Hundreds of parents, teachers, and even students, took a seat in the Hardin Valley Academy auditorium Tuesday night.
In his 3rd annual State of the Schools address, Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre talked about goals, gains, and everything in between.
"It's terrific to see so many of you here who are dedicated to ensuring that every child in the Knox County Schools receives a great education," McIntyre said to the crowd.
His speech took an unusually personal tone, starting with a story about immigrant grandmother. Using her story of struggle and success, McIntyre compared her transition to the one Tennessee public schools are currently experiencing.
"Change, especially radical change, can be incredibly difficult," he said. "But it can be rewarding, beneficial, and truly transformational."
McIntyre praised teachers for their work in the classroom, and recognized two educators awarded at the state and national level: Farragut High School's Wanda Lacy and Rocky Hill Elementary' s Amber Hoge.
The superintendent also recognized success in the classroom, pointing to several gains in TCAP scores and proficiency levels. Following that, he named areas he wants to see improved. For example, he said the 88 percent graduation rate and the average ACT score of 20.2 could both be higher – along with 3rd grade reading proficiency.
"We really have to accelerate our strong, academic progress. And we must also ensure that our academic gains are universal, that our academic success is shared by every single student," he said.
Finally, McIntyre listed goals for the future – in a strategic plan called "Knox Schools 20/20."
The list included more focus on the individual student and better support and compensation for teachers.
Board of education members, county commissioners, even county Mayor Tim Burchett attended the event. They are preparing to dive into the upcoming school budget.
"It's going to be a lean year," said Burchett. "I don't foresee any tax increase -- I'll tell you that -- but Dr. McIntyre is ambitious and the Board [of Education] is good to work with and I think we're going to have an encouraging budget."
Kim Frazier has children in this school district, and attended Tuesday night's speech. She said she appreciates the district's honesty about areas needing improvement.
"I think they've identified some problems, and I have full faith that they will concentrate on those areas that need improvement and they will bring those scores up," she said.