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One year. One elementary school. One historic pandemic.

A 10News documentary highlights the challenges and successes of South Knoxville Elementary throughout the tumultuous 2020-2021 school year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — It was a school year that looked like none other before it.

A small elementary school in Knoxville allowed 10News to 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, the principal of South Knoxville Elementary school marking her 30th year as an educator.

The K-5 elementary started the 2020 school year with 175 students and 40 staff members.

Credit: Dr. Tanna Nicely
South Knoxville Elementary Staff

South Knoxville Elementary has served the community since 1955. Upwards of 30% of that community school is racially diverse. 

The neighborhood is a study in contrasts. It sits at the core of urban revitalization on that side of the river in Knoxville. 

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 games.

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. By Spring, that number of virtual students dwindled to about 10 percent of the school.

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

You can watch our full-length documentary below or on our YouTube channel.


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