BOE says hello and goodbye to superintendent, student rep

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Knox County Board of Education at Monday’s work session. (Screen grabs from YouTube)

The new Knox County Schools Superintendent, Dr. John Rysewyk, attended a Board of Education work session for the first time in his new position Monday. 

“This is a dream come true, and it’s nice to finally have the day to be here,” said Rysewyk as the meeting began. “I thank the board for this opportunity to be able to do it. I was able to spend some of my very first hours in schools.”

Rysewyk also delivered his first Superintendent’s report, announcing that summer learning camps have begun in Knox County with more than 51,000 students enrolled. He also announced that more information would be revealed soon in regard to restructuring happening for the administration at Knox County Schools. According to the superintendent, details of that restructuring plan will be released beginning Tuesday and throughout the week.

Just as Monday’s work session was Rysewyk’s first, it was Student Representative Raymond Jin’s last. 

Board member Evetty Satterfield took a moment to recognize Jin, who graduated from Farragut High School in May as valedictorian with a 4.78 GPA.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Rysewyk

“Since June is the last month of his term, Superintendent Rysewyk and the board wanted to take a moment to recognize our current Board of Education Student Representative, Mr. Raymond Jin,” Satterfield began. “Raymond Jin has been a joy to work with and was dedicated to attending not only board meetings, but student advisory council and student government meetings as well. Thank you for your hard work, and specifically the hard work that you put into getting superintendent search input with the students.”

Among with a long list of other accomplishments,  Jin has been named a 2022 US Presidential Scholar semi-finalist and 2022 National Award Scholarship finalist.

“Every year we all agree how hard it is to say goodbye to our student representative, and Raymond, you are no exception,” Satterfield continued. “You will always be remembered for your commitment to this board, and for being an extraordinary part of the last couple of years.”

Council members then took a moment to give the departing representative a round of applause. 

“It’s truly been an honor to serve this community with all of you… I am also so grateful that this board gives students a voice in their own education because that’s incredibly important,” Jin said.

Jin explained that he plans to attend Yale University in the fall with a double major in environmental  engineering and computer science and economics. 

“Raymond, as I said to you earlier, go to Yale and get your degrees, then come back to Knox County,” said Superintendent Rysewyk.”That’s what we want. We appreciate you and we’re very proud of you.” 

School board members are expected to take up several issues when they gather again Wednesday for their regular meeting.

Among them is a resolution to reassess and potentially take action to change the superintendent evaluation process.

The agenda also includes a plethora of service contracts for the upcoming school year. From transportation to photography and food service, there are nearly twenty contracts up for consideration.

Most notably, one contract with Central Technologies Inc. would supply school resource officers with body cameras at a cost of just over $205,000.

Recent mass shootings have raised alarms across the country and triggered heated discussions over school security.

As the meeting drew to a close, Student Representative Jin called for change. 

“Although it’s been two weeks, I kind of want to speak to what happened in Uvalde, Texas. I just wanted to offer my deepest condolences to the families and the community there. You have gone through so much more grief than anyone should have ever had to face in their life,” he said.

“And I just want to say that our community and our school district is there for you. My hope is that action can be taken to prevent these tragedies from ever happening again because I can only imagine what the anguish would be like if something like that happened here, or anywhere else in the country,” he said. 

The Board’s regular session is set for  Wednesday at 5 p.m. .

Anyone who would like to speak during the meeting’s public forum must register by 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon by calling 865-594-1623. Speakers may also arrive five minutes prior Wednesday’s meeting and speak with Vice-Chair Satterfield to be added to the public forum’s speaker list. 

Student Representative Raymond Jin

Megan Sadler can be reached at news@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on June 7, 2022.