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