to miss a day of school. From a Christ-centered focus, to teachers and staff who truly love Christ and what they do, entrusting both of our children, but especially our middle schooler to CAK was one of the best outcomes of our move. 

How has CAK helped Connor thrive?

During his 6th-grade year, Connor had the ability to join the Middle School LEGO Robotic Team. Connor has always had an engineer's brain, but has never been given the opportunity to put his skills into practice. This fall/winter he was able to work alongside his friends as part of a team and compete against other teams in the region and then to help represent CAK in the East Tennessee State Championship a few weeks ago. What I have always wanted for my son after such a difficult 5th-grade year is to build his confidence to be the leader I know he can be. During the LEGO event, I was able to watch Connor present to the judges with such confidence and such passion and his teammates and coaches spoke of him as a leader. It made me realize yet again that God has Connor right where he wants him, at CAK.  

What advice would you give other out-of-state families who are considering CAK?

Choosing a school for your child while out of state can feel overwhelming. It is hard to compare schools on paper, so I would encourage them to make sure and schedule a tour while school is in session and see the school in person. Ask all the questions you can think of - the faculty and staff are truly more than happy to answer all that you have. 

For Connor: What do you like best about CAK? 

"My favorite thing about CAK are the teachers because they push you in a good way. They make learning fun, and everyone is happy to be there. I like that we have iPads for our school work because I am able to keep all of my work in one place which helps me stay organized. My favorite classes are Science and History because both Ms. Welshan and Ms. Davenport make learning fun and interesting. I also look forward to Chapel every week as well. "

If you are curious to learn more about CAK, give our admissions team a call at (865) 813-4CAK  or email us at  

Posted in CAK Stories

CAK is one of the best decisions we've ever made

February 21, 2020
By CAK Communications
Hayes family sitting outdoors

We sat down with Pastor Jason Hayes from Shoreline Church to find out why he chose Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) for his son, Hayden. Jason went to public school himself and admits he never considered private education. But for his son, Hayden, it was important for Jason and his wife, Carrie, to consider all options as each of their three children are uniquely and wonderfully made. Read their full story, in their own words, below. 

Why did you make the switch to CAK from public school?
We are actually big supporters of our local public schools. We are fans of many amazing families, teachers, and faculties that fill them. In fact, I (Jason) went to Farragut from elementary through graduation. My mother also taught at Farragut Primary for many years. Thus, we never even considered a private school. ⁣But, as we headed towards Middle School for Hayden, we began to wonder if something different might be best for him.

Was there anything specific about CAK that influenced your decision to come here?
Although many people may not identify with it, Hayden has Tourette Syndrome. And while he doesn’t bring attention to it, he has to battle each and every day to function just like every other teenager. Diet, supplements, skeletal adjustments, and functional neurology are all common aspects of his life. Hayden also excels academically (despite his parents). In light of both these realities, we decided to explore what an experience that featured smaller class sizes and a bit more specialized education would look like. 

"It’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made."

What grade was Hayden in when you decided to make the switch? And did his grade level factor into your decision at all? 
He began in 6th grade. It just felt like the beginning of Middle School was a natural opportunity to start in a new environment. We weren’t (and still aren’t) making a decision for all of our kids. Nor were we making a decision for Hayden’s entire future. That was paralyzing. Instead, we’ve been making a decision for one kid for one year at a time. With that said, it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Tell me a little about his past school experience (before CAK)?
As I mentioned earlier, it was positive. As a pastor in our community, we’ve worked hard as a church and as a family to build a lot of meaningful relationships in our local schools. As a result, I think Hayden always felt connected, loved, and supported by his teachers and faculty. 

Has CAK lived up to your expectations? Was there anything that pleasantly surprised you?  
Yes. What’s been most notable to us is the obvious effort to develop and grow students into balanced, well-rounded individuals who can thrive during these formative school years and then into the rest of their lives. The clear focus by teachers to prioritize the spiritual formation of each student has also really stood out to us. 

How has CAK helped Hayden thrive?
Hayden has absolutely flourished academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually. CAK isn’t solely responsible for that. But, it’s been a big part of it. And for that, we’re super grateful!⁣

What advice would you give families who are considering CAK? 
If you are possibly in a situation where you think another option might be worth considering, do it. There’s nothing to lose! Also, maybe you were like us and never thought you could afford it. Certainly, there is a very gracious discount for children of pastors, but we’ve since learned about the thousands upon thousands of dollars that CAK gives away in general assistance to other families all across our community, too. ⁣

Are you involved in the CAK community as parents? In what way? 
Yes. I am an Assistant Coach for the Middle School baseball program. Carrie has played in the annual tennis tournament. Carrie and I have contributed to the Warrior Fund and the Warrior Athletic Club. I also served as one of the parent representatives in the search process for our future Middle School principal. And, finally, I was honored to officiate the funeral of Dr. Perryman and then to share with the faculty the following morning. 

For Hayden: What do you like best about CAK? 
“I like the wide range of extracurricular opportunities. I participate in baseball and tennis, which are just a few of many options. I also enjoy the academic approach in how I am taught and what I have been able to learn. Lastly, I enjoy the many families and friends at CAK and how everyone feels welcome.” 

If you are interested in learning more about CAK, we'd love to have you schedule a school tour. Contact our admissions team at 

Posted in CAK Stories
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CAK: A Middle School Parent's Answered Prayer

April 09, 2019
By Jennifer Romines, CAK Parent
Three boys in CAK shirts on a field trip, smiling

Before coming to CAK, school was horrible for my son. His 5th-grade year was especially bad. He had so many days that he was down on himself due to the environment. None of his problems were with other students or peers, but he had a very difficult year.

Change is hard, but as his mother, I knew he needed to make a change. Yet, he was not open to the idea. So, I turned to prayer. I prayed so hard for God to help him, and us, be okay with switching schools. We wanted God to open our son's heart so that he would be okay with being the new kid at a private Christian school, which was a very big change from his former public school.

I knew that the beginning of middle school would be an excellent time to switch, yet God had other plans. During the middle of my son's 5th-grade year, my son told us he wanted to make the change!

Fast forward to this year - he is in 6th grade at CAK and he is loving every minute of it! The shy kid we knew from before has completely stepped out of his comfort zone. On his most recent field trip to Nashville, he volunteered to go up in front of his teachers and peers to do a science experiment! On the way home, he happily sang a song in front of his entire class! I watched proudly as the class played a game of trivia, and my sweet boy jumped up first to try and answer the questions, every time! This is beyond amazing to me! My shy child, who previously wouldn’t even answer a question, is now first in line.

Thank you to ALL of the teachers at Christian Academy of Knoxville for pouring your love and attention into my child! God is good!

Would you like to know more about CAK? Reach out to our admissions team at or explore our website


Posted in CAK Stories

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