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Outreach and Engagement Centers and Projects

Our mission strongly embraces outreach and service designed to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all learners, especially underserved populations. We do this by: creating and participating in mutually beneficial university-school and agency partnerships that promote equity and diversity; leading and participating in organizations (domestically and internationally) to promote evidence-based and equitable standards of practice in our respective areas; and sharing our expertise (domestically and internationally) in engaged academic outreach activities that benefit all educators, interpreters, and students.

Click on the links below to visit all of our Centers as well as a list of just some of the fantastic outreach projects on which our faculty lead and co-lead.

Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature (CCYAL)

The Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature is an accessible and comprehensive resource for all people who wish to engage and empower young readers through quality contemporary children’s and young adult literature. CCYAL is led by Director and professor of English education, Susan Groenke.

Center on Deafness (COD)

Established in 1998, the Center on Deafness provides an array of research and collaborative partnership opportunities related to deafness and disability issues. The center focuses on disseminating knowledge and effective practices related to deafness, establishing and maintaining professional networks, and collaborating with academic and service programs. The Center has established relationships with postsecondary institutions, rehabilitation agencies, and educational systems in 13 states across the region as well as Tennessee. The Center on Deafness is led by Director and research professor of Deaf studies, David Smith.

Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS) 

The Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS) serves as the organizational unit for projects related to mathematics and science education and the discovery of new strategies that generate effective STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the PreK–16 arena. CEEMS is led by Department Head, Director of East Tennessee STEM Hub, and professor of math education, Lynn Hodge.

Culturally Relevant Robotics: A family and teacher partnership (CRRAFT)

CRRAFT seeks to promote computational thinking and a sense of belonging in computer science through a culturally relevant robotics program (CRR Program) developed through a research-practice-partnership with university teacher educators and researchers, administrators, teachers, coaches, and Black and Latinx children and their families. CRRAFT is led by assistant professor of STEM education / math, Frances Harper.

East Tennessee STEM Hub

The East Tennessee STEM Hub is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) in the Knox/East TN Region. It is a a regional partnership of educational, business, scientific, and research institutions and organizations, with participating counties including Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union. The Hub connects institutions of higher education including the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Science), Pellissippi State Community College, Roane State Community College, and Walters State Community College and more than twenty school districts in thirteen counties. The goal of the East Tennessee STEM Hub is to promote and support high quality STEM education in the East Tennessee region and to leverage all available resources to amplify opportunities for all students. The East Tennessee STEM Hub is led by Department Head, Director of CEEMS, and professor of math education, Lynn Hodge.

Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

SIWI is an evidence-based framework for writing instruction specifically designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. SIWI is led by Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies and professor of Deaf studies, Kimberly Wolbers.

Tennessee Tiered Supports Center (Tennessee TSC)

The Tennessee Tiered Supports Center (Tennessee TSC) provides technical assistance to build local capacity to implement and align Tennessee’s frameworks for student support, RTI2-A and RTI2-B. The Center partners with district leaders and implementers to improve infrastructures and practices that allow the frameworks to work together —as RTI2-A+RTI2-B —rather than in isolation. This program is being offered through the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the Tennessee Department of Education. UT-PLAYS is led by associate department head, programs, recruitment, and data. Director of UT-PLAYS, and associate professor, special education, Tara Moore.

University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS)

Through UACS, UT students, faculty, and staff provide school children academic support services, physical education, music, and art programs after regular school hours. With these programs, UACS is able to enhance the interpersonal skills, critical-thinking skills, and academic success of participating children. Initially founded at Pond Gap Elementary School from the outstanding educational partnership work of Robert (Bob) Kronick, PhD, the Community School concept in Knoxville was made possible by a collaboration between The University of Tennessee and alums Randy and Jenny Boyd. UACS is led by Director and clinical assistant professor Janine Al-Aseer.

UT-Personalized Learning at Your Speed, Special Education (UT-PLAYS Special Education)

UT-PLAYS Special Education is an online program leading to Special Education Interventionist 6-12 (with K-8 option) and/or Comprehensive K-12 add-on endorsements for currently licensed educators in the state of Tennessee. This program is being offered through the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the Tennessee Department of Education. UT-PLAYS is led by associate department head, programs, recruitment, and data; Director of Tennessee Tiered Supports Center and associate professor of special education, Tara Moore.

UT Educator Preparation Providers (EPP) Foundational Literacy Skills and Special Innovation Project

UT EPP Foundational Literacy Skills and Special Innovation Project is a project established by the Tennessee Department of Education to ensure special education pre-service teachers have the background knowledge and skills needed to teach students with disabilities to read and write. The multi-university project is housed in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and is led by CEHHS Director of Literacy Initiatives and professor, special education, Sherry Mee Bell.

VolsTeach

VolsTeach is a program that emphasizes early and on-going field based experiences while students are working to attain a bachelor degree in math or a science. VolsTeach targets undergraduate math, science, or engineering majors who are interested in expanding their professional skills and exploring a career in secondary teaching. Students can graduate with a degree in math, science, or engineering, as well as obtain licensure as highly qualified teachers in their respective content areas. The Tennessee Department of Education endorses the VolsTeach program to prepare highly qualified teachers to meet state and federal guidelines. VolsTeach is led by Department Head, Director of CEEMS, and professor of math education, Lynn Hodge and coordinated by Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies and clinical associate professor of VolsTeach/STEM Education/Science, Yolanda Kirkpatrick, and clinical associate professor of VolsTeach/STEM Education/Math, Theresa (Terri) Hopkins.

VolsTeach for Appalachia

VolsTeach for Appalachia (VFA) is an National Science Foundation-funded project (Award Id : 1758325) that strengthens the STEM teacher pathway from community college to high-need school districts in Appalachian East Tennessee. The project provides rural scholars unique experiences as they become culturally responsive STEM teachers. VolsTeach for Appalachia is led by Department Head, Director of CEEMS, and professor of math education, Lynn Hodge.