Chattanooga Preparatory will open a new school in Knoxville

Chattanooga Preparatory School, a public charter school that serves minority and disadvantaged boys in Hamilton County, plans to open a partner facility in Knoxville, dubbed Knoxville Preparatory School, in 2024.

“We were getting messages through our social media, calls from parents. One question that kept coming up was, ‘Do you all have a bus that goes from Knoxville to Chattanooga every day?'” said the general manager of Chattanooga Prep , Brad Scott.

Founded in 2018 by Ted and Kelly Alling, Chattanooga Prep serves 280 boys in grades six through nine. According to data collected by the school, about 94.5 percent of enrolled students are black or Latino, while 80 percent are from low-income families.

The couple opened Chattanooga Prep to create more educational equity in Hamilton County.

“Every student should have a great educational opportunity, and unfortunately in Chattanooga, you are defined by your zip code when it comes to your education. And that’s something I just don’t agree with.” , said Kelly Alling in a telephone. call.

Knoxville parents wanted the same opportunities for their children, Scott said.

“The data review in both Knoxville and Chattanooga is very similar. Boys are underachieving in schools and in community social areas,” Scott said. “We have a lack of opportunities in both Knoxville and Chattanooga. And these results are affecting the opportunities.”

A 2018 study on social mobility and race by Harvard economist Raj Chetty found that race and neighborhood influence a child’s upward mobility and economic status in adulthood.

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Chattanooga Preparatory

Researchers found that regardless of a child’s socioeconomic status, those who live in neighborhoods with higher incomes, lower poverty rates and higher levels of education tend to have better economic prospects in adulthood.

However, race is the biggest predictor of success, regardless of whether the child lives in a high or low opportunity neighborhood.

For example, the probability of a white child in the ML King neighborhood of Chattanooga becoming a high-income adult is 11%. For a black child, the probability is 2%.

The income gap is just as wide in high-potential neighborhoods like North Chattanooga. The probability of a white child becoming a high-income adult is 21%. The probability for a black child in that same neighborhood is 1%.

Chattanooga Prep’s educational model aims to bridge this gap by providing a rigorous curriculum to minority students from all neighborhoods in Hamilton County.

“Through our model of exposing young men, developing the leaders of tomorrow by nurturing educators, by fostering exposure to the environment, helps change that trajectory,” Scott said.

Knoxville Preparatory School will use the same educational model in a city where about 22 percent of residents are black or Latino.

“Academically, we believe that all of our students are capable of succeeding, that there is no ceiling, as long as they receive an excellent and rigorous education. We accomplish a lot of this by having our students complete AP (Advanced Placement) courses, regardless of their level, they will take AP courses,” said Juan Aguinaga, director of studies at Chattanooga Prep, in an interview.

Knoxville Prep will also support Chattanooga’s small teacher-to-student ratio (16:1), emphasis on sports, creative arts, and extracurricular activities, and its boy-friendly culture.

“We are able to focus our programs on the development of boys,” Scott said. “And when you think about our society, our communities here in Chattanooga, but soon in Knoxville…When you look at the data, boys are underachieving in almost every area of ​​our communities. So a school for boys focused on leadership and academics, preparing students for college and careers, we can tailor our curriculum and adapt our model to what boys like and what boys need to help them succeed. »

Devin Love, 12, said since coming to Chattanooga Prep from Dalton Public Schools in Georgia, he’s had more opportunities.

“Coming here opened me up to a lot of things, club level. I did chess. I did Media Club,” Love said. “I opened myself up to a bunch of other things that I think wouldn’t have happened where I’m from.”

Love now runs his own school podcast and has interviewed former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and his family members – Cleveland Browns owners and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam and Dee Haslam.

Love, alongside other students, also had a Knoxville Prep relief plan.

“We went to a lot of reunion-type meetings, discussed the plans…and discussed what we should do to try to keep Knox Prep running like Chatt Prep,” Love said. “Education, it should stay the same, because I feel like the push here is really strong. So, I think it should stay the same. But other activities to keep students engaged, you you might just have to see what other kids like from where they are.”

Chattanooga Prep officials have filed a letter of intent for Knoxville Prep with the Knox County School Board, a required step in the Tennessee State charter school application process. The next approval window for charter schools is April 2024. Scott said he is confident the school will be approved.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of incredible success at Chattanooga Prep, and we want the same opportunity for kids everywhere, honestly,” Ted Allong said. “And that’s a great next step for our organization.”

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.

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