Welcome to Autumn.

   As we enter October and the leaves turn into a spectacular display of colors.

As we enter October and the leaves turn into a spectacular display of colors.

School’s in full session, Fall Break is peeking around the corner, for some of us as early as Friday as the first bell rings. The Museum will actually remain open through Tuesday next week before closing until the following Monday. I plan to catch up on sleep and watch my corgis run around in the falling leaves. Time seems to stop momentarily today, as if to ask us all what the hurry is about before flowing like an autumnal breeze back into the passage of time.

Change is all around us. Troubles come and go. At the Museum, we continue to update school histories through newspaper articles from the Sentinel, Shoppers, East Knox News, Farragut paper and others. This is our living history. Each relevant article goes into the white notebook that the story effects. Which often means that the same story will end up in multiple school notebooks. Each week, our volunteers clip the articles as we find them and assemble the pages that ware then added to the school notebook and that school’s history is updated.

As Halloween preparations take over the lawns where leaves are being raked up for compost heaps, my imagination and memory turns back to playing in the leaf piles while mothers worry what bugs and debris their children will carry into the house in their hair and clothes. Warm baths and hot soups will follow.

We have had our first Event meeting and will continue to plan. The question is will the Event remain a Sock Hop or become something else? Something more durable and endearing? On the table is the idea of having a Dance with a DJ rather than a live band. We are eager for fresh input, so please come to our next meeting on October 18th at 4:30pm at the Museum. We will provide coffee and some light refreshments. If for some reason, you want to come but that is too early, call us and let us know and we will wait for you.

Until then enjoy the Autumnal calm for the Witching hour will soon arrive.

 Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

Welcome to the School Year 2018-2019

 Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images

As we watch the new school year unfold in the American education system, the thought comes to me about the unique opportunity that the Museum has: we are witness to history in the making. We are, after all, the Museum of Education and the history of is being made all around us. We have taken the responsibility to preserve the collective histories of the many schools of Knox County and Knoxville City systems as well as those of the private ones within the Knox County borders. We preserve the history that has gone before, but more than that, we witness and report the history that is being made now.

As we approach this new year, we are striving to make sure that everyone around us knows, not only that we are here preserving the past but also witnessing the future as it is being told by the students and teachers around us. We invite all of you, students, teachers, administrators, staff, community leaders, community volunteers to take part in our mission to tell the ongoing story of education in this great county!

Come join us at the museum and add your story to our collections. We want to know about your school's past and present. Share your history with us. 

Michael van Vuuren.
Administrative Clerk
Knox County Museum of Education

The Need for Funds

 Photo by Julia_Sudnitskaya/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Julia_Sudnitskaya/iStock / Getty Images

The Museum needs money to stay operational. We have several methods for fundraising. We currently offer a membership called "Friends of the Museum," the base membership being $25 a year and goes up to about $1000. We have a small membership compared to the number of people who visit the museum and use our resources. We offer an "Adopt a Case" option, where a person or group can adopt one of our existing or future display cases in honor of someone they want, $350 per case. This is a one time adoption, though, so it limited in it scope. We also have a "In Memory of/ In Honor of" Remembrance option where a tribute can be made for or of someone by a person or a group and the tribute is entered into a permanent book in the Museum. 

We also hold a yearly "Sock Hop," we just held our fourth one. It's a good social occasion with some further fundraising options like the Silent Auction and Raffle. Normally, it brings in a fair amount of funds but even the Sock Hop is not providing enough income as our needs at the Museum continue to expand and grow.

What we need is for you to help us. Our website takes direct one time or recurring donations. We need volunteers to not just help to run the day to day operations but also to solicit donations and help us to find the means to preserve this effort to preserve our pasts. It is our history of what most of us will look back on as the best years of our lives.


August Newsletter news

Our Format is changing. We are going for a more newspaper/magazine approach in which we hope to engage our readership more. The following changes are being made.

  1. The Director's quiz is taking a hiatus in favor of a School focused history piece
  2. We are adding two school themed articles that are social pieces fueled by our Facebook page discussions
  3. We'll be focusing more on new and/ or interesting items that have come into the museum over the last six months.
  4. We are going to incorporate local business Ads for other organizations that don't usually get covered. Also the initial ones will be free and will be more like mini-stories than Ads.
  5. We are shooting for putting out the Newsletter twice a year with the Summer one being 7 1/2 pages and the Winter edition 9 1/2 page (1/2 page is mailing page).

So Friends of the Museum standby for great things to come.

A New Brochure, An Updated Message

When you visit the Museum, you will journey back in time to your school days. Come explore our collection of yearbooks, find carefully written messages in the covers, notes scrawled on the pages, and photographs of long gone but often remembered classmates. This is time traveling, come see that letter jacket your best friend new, the class ring you gave your first girlfriend, your old band uniform from middle school or your son’s daily primer from Elementary.

Explore our range of artifacts like the Amherst School Bell, Mildred Doyle’s legendary desk, class pictures of your grandparents, portraits of your favorite school teacher, that one coach you wished you had thanked for changing your life. Discover our school histories, our professional profiles, find lost family members, old school buildings, mementos thought lost to the passage of time.

All this, and more can be found here at the museum, after all, it is really your museum as it belongs to all of us. What we have has been given by you, entrusting that it will remain here for others to discover and enjoy as much as you did the first time you visited.


Project GRAD visits the Museum

Recently a group of students from Project GRAD got to lend a much needed hand and discover some history at the same time when they visited the Knox County Museum of Education.

“The kids really enjoyed seeing photos of staff members from their schools
and family members, as did I.”

— Jasmine Siler,

Housing memorabilia and artifacts from the history of Knox County schools, the museum is in the Sarah Simpson Professional Development and Technology Center on Tipton Avenue in South Knoxville. "You know, you go in most museums and they’re quiet," said Benna Van Vuuren, executive director of the museum. "This is the noisiest museum you’ll ever find! The people who come here laugh and talk, and they remember."

That was certainly true of the 17 high school sophomores from Austin-East and Fulton High Schools, who had come to help in the cataloging process. Their work, done at tables in groups of five, was often interrupted by squeals of delight. "This room looks exactly the same!" said Ahya Moreno, spotting a picture in a 1989 Austin-East yearbook. "This student has the name of someone from ‘Riverdale’!" said Sharon Sharp, who is a fan of the Netflix series. "The kids really enjoyed seeing photos of staff members from their schools and family members, as did I," said Project GRAD leader Jasmine Siler, who is an alumnus of the program. She’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling this fall at Lincoln Memorial University.

  Current Austin-East students look at an Austin-East yearbook from 1989. Breanna Morris, Quincy Fields and Ahya Moreno are surprised to see that the school itself hasn’t changed that much, though the faces certainly have.  (source) CAROL Z. SHANE/SHOPPER NEWS

Current Austin-East students look at an Austin-East yearbook from 1989. Breanna Morris, Quincy Fields and Ahya Moreno are surprised to see that the school itself hasn’t changed that much, though the faces certainly have. (source) CAROL Z. SHANE/SHOPPER NEWS

They did plenty of work, too — the kids were instructed to look through newspapers and other sources to identify items from their own scho ols, then secure those items in a notebook. That way, said Van Vuuren, when graduates from specific schools come to visit the museum years from now, they’ll know where to look. "Don’t throw away tomorrow’s history," she said, quoting the museum’s motto. It was the first time she and her staff had invited members from Project GRAD to help out.

The national education program, begun in 1989, is known for improving college attendance rates among students. The organization

focuses on improving student achievement and graduation rates, college and career path readiness and college completion rates, working to ensure academic and professional success.

< p class="abody"> Members of the museum staff were pleased to have help. "And I got them chips and Coke," said Van Vuuren, herself a retired schoolteacher, "because, you know, they like that."

The Knox County Museum of Education is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s at 801 Tipton Ave. More info: 865-579-8264 or visit kcme.website.

  This group from Project GRAD recently helped out at the Knox County Museum of Education. Shown are (rear) museum director Benna Van Vuuren, Tianna Couch-Cox, Keisharra Jones, Gayza Davenport, Jacquise Clegg, Aaliyah Rice, Tirrell Nixon, K’Onie Warren, Breanna Morris, Sharon Sharp and Arianna Smith; (middle) Montasia Queener, Jamija Henry, Nathaniel Moss, Quincy Fields and Adrian Mota; (front) Ahya Moreno and Zane Nelson.  ERVEN WILLIAMS

This group from Project GRAD recently helped out at the Knox County Museum of Education. Shown are (rear) museum director Benna Van Vuuren, Tianna Couch-Cox, Keisharra Jones, Gayza Davenport, Jacquise Clegg, Aaliyah Rice, Tirrell Nixon, K’Onie Warren, Breanna Morris, Sharon Sharp and Arianna Smith; (middle) Montasia Queener, Jamija Henry, Nathaniel Moss, Quincy Fields and Adrian Mota; (front) Ahya Moreno and Zane Nelson. ERVEN WILLIAMS

reprinted from Knoxville Shopper News Article by Carol Z. Shane

Summer Updates

For many of you, things will slow down for Summer.
Here at the Museum, we are just gearing up, we have our annual Sock Hop coming up Friday May 18th. Tickets are $25 with a $5 discount if you are a current Friend of the Museum. Come by and get your picture made, have a hot dog, win the Twist contest, go home with the raffle prize that you could win. Have a great night!

We will be gearing up to host a few reunions for local Alumni. We always enjoy hosting these events and we have plenty of space. Come take a tour of the Museum while you are here.

We will be closed the First Week in July, we're getting our floors stripped and redone. 

We are always in the process of making improvements to the Museum. Come by and volunteer to help us. We really need some energetic folks that could help us update and create new School Displays in the halls of Old South High. We are looking for creative people who love to decorate these cases.

Hope you all have a safe and cool summer. 

Come by and have a cup of Joe (Coffee- Our clerk Joe never thinks that joke is funny) and vist with us!



It's time for our annual Sock Hop Fundraiser.

Knox County Museum of Education to Host Annual Sock Hop on May 18th


The Knox County Museum of Education is hosting Sock Hop 4 on Friday, May 18th from 6p.m. to 10p.m. at the Sarah Simpson Professional Building, 801 Tipton Avenue.    Free Spirit II and DJ “Smoking” Bill Rutherford of Pro- Audio Group will be providing the music. 


Imagine a Sock Hop of the 50’s and 60’s with everyone enjoying being dressed in the clothes of those years, listening to Rock and Roll music with dancing, eating delicious food and, of course, having fun.   The Knox County Museum of Education wants to take you back to the days when Rock and Roll was King, a diner was your favorite hangout, and you kicked off your shoes and danced the night away with your friends.  A silent auction, photo package and museum tour will be available for attendees.  As a non-profit organization the Knox County Museum of Education depends on donations for its operation and the Sock Hop is a major fundraising event. 

Hundreds of displays and yearbooks, photos, documents, scrapbooks, minutes of important meetings and much more are collected, displayed and stored by the museum volunteer staff.  The museum is a place where anyone can travel back in time to see their own or their family’s school days and where serious educational research on events, issues and people can be found.  The museum is celebrating its 12th year this fall.    The admission ticket to the Sock Hop is $25.  Tickets are available at the Knox County Museum of Education, Knoxville Teachers Federal Credit Union, Knox County Teachers Credit Union Locations or online at www.kcme.website/sock-hop-tickets  and at the door.   Additional information needed is available at the museum, 865-579-8264 ext. 5, Director, Benna van Vuuren


Adopt-A-Case Donors

Adoptee:                                Honoree:

Knoxville High School
Alumni Association                          Knoxville High School Alumni Association 2016

Jerry Askew                                       In Honor of Jerry Askew 2016

Horace Grissom (2)                         In Memory of La Vada Grissom 2016
Beecher Clapp                                 In Honor of Beecher Clapp and Fretta M. Bunch 2016

Gayle Burnett                                  In Memory of Connie (Phifer) and Inslee Burnett
                                                          by Gayle Burnett 2016

Dessa E. Blair                                  In Honor of Dessa E. Blair 2016

David Huntsinger                           In Honor of Judy Huntsinger 2016

Fulton High School
Alumni Association                         Fulton High School Alumni Association 2016

Harvey Sproul                                 In Honor of Harvey and Sylvia Sproul 2016

Knox County Retired
Teachers Association                     Knox County Retired Teachers Association 2017

Jack Williams                                 In Honor of Floyd "Junior" Sharp Rule High School                                                                         Killed in Okinawa June 17, 1945
South High School
Class of 1966                                 In Honor of South High School Class of 1966

Patricia Hunter                             In Memory of Reuben Hunter 2017

La Noka Rhodes                           In Memory of Dr. Donald Rhodes 2016

Harold Mays                                 In Honor of the South High School Faculty

South High School
Alumni Chorus                            In Honor of Harold Mays 2017

Gene Akers                                   In Honor of Our Parents Anne and Franklin Akers

The Hoffmeister Family              In Memory of Earl Hoffmeister 2017    

Beecher Clapp                              In Memory of Mildred Doyle 2017


2107 East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair

The Knox County Museum of Education participated in the 2017 East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair that was held on the Market Square and adjacent streets in downtown Knoxville on Saturday August 19 from 10 am until 5 pm.  The booth was manned by museum volunteers Gayle Burnett, Dick McPherson and museum assistant Joe Sebring all being available to answer questions and provide information about schools in Knox County and the purpose and history of the Knox County Museum of Education.   We had displays of school letter sweaters and jackets, sports trophies and pictures of early school buildings and children in classroom settings with their teachers.  We also brought along several books on Knoxville’s early history that we have available to purchase at the Museum bookstore.  This outreach to the community is a wonderful opportunity for the KCME to make our presence known and hopefully recruit worker volunteers and we look forward to attending again next year.

KCME Unique and Largest Donation: The Ron Allen Donation

   The Museum received its first donation the first week it was open in 2005.   Ron Allen brought labeled, ready to display historical documents, including a yearbook from Baker Himel, dated 1897-1898, Mynders School Certificate ofHonor    11/17/1879, Karns yearbook 1915, Sequoyah yearbook 1927 (Central High), Kalendar yearbook 1916 (Park City High School), 26 items in all.           Ron’s daughter, Jennifer has donated multiple copies of books written by Ron including Knoxstalgia, which includes 300+ short histories of schools prior to 1950, theaters, churches, hotels and other buildings.    Additional books include Theaters In Knoxville, Gay Street, The Street Has Changed, Same Old Smokies, Fairs and Circuses, Nose Guards and Wild Cards, Cas Walker to Downtown Hawkers, and 11 more!    Jennifer also donated his files and equipment.           One of the largest donations consists of Ron Allen’s private record collection of 78 vinyl records – over 200 albums of individual records.    The albums range from Caruso to Voices of D-Day to Dinah Shore to Frank Sinatra.  

The collection includes a description index!


GAY STREET: A History of Gay Street  

What can be found at the museum?

Collections include over 100 school histories, over 200 biographical sketches and photographs of administrators, personnel lists of Knox County and Knoxville City Schools (many dating back to the 1800's ), old textbooks, yearbooks, school newspapers and memorabilia ( sweaters, class rings, trophies, etc.) as well as other collections

 Knox County School Stats -1946

    Only 32 teachers had Masters Degrees; 179 teachers had Bachelor's leaving 353 teachers with less than 4 years college and no professional licenses.

There were 8 one teacher schools, 13 two teacher schools; 37 of the other schools had less than 8 teachers apiece; Only 6 elementary schools had supervising principals; only one of the had a school clerk.

    50 schools had no indoor toilet facilities or running water; 33 of them were still heated by pot-bellied stoves. One school has no electricity. Only 54 schools had telephones.

    Central Office was located in the basement of the Old Court House and consisted of the Superintendent, 2 supervisors (Mack Davis and Gussie Hoffman), 1 secretary/receptionist and 1 bookkeeper. The Maintenance department had 3 employees and 1 truck.

If you had taught in Knox County prior to 1960 in most schools, you would have had furnished by the county: blackboards, white chalk, a green cardboard set of the alphabet, desks, chairs, a waste paper basket, a manual pencil sharpener, and a set of textbooks. you would have access to a record player, a 16 mm film projector and maybe a piano. An American flag and a framed picture of George Washington too.

    What you would have found missing/without: air-conditioning, intercom, adding machines, calculators, photo copiers, encyclopedias, physical education equipment, physical education teachers, special area teachers, clinic, library, teacher manuals, curriculum guides, typewriters, filing cabinets, offices, security guards, coke machines, snack machines- federal aid to education hadn't happened yet. Anything above these items came out of your $2400 a year salary or through fundraising or from the P.T.A. organizations.

    Notes/ notices sent home were all handwritten reports in triplicate requiring the use of carbon paper. Attendance was kept by individual teachers in a register. There was no standard accounting or school bank accounts.

Available at the museum- History, minutes, clippings of the Knox County Retired Teachers Association.

    The Knoxville- Knox County Retired Teachers Association was organized April 8, 1954. Dr. John H. Thackston was its first president; Wilson New was its first Vice President with Lida Bell Gambill as Recording Secretary. Other officers included Mrs. Ruth Roe as Corresponding Secretary, W. W. Morris as Treasurer and Miss Delia Harris as Parliamentarian. The first regular meeting place was the S&W Cafeteria on Gay Street.