PAC Newsletter

Volume 3 Edition 1

Parent Advisory Council

To support students with special needs and their families to successfully navigate the support services offered by Knox County Schools and the surrounding community.

Getting Ready for Change: How to Support Your Child

Change is difficult for all of us. As our children grow and develop, it is natural to wonder what level of support is needed for them to grow and develop independence. Here are some tips for parents/ guardians on how to support a smooth transition into the school year.

Starting Elementary School:

Be Enthusiastic- Talk about all the new and exciting things that will be happening at school. (Ask the teacher what they will be doing about a week ahead of time so, you can discuss it with your child)

Visit the school- Take opportunities to tour the building and meet teachers and other school staff such as the nurse and security officers.

Talk about expectations: Visit the school website and know about the school’s goals. Share some of your hopes and any concerns you have for your child with the teacher.

Preparing for Middle School:

Teach self- advocacy skills - This is one of the most important life long skills that will develop in the next few years. Being able to communicate needs and preferences is critical and will only be practiced if you intentionally support them but allow them to speak for themselves.

Encourage your child to take positive risks: Joining a new club, trying a new sport, or volunteering in the community are all good ways to encourage trying new things. Always make sure to praise the child and acknowledge the courage that it takes to try something new.

Keep communicating: If you allow your child to have social media accounts use the apps as an opportunity to engage. Send funny quotes, ask about the people that they are following and "like" pictures or videos. Also find some low tech ways to interact such as movie nights, board games, take walks, or other one-on-one activities you enjoy.

Moving on to High School:

Be involved: Encourage your teen to do extracurricular activities at school or in the community. Programs such as art clubs, sports, or youth oriented groups develop teamwork, a sense of place and eventually confidence.

Help teach balance: Help students to learn to plan ahead. If there is a game Friday Night that they want to attend, they have to carve out time during the week to work on the project that is due Monday morning. (Such as planning to work on the project for 30 minutes a day Monday – Thursday.)

Be Aware: Although many students show feelings of uneasiness or distress, but if any problems last longer than a few weeks, it is time to seek help. (Concerns include: drastic mood swings, acting uncharacteristically, trouble sleeping or changes in appetite)

Transition from School to Work: SEEK Program (Successful Employment Empowerment Kickoff)

Bridge Thompson, graduated last May from L&N STEM, and started working in the SEEK program this summer and and is continuing to benifit from participating after his high school graduation. When his mother was asked, "How has the Transition School to Work grant team assisted you with their transition goals this summer?", she had the following response.

Transitions of any kind are difficult for my son Bridge, but the transition from high school to college has been particularly challenging for our family as well as for my son. As we ask ourselves, What's next in this new season of life?. The "Transition to Work" team has helped Bridge set goals, understand various levels of employment opportunities, apply for jobs, and has prepared him for job interviews. After the SEEK program ended earlier this summer, Bridge continued to meet with a representative of the program for direction and support. This has helped Bridge tremendously and has provided him with the tools he needs to be successful in life after high school. We can't thank Mike and the team enough for all they have done.

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Knoxville: Most Disability Friendly City?

Help Us Make Sure It Is By Taking Our Survey

What a child experiences growing up helps to shape them, and often influences their lives as adults. There are numerous elements that contribute to this experience such as housing, healthcare, education, social participation, inclusion, and the outside spaces they play in. All of these domains of livability are extremely important to the well-being of everyone, and that’s why the Mayor’s Council on Disability Issues (CODI) is conducting a survey- to make sure we’re doing the best we can to make Knoxville the most disability friendly city. Whether you have a disability, know someone with a disability, or simply have ideas on how to make Knoxville more inclusive, we’d love to hear your voice!

Who we are: CODI was founded in 1984 and currently has 21 appointed members, with at least 50% of members having a disability. They meet each

month to discuss and provide information to the City on current events or concerns within the disability community.

Why this is important: As Stephanie Brewer Cook, the ADA Coordinator for the City of Knoxville says, “A city that is welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities is a city that all people can live comfortably in, because when we create space that truly works for people with disabilities, it works for people of all ages.”

How this information will be used: All data will be combined to look for which topics are most important to the community, and response trends. This will be compared with two studies that occur every five years – The Office on Aging “Senior Needs Assessment”, and the Health Departments “Community Health Survey.” Statistics and comparisons will be reported to the City of Knoxville to assist efforts in improving livability for Knoxville’s entire community.

What you can do to help: You can help by participating in this survey (complete it based on what you feel would make Knoxville the most disability friendly), and by getting the word out to your family and friends. The more responses we have, the better we can address the needs of our community. The survey can be taken at

Are there any incentives to do this: AARP has generously provided several $100 Visa gift-cards to be drawn and given to participants as a "Thank You.” You are not required to provide any identifying information, but if you would like to be eligible to win a gift-card, you may provide your contact information at the

end of the survey. Completed surveys should be submitted no later than September 4, 2018

Can I attend a CODI meeting: Yes! Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 4:00 p.m. in the City County Building’s Small Assembly Room, all meetings are open and the public is encouraged to attend. There’s a public forum at the end of each meeting, and we love participation from our community.

Who to contact in case of questions: If you have any questions, please contact Misha Byrne at the City of Knoxville Disability Services department. (865) 215-2423,

Additional Links: Learn more about CODI by visiting and by following our Facebook page at

Teens and Anxiety: What You Need to Know

Teens and Anxiety: What You Need to Know

Community Trainings and Events

Our Place Art Cooking Club for Youth with Autism & Other Disabilities

Saturday, Sep. 29th, 10am-12pm

6730 Papermill Drive Northwest

Knoxville, TN

Join Our Place Art at Whole Foods Market located at 6730 PaperMill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 for an inclusive cooking club open to youth with disabilities (all abilities are welcome). Participants will have the opportunity to learn about nutrition and healthy eating, while making yummy treats! This is a free event!

Age requirement: Ages 8 and up. Please note participants will be separated by age group.

Click Here: Information/ Registration (Cooking Club)

Our Place Art Organization Incorporated

KAEC Disability Employment Resource Fair

Wednesday, Oct. 10th, 10am-12pm

2700 Middlebrook Pike

Knoxville, TN

In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium is hosting a resource fair! Come speak with local agencies about resources to help people with disabilities seek gainful community employment.

Be A Friend Festival (BFF)

Tuesday, Aug. 28th, 11:30am-3pm

620 Winona Street

Knoxville, TN

Come make new friends and celebrate all people at the annual Be a Friend Festival (BFF) where you will fly high in a bounce house, learn to break apart boards with your bare hands, play ball blindfolded, and other fun games, activities, and entertainment.
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Trainings and Events

Next Steps Night Employment Services by the Transition School to work Grant Team

Thursday, Oct. 25th, 5-7pm

11445 Hardin Valley Road

Knoxville, TN

Learn more about resources available for assisting transitioning students with finding community employment.

Join us for an informational fair to learn more about employment services programs available to your student after graduation. Representatives will be ready to answer questions about their agencies.

Click Here For More Information and to Register

Hosted by the Transition School to Work Grant Team

Next Steps Night: Making Work Work!

Wednesday, Aug. 22nd, 5-6:30pm

801 Tipton Avenue

Knoxville, TN

Learn how going to work may or may not affect Social Security benefits.

Lorena Kay Watson, Benefit Analyst: Kay has been working with people with disabilities for over 10 years. During this time, she has helped individuals with developing soft skills i.e. filling out applications, identifying references and job interviewing skills as they prepared to enter the work force.

Click Here for More Information and Registration

Hosted by the Transition School to Work Grant Team

Next Steps Night Benefits and Financial Planning

Thursday, Nov. 15th, 5-6:30pm

801 Tipton Avenue

Knoxville, TN

Join us to learn about ABLE 529 accounts and other ways to plan for your child's financial future.

We will explore the aspects of the 529 Able Savings plan--an exciting opportunity to help individuals with disabilities put aside money for qualified expenses. We will also briefly look into how this complements a Special Needs Trust and specific provisions that should be followed. Brief comments on basic estate planning techniques will also follow.

Click Here for More Information and Registration

Hosted by the Transition School to Work Grant Team

Next Steps Night- Planning for a Loved One with Special Needs

Wednesday, Aug. 22nd, 5-6:30pm

801 Tipton Avenue

Knoxville, TN

Come learn about resources available to help plan for your child.

Planning for the future of your child after high school can seem like a daunting task. It doesn't have to be, but you DO need a plan. We will help you get started with a few simple (free) steps. Our session will cover Special Needs Trusts, Wills, ABLE Accounts, and Conservatorships.

Click Here For More Information and Registration

Hosted by the Transition School to Work Grant Team

Parents Needed to Serve on the Parent Advisory Council (PAC)


  • Have a child receiving special education services in Knox County Schools
  • Willing to attend monthly meetings to discuss concerns expressed by families in the district you represent
  • Interest in expanding communication, understanding, self advocacy, and inclusive practices

We need representatives in the following School Districts:

District 7

Adrian Burnett Elementary

Brickey-McCloud Elementary

Copper Ridge Elementary

Halls Elementary

Halls High

Halls Middle

North Knox Vocational Center

Powell Elementary

Powell High

Powell Middle

District 8

Career Magnet Academy

Carter Elementary

Carter High

Carter Middle

Corryton Elementary

East Knox County Elementary

Gibbs Elementary

Gibbs High

Ritta Elementary

Sunnyview Primary

District 9

Bonny Kate Elementary

Dogwood Elementary

Gap Creek Elementary

Mooreland Heights Elementary

Mount Olive Elementary

New Hopewell Elementary

South-Doyle High

South-Doyle Middle

South Knoxville Elementary

Click Here To Visit the PAC Web Page

Parent Advisory Council for Knox County Schools