Academy era at Bearden begins with implementation of Freshman Academy


Olivia Rattell

Mrs. Rebecca Nutter teaches AP Human Geography one day this week. Mrs. Nutter is the new dean of Bearden’s Freshman Academy.

As upperclassmen file through the hallways on the first day of school, they recognize the apprehensive expressions on the freshmen’s faces and recall that when they were freshmen, they felt a sudden sense of urgency.

What am I going to do for my career? Am I going to college? Where am I going to go?

However, the start of a new program this year is designed to relieve that anxiety.

The members of the Class of 2026 at Bearden began their high school careers with the 865 Academies, a way for freshmen to jumpstart their high school experiences by exploring their personal interests and aptitudes, further preparing them for their postsecondary careers. 

When fully implemented, students will choose an academy and a career pathway, which will include at least three elective classes aligned to a college or career goal,” said Mr. Greg Adams, who is the assistant principal overseeing Freshman Academy. “These classes will be completed during the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, and will be combined with learning experiences that bring businesses, community, and college partners into the school.”

Bearden is one of the seven high schools selected to begin the Freshman Academy; eventually all Knox County Schools will switch to this format. Not only will the Academy model provide freshmen with helpful skills, it will also give classes for upperclassmen a “smaller feel” in a big school. 

“In their career academies, their teachers will teach their classes the same as always, but they will incorporate some lessons that connect the class content to the career academy,” said Mrs. Rebecca Nutter, Freshman Academy Dean and social studies teacher. “For example, if there were a business academy, a U.S. history teacher in that academy would still teach the U.S. history curriculum, but might incorporate lessons on entrepreneurship and the role of business in history by emphasizing people like Rockefeller and Carnegie.” 

The Freshman Academy is a new concept for Bearden students, but it shouldn’t be a confusing one. The 865 Academy format will still allow freshmen to take their required courses and choose electives; the only new class will be Freshman Seminar, a class set aside for students to identify their interests and skills. 

“I was a little bit intimidated at first, but since I don’t know what Bearden is like without the academy, I see no difference,” freshman Kendall Coe said. “I do think the academy will help me further in high school with finding my future career.”