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Looking for a Place with Great Schools in East Tennessee?

Consider Blount County, which offers families an impressive roster of high-quality schools.

By Teree Caruthers on September 22, 2021

students raising their hands

One of the many advantages Blount County offers relocating families and businesses is an impressive roster of high-quality public school systems.

Together, the county’s public schools, which include Blount County Schools, Maryville City Schools and Alcoa City Schools, serve more than 18,000 students and boast some of the highest graduation rates and ACT and SAT scores in the Southeast. The school systems also set a high bar for diverse student services and curricula that prepare students for college and in-demand careers.

“I had full faith that the quality of teachers, the creativity and rigor of the curriculum would be the best choice for our family.”

Joy Forster Carver/Parent

“I grew up in Blount County and am a product of these local schools,” says Joy Forster Carver, a parent with children in both the Blount County and Maryville City school systems. “After moving and living out of state for college and the start of my career, it became clear that the strong foundation for my successes stemmed directly from the uniquely strong local public schools that I was able to attend.”

When it came time to consider where to raise her family, a move back to Blount County was a clear next step, she says. “I had full faith that the quality of teachers, the creativity and rigor of the curriculum would be the best choice for our family,” Forster Carver says. “I stand in awe every single day of how true that proves to be over and over again.”

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Parent-Teacher Partnerships Shine in Alcoa, TN

Gabriella Watts, a parent of four children in Alcoa City Schools, says what she finds most appealing about the school system is the parental involvement. Watts, herself, is a member of the Alcoa Elementary PTO, Alcoa Intermediate PTO and the Alcoa Middle PTA.

She says the willingness of parents stems from the care they see demonstrated by school faculty and staff.

“Being around all the staff so frequently, it is evident that they truly care about the kids and the community. This has been the same experience across the board at all Alcoa City Schools,” Watts says. “It is not abnormal to see a teacher spending their free time attending sporting events or recitals to show their students support.”

Watts says a selling point for Alcoa City Schools is the diversity of learning opportunities. The district offers before- and after-school tutoring options, summer learning programs and several clubs committed to different areas of learning, Watts says. Specialized classes, such as music appreciation, engineering, nursing education and even Russian, allow students to really find who they are.

“Families in this community have peace of mind knowing that these different options exist to help their children learn,” Watts says.

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Ready for Work in Blount County

Another major advantage for Blount County’s students is the partnership between the business community and the school systems, which helps introduce students to local career paths. Students at Coulter Grove Intermediate School in the Maryville district, for example, are learning crucial math, communication, team-building and customer service skills working at the CBBC Bank branch located in the school.

High schools partner with the Blount Partnership and local companies, such as Danny Davis Electrical Contractors Inc. and DENSO Manufacturing, to provide hands-on career and technical education and, eventually, jobs in fields, such as welding, advanced manufacturing and coding.

“For quite some time, high school students were under the impression that the only way to reach their full potential was to go to a four-year university,” says Lisa Collins, Blount County Schools career and technical education assistant principal. “But what we know now is that career and technical education is in high demand and is leading to employment and careers that allow our students to reach their fullest potential.”

A STEM-ulating Education All Around

Like the public school systems, the county’s charter and private schools also place an emphasis on readying students for in-demand careers.

For example, Clayton-Bradley Academy, a year-round independent pre-K-12 school in Maryville, works to give students experience in STEM.

“Education is the investment for future growth in a community. Clayton-Bradley not only brings a unique approach to education within our community, but also brings a passion to develop independent thinkers,” says Brad Rasmussen, Upper School principal for Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy.

“If we can teach students to be independent thinkers to critically think, to collaborate with their peers and to be actively engaged in problem solving, then they can apply those skills to any field.”

Forster Carver says having choices between public, charter and private schools benefits students. “Diverse options and competition between our local public and private schools have always been to the benefit of students in Blount County,” she says. “Various class sizes, various course offerings — this is a town that loves learning and takes pride in our schools, whichever one a family chooses.”

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