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East Tennessee school documents what it's like to teach during a pandemic

Educators at South Knoxville Elementary helped document a fall semester like no other

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In a fall semester that looks like no other before it, a group of educators at a small elementary school in Knoxville are helping document what it is like to teach during a pandemic.

"It's one of the sweetest schools I’ve had the opportunity to work for.  Hard-working staff hard-working community" said Dr. Tanna Nicely who is the principal of South Knoxville Elementary school and marking her 30th year as an educator.

Her school has served the community since 1955.  

At the start of the fall semester in 2020, the population included 175 students and 40 staff members.  

In this unusual year, almost 55 students opted to start classes all-online.  

It is a small school focused on creating big opportunities.  

A few years ago, 10News followed a group of students on a special trip to The White House and today the school grounds include a burgeoning garden near the newly updated playground.  

Close to 30% of the community school is racially diverse.

South Knoxville Elementary sits at the core of urban revitalization on that side of the river in Knoxville.  

It is a neighborhood of contrasts.  

Luxury river-view apartments sit within walking distance of a school where many of the students can see Neyland Stadium from the car drop-off line but their families cannot afford season tickets to Tennessee football.

A handful of educators at the school, from a first-year teacher to instructors with decades of experience, agreed to help 10News document their unusual year.  

In this link, you can watch the "first-cut" of a documentary focused on the successes and challenges in-and-out of the classroom during the fall of 2020.