How Moving to CAK Helped Our Son Thrive
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. "