Emerald Academy, Knoxville’s first and only public charter school, has been named “Charter School of the Year” by the Tennessee Charter School Center at the 2021 Charter Champion Awards which took place on Monday, November 15.


The School of the Year award is given to an exemplary performing school whose creativity and out-of-the-box efforts have not only made an impact on the education of its students but also have the potential to change the landscape of public education as a whole.


“We are incredibly impressed by the strong academic growth and excellent student success taking place at Emerald Academy,” said Tennessee Charter School Center CEO Maya Bugg. “Each year, we aim to draw attention to and celebrate the public charter schools that are truly exceeding expectations for children, parents and the community. As Knoxville’s first charter school, Emerald Academy is breaking new ground and raising the bar on public education in East Tennessee.”


Across the state, charter schools serve more than 44,000 students in four cities: Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville.


Founded in 2014 by Emerald Youth Foundation, Emerald Academy is a free, independently operated, K-8 college preparatory school launched by Emerald Charter Schools. Located in the historic Moses School Building at 220 Carrick Street in Old Mechanicsville, Emerald Academy’s mission is to prepare urban scholars for the college of their choice and community leadership.


Emerald Academy recently celebrated the release of new statewide testing data that confirmed the public charter school is changing the trajectory of learning outcomes for urban youth and supporting dramatic academic gains among students.


According to the testing results released in September, Emerald Academy earned the highest possible level of growth in literacy, in numeracy and in the composite score of all tested areas. This resulted in scoring a Level 5 – the highest Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System score – across every single category during the 2020-2021 school year.


“We were very pleased with our recent top growth scores on statewide testing, and this award is a tremendous encouragement and confirmation to us that Emerald Academy is on the right course,” said Steve Diggs, president of Emerald Charter Schools. “While we still want to see even higher outcomes in academic achievement, high growth is an important first step to reaching those goals, and it is incredibly affirming to have an independent statewide group acknowledge the exemplary work of our team in this way.”


“At Emerald Academy, we work to intentionally build collaborative relationships among scholars, parents, faculty, and school leadership, including the board,” said Carlissa Martin, interim school director of Emerald Academy. “This award is a testament to what can happen when we all work together on behalf of scholars.”


Rachel DeLauder, parent of two Emerald Academy scholars, said, “These results are exactly why we chose Emerald Academy for our sons. We knew the school was committed to high standards, and they are delivering on that commitment to our family and hundreds of others. The school has been a game changer for us, and I hope more families will continue to exercise choice and choose this option for their children.”


DeLauder continued, “One of my scholars has had an individualized education plan since kindergarten, and the special education team has worked diligently each year to make sure he has a plan to help him grow and be successful. This is just one example of Emerald Academy’s commitment to ensuring that every scholar is working to achieve at high levels.”


Any Knox County resident with a rising kindergarten through eighth grade student is eligible to apply to Emerald Academy, a tuition-free, public, college preparatory school. There are no additional criteria for admittance, and if interest outnumbers available seats, a blind lottery is conducted to determine admission. Applications are being accepted immediately for the current school year.


For more information about the application process, visit the school’s website at emeraldacademy.org or call Emerald Academy at 865-249-7223 weekdays between 7:45 a.m. and 4 p.m. Translation services are available.