First parent info fair aims to communicate ways to address 21st century student needs

Abby Ann Ramsey, Editor-in-Chief

Bearden will host its first-ever “Parenting Info Fair: How to Support Your Teenage Student in Today’s World” on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to inform parents of how they can help their student with issues ranging all the way from college financial planning to stress reducing techniques.

According to Pew Research Center, about 70% of teenagers say that anxiety and depression are major problems among their peers, and 61% of teenagers say they feel pressured to get good grades. In recent years, concerns about students’ mental, emotional, social, and academic wellbeing have risen and this is not only a national issue, but one that is prevalent at Bearden as well.

Assistant principal Ms. Cassandra Dowd is the administrator overseeing the counseling department and is the lead of Bearden’s trauma-informed team as the curriculum principal.

“I’ve been in the education field for about 24 years and over time just seeing the increase in support that we’ve needed to provide as a school has just been a shoutout that there needs to be more help,” Ms. Dowd said.

After noticing the issues, she decided that a parent information fair would be the best way to communicate students’ needs and how parents can help.

“The parent info fair is an effort to communicate out to our parents and community some of the available resources to help meet the needs of their students,” Ms. Dowd said. “We have just seen a need in trying to figure out more creative ways to support students whether it be academically or socially or mentally.”

There are many helpful community and school resources that parents and students are unaware of. One of the main goals of the parent info fair is to bridge the gap between the number of resources and the number of people who understand and take advantage of them.

“We find that parents are often asking us what resources are available and… there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of connecting between community resources and families, and so we just felt like it was a need that needed to be addressed,” Ms. Dowd said. 

Students are at school seven hours a day, five days a week, and between extracurriculars, jobs,  and homework, having substantial time to spend with family is extremely limited. This makes it difficult for parents to know what’s going on in their student’s life and how school is impacting them.

Because educators actually see teenagers in the school environment, it can be helpful for them to communicate to parents just what the high school atmosphere is like and how it can affect their kids. 

“I really hope that it helps parents to have another insight to what their kids are dealing with,” Ms. Dowd said. “I’m really just hoping that parents will have more knowledge about what questions to ask their kids so that they can dig into whatever, whether it is an academic or emotional issue.” 

Overall, Ms. Dowd wants Bearden to be a place of open communication where students know exactly how to get help with anything they are struggling with without facing judgment and believes this fair is a great place to start.

“I think the more that we open communication about some of the things that kids are dealing with that it can just provide a more and more supportive environment for students and for faculty and families,” Ms. Dowd said. 

The Treetop Coffee Shop truck will be at the fair, and Senior Committee will sell breakfast.

The following is a list of guest speakers for the event:

ACES and the Impact of Trauma – Anna Graham & Dan Philips, KCS and ArcEd
Stress & Anxiety – Haley Cottrell, Ebenezer Counseling
Social Media Safety – Ted Francisco, KPD Homeland Sec.
Vaping – Kerri Thompson, Knox Co. Health Dept.
Mindfulness – Lucius Irvin, KCS
Eating Disorders – Missy Cohen, Focus Integrative

The list of booths is as follows:

Name: Susan Bolinger (BHS)
Description of Services: YouScience info for
student aptitudes
Contact Info: [email protected]

Name: Kristi Lutes (BHS)
Description of Services: Benefits of Yoga
Contact Info: [email protected]

Name: Ebenezer Counseling
Description of Services: Mental Health Services
Contact Info: Dr. Dale Berry & Haley Cottrell,

Name: EdSouth
Description of Services: College Financial
Contact Info: Ruthie Cawood,
[email protected]

Name: Focus Integrative
Description of Services: Eating Disorders
Contact Info: Missy Cohen, 865-622-7116

Name: Healthy Connections
Description of Services: Relationship Education
Contact Info: Dr. Erica Mitchell,
[email protected]

Name: Helen Ross McNabb
Description of Services: Behavioral Health
Contact Info: Kelsey Johnson,
[email protected]

Name: Huntington Learning Center
Description of Services: Tutoring/ Test Prep
Contact Info: Krista & Matthew McGrath,
[email protected]

Name: KCS Parent Liaison
Description of Services: Parent Outreach for
Knox County Schools
Contact Info: Sue Ownby,
[email protected]

Name: Knox Behavioral & Mental Health
Description of Services: Psychological and
Speech/ Processing Services
Contact Info: Dr. Arianna Boddy,
[email protected]
Dr. Elena Patten, [email protected]

Name: Knox County Health Department
Description of Services: Vaping Education
Contact Info: Kerri Thompson,
[email protected]

Name: KPD Homeland Security
Description of Services: Social Media Safety
Contact Info: Ted Francisco,
[email protected]

Name: Outliers Advantage
Description of Services: Test Prep
Contact Info: Bobby Nicholson,
[email protected]

Name: TSAC (TN Student Assistance Corp.)
Description of Services: College Financial
Contact Info: Rita Turchetta,
[email protected]

Name: Test Prep Experts
Description of Services: Test Prep
Contact Info: Michael Smith,
[email protected]

Name: TN Mental Health Association
Description of Services: Mental Health Services
Contact Info: Candace Moore,
[email protected]