Education in Jefferson County, Tennessee

Check out Jefferson County! It might be the perfect “fringe-rural” spot for you and your family.

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Fringe-Rural

Jefferson County is termed “fringe-rural,” which means it has both urban and rural attributes. With a hop and a skip in one direction you can be in dense woods, hunting deer or turkey without another soul in sight for miles. Take a jump in the other direction and you’re in Knoxville, Morristown or Sevierville. The biggest appeal of Jefferson County is its lovely rural land situated close enough for an easy commute to one of these bigger cities. Population here isn’t very dense, but there are many resources and cultural sites in the area. Carson-Newman University, a pre-Civil War institution, is one such cultural beacon. For a family who might be on the lookout for someplace close to the bigger city of Knoxville (a little over or under 30 minutes away, depending on your in-town destination) yet rich with country charms, making a home in Jefferson County just might be ideal.

The public school system is made up of 12 schools, one of which is an alternative school and one of which is the Jefferson County High School. Find out more about the Jefferson County public school system here.

Resources

The public school system also has supplementary family resources, from information about babies and very young childhood to resources on free kids’ books. ( Did you know Dolly Parton founded a statewide early reading program called the Imagination Library, which sends free children’s books to preschool-aged kids?) If you’re new to parenting, or just looking for a bit of information, go here to find out more.

Jefferson County High School

jchs-patriots-logo

Jefferson County High School is the system’s only high school. According to U.S.News.com, student enrollment for 2016 is 2,102. Boy-girl ratio is pretty even, at 51 percent male to 49 percent female. Student-teacher ratio is 16:1, and there are opportunities for Advanced Placement courses and exams, which give college-bound students a real leg-up. In fact, many high schools in Tennessee are pushing to improve the availability and passing rate of their AP programs. Overall high school graduation rate is 90%.

Jefferson County Private Schools

There are two options for private schooling of little ones in the area.

Jefferson Montessori School is a very small school for little ones. Fans of Montessori say it’s a great way to give kids a jump-start on a love of learning, especially in the important early formative years. You can contact them at:

Phone: (865) 475-5250

Po Box 489, Jefferson City, TN 37760

Blue Springs Christian Academy is a Pentecostal School run by volunteers. It’s a very small, private school for kids K-12. Reach them at:

3265 Blue Springs Rd, Strawberry Plains, TN 37871

Phone: (865) 932-7603

Carson-Newman University

carson-newman_seal

Of course, for post-secondary education in Jefferson County there is Carson-Newman University, the historic liberal arts Christian school that has been an important part of life in Jefferson City since 1851. They offer fifty different majors in on-campus and online courses in fields such as art, education and health pre-majors (to name just a few). It’s a small campus, with 2,528 students are enrolled there as of 2016. Visit their website to find out more about the school.

Check out Jefferson County! It might be the perfect “fringe-rural” spot for you and your family. Visit my website at darlenereeves-kline.com to view listings.

 

Schools in Morristown, Tennessee

Who knew you’d be the one doing homework to send your kid to school?

Morristown has a lot to offer any family: beautiful parks, fabulous lake access, convenient shopping and restaurants, a vibrant art scene…but there are practical things to think about when moving to Hamblen County, too. Daily life (and livelihood) details matter a lot, like jobs, cost of living, and availability and quality of schools. Once you decide to make the move, starting early on school enrollment is a must. In fact, you should arguably check on the best schools in your new area before you choose a house, as it might affect the neighborhood you need to live in for school zoning. Check out this article for tips on moving your kids to a new school.

school-cartoon
From Clipartpanda.com

As we’ve said, one of the most important things for parents to consider when moving to a new area is the quality of schools, so let’s consider the many options Morristown has to offer in that department. There are more options than you might think for private education in addition to the public school system for kids in kindergarten through high school in Hamblen County.

There are 18 public schools in the Morristown public school system. That number includes one alternative school and two high schools (Morristown East and Morristown West are football rivals from way back!) Visit the public school website for Hamblen County here.

east-high
Morristown East High

According to GreatSchools.com, the top schools in Hamblen county are Alpha Elementary (K-5), West View Middle (6-8), John Hay Elementary (K-5), and Witt Elementary (K-5). These schools are chosen based on comparison of standardized testing scores.To learn more about these schools’ rankings, visit here.

Niche.com rates Hamblen County public schools overall at #14 for the whole state of Tennessee for the year 2016. That’s based on a slew of categories, including test scores, college readiness and graduation rates. That’s 14 out of 100. Not bad! Check out the website for more information.

Some parents disagree with public school policies or feel strongly about private school education because of personal beliefs. Many families are choosing to go an alternate route in educating their children.  If you’re one of those parents, Morristown has you covered, too. Hamblen County is home to six private Christian schools. Visit PrivateSchoolReview.com for more information.

The two biggest private Christian schools in Morristown are All Saints Episcopal School, with over 100 students enrolled in  Pre-K through 8th grade, and Cornerstone Academy with over 100 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade.

all-saints

All Saints is poised to celebrate their 50th anniversary next year (2017). Visit their website to learn more about the school. Cornerstone, founded in 2006, has broken ground on a brand-new addition to their campus. They’re expanding! Visit their website to find out more about Cornerstone Academy.

cornerstone

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best school for your child! This article in Time has some good tips about what makes a good school.

This article from The Washington Post also has some great tips on making the school choice.

Who knew you’d be the one doing homework to send your kid to school?

Please visit my website for information about listings in Morristown, Tennessee!

 

Arts in Morristown, Tennessee

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

Art!

You might expect to find a wide array of art in tourist areas like Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, or in a bigger metropolitan area like Knoxville.  But if you’re new to the Morristown, Tennessee area, I’ll let you in on a great secret that locals know: Morristown is a major hub for the area’s thriving arts community. Artists from surrounding counties display fine art at the Rose Center, which boasts the newly refurbished  Edith Davis Gallery, as well as a Local Artist Gallery. Rose Center hosts bigger community events, too, such as the Mountain Makins Festival. Morristown also has a lively Art Association, which puts on Arts in the Park every September. Read on to find out more:

 

rose-center
Photo from tngenweb.org

Rose Center

This historic center was built in 1892 as the town’s first coeducational public high school. Today it’s a “Designated Agency of the Tennessee Arts Commission.” In this beautiful building you can take anything from  an art or yoga class (or enroll your kids in one!), to one of the Center’s courses on writing grant proposals for arts programs in our area. There’s even a Children’s Touch Museum and a Historical Classroom! The Center’s classrooms and reception areas are available to rent for community programs, weddings and baby showers.

According to RoseCenter.org: “Classes currently available may include guitar, acrylic painting, jewelry making, children’s art, drama, Zumba, tai chi, cake decorating, clogging, and more!”

If you have a skill and some time, Rose Center’s volunteer staff is happy to hear from you.

Rose Center is open Monday through Friday, 9-5. Visit RoseCenter.org for more information about the history and programs of Morristown’s cultural arts center.

Mountain Makins Festival

mountain-makins-festival-at-rose-center-in-morristown
Photo courtesy of visitmorristowntn.com

This is the 41st year for this acclaimed festival, hosted by the Rose Center Council for the Arts.

RoseCenter.org describes the festival: “The award-winning festival, started in 1976 as a way to raise funds to save historic Rose School, celebrates the very best of Appalachian culture, from crafts to music. The festival is a delightful combination of crafts, food, music, dancing and fun.”

This is one venue where you can get a ride on a pony, snack on some delicious fair food, stop by to check out  a banjo-strumming virtuoso in period garb and ogle local arts and crafts. Fall is incomplete without a good festival, and this one certainly fits the bill!

Visit Mountain Makins FaceBook page here.

Morristown Art Association

This thriving community of artists hosts a juried art show at the Rose Center, as well as gatherings and workshops throughout the year. In September they put on Arts in the Park, a family-friendly art show with live performances, food and local arts and crafts available for sale. They even include a tent where kids can make art with the help of a professional artist.

Visit their FaceBook page for information about upcoming events and membership.

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

Don’t forget to visit darlenereeves-kline.com/ for more information about listings in Morristown.

Savoring Fine Wines in East Tennessee

Whether or not you’re interested in growing your own grapes, you can sample East Tennessee’s delicious bounty in a wine tour.

The Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area is bursting with vacation ideas and entertainment for every member of the family. Dollywood and Splash Country, miniature golfing, the strip at Gatlinburg…all these offer hours (days!) of fun, especially if you’re making memories with your children.

For those who want to get away from the noisy tourist destinations, there is always The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with miles and miles of hiking and backcountry backpacking waiting quietly for your exploration. There are other natural attractions in the area, too; white water rafting on the Big Pigeon river is just minutes away from Gatlinburg. Ober Gatlinburg offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and other fun attractions in the summer. (Visit obergatlinburg.com to find out more.)

But there’s another side to Sevier County that’s really coming into its own lately: fine wining!

wine-tour

Due to its humid and temperate climate, East Tennessee was once well known for its vineyards and wineries until Prohibition in 1919 (see www.tennesseewines.com/history for a brief history of wine culture in Tennessee.) Most people are familiar with moonshining that came after that, and the backwoods racing to outrun the revenuers that spawned the sport that is now known as NASCAR.

But now, wine is back on the menu in East Tennessee! Some of our vineyards have been back in business for decades, and many others are newly flourishing in our area so uniquely suited for growing grapes. See this informative publication from the University of Tennessee for information about growing grapes in our area.

Whether or not you’re interested in growing your own grapes, you can sample East Tennessee’s delicious bounty in a wine tour.

The Four Rivers Wine Trail includes Blue Slip Winery (in Knoxville), Eagle Springs Winery (in Kodak), Richland Vineyards, Spout Spring Estates, (both in Blaine) and The Grape Barn at Nolichucky Vineyards (in Russelville). Visit their website for more information.

The Rocky Top Wine Trail includes six wineries open for tastings and tours, all on hwy 66/441 between Kodak and Gatlinburg: Eagle Springs Winery (Kodak), Hillside Winery (Sevierville), Apple Barn Winery (Sevierville), Mountain Valley Winery (Pigeon Forge), Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery (Gatlinburg), and Sugarland Cellars (Gatlinburg). These wineries have even partnered with Elite Limo Tours if you need a designated driver.

rocky-top-wine-tour

Visit rockytopwineries.com/wine-trail for links and directions.

Once you have chosen your favorite bottle (or bottles!), take it home to savor the flavors of the warm sun, gentle breezes and nourishing summer storms. The Rocky Top Wineries participate in a wine club, with significant member discounts. Learn more by clicking here: rockytopwineries.com/wine-club.

If you’re not a local yet, you can always rent a chalet in Sevier County. Visit here or here to search for accommodations. And, of course, should you fall in love with the area and want to start looking for your own place to call home in East Tennessee, visit darlenereeves-kline.com for listings and information.

Jefferson City: Past and Present

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history.

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history. The area served as a springboard for many prosperous businesses, and some local families can trace their lineages back to before this great country could even call itself a country! Union forces marched through during the Civil War, leaving marks in the destruction of buildings and legends passed down for generations since. Old Time Saturday is coming up, a festival dedicated to celebrating community. Come out if you can; it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s history. While you’re here, swing by two of Jefferson City’s great landmarks: Carson-Newman College and Glenmore Mansion. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Old Time Saturday

old-time-saturday

No town in Tennessee is complete without a fall festival! Jefferson City is no different; each year in October locals and visitors alike come out to celebrate Old Time Saturday. There are vendors selling crafts, food, curiosities and delights. There is people-watching aplenty as families come out to mingle and celebrate some of the last warm weather of the year. Maybe best of all is the live music, including fiddle-sawing kids and dancing in the street. Please visit the Jefferson County website for more information.

The Old Time Saturday Facebook page can be found here: www.facebook.com/OldTimeSat.

This fun festival is a great chance to wander around historic Mossy Creek, where old brick buildings and shady roads still speak of history.

Carson-Newman College

carson-newman

Carson-Newman College is celebrating its 165th anniversary this year (2016). In 1851, the institution opened its doors as the Mossy Creek Baptist Seminary, but it only kept this name for five years; in 1856 it became Mossy Creek Baptist College. The college shut down during the Civil War, when it was overrun and damaged by Union soldiers. Eventually, the name of the college was changed to honor a local trustee (J.H. Carson) and when it merged with a nearby college for women (Newman College) the name finally morphed into the one we know and love today: Carson-Newman College. The college is active in the Jefferson City community, especially in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek area, which we discussed in an earlier blog. Please visit www.cn.edu for more information about the school, including community events.

Glenmore Mansion

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The historic Glenmore Mansion, in the Mossy Creek district, has graced the hill on what is now called North Chucky Pike since 1868. It was lived in by two families who were prominent in local business: the Branners and the Jarnagins. Saved from the auction block in 1970, the mansion has undergone several phases of restoration. It is a beautiful piece of preserved history. There are periodic community events at Glenmore,  as well as private parties and weddings available by appointment. Tours are available on weekends from May to October. Call (865) 475-5014 for more information or visit glenmoremansion.com.

Not everything in Jefferson City is about the past; revitalization efforts are helping the city to grow day by day. The new festival park being constructed in Mossy Creek is just one example of this. Visit The Citizen Tribune to learn more about it.

Visit darlenereeves.com for listings and information about Jefferson City.

Tiny House Vs. Fixer-Upper

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny.

There has been more and more discussion of the tiny house movement in recent years, among sites like blogs, Facebook and Pinterest. What is the tiny house movement?

The website TheTinyLife.com has this to say:

“Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.”

The tiny house movement takes the concept of downsizing to the extreme. But why does it seem so appealing? The website explains:

“The most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; this translates to 15 years of working over your lifetime just to pay for it, and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.”

Click here to read more about it.

Basically, the appeal of a tiny house is that it costs less and takes less time to build and maintain. There is also a minimalist mentality that goes with the tiny house life. You can’t have too many things, because you don’t have the space to stuff it. For many people, it’s mentally and spiritually freeing to give up the majority of their stuff.

Plus, the tiny houses getting churned out nowadays are cute.

tiny-house
Courtesy of CountryLiving.com

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny. Living with other people and pets can make living in 100-400 square feet hard.

What About a Fixer-Upper?

One common feature of a tiny house is that it is built off-site and towed to your lot, which is a) convenient in some ways, but b) turns your house into what is essentially a trailer. What this means is that your tiny house exists in a gray area where it might actually depreciate in value as it ages, much like a house-trailer. (A house built on solid foundation, if properly maintained, appreciates in value over time.)

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Courtesy of thefarmersnest.com

An alternative to this problem is to buy a small fixer-upper property and, well, fix it up. By saving what you can of an older home you save money and keep a significant amount of materials out of the landfill (or from just rotting into the ground from neglect.) The property also gains a huge jump in equity (what we call sweat equity) by virtue of having been improved, so your cheap property is now worth a whole lot more.

As for financial concerns regarding maintaining and heating/cooling the home, there are a multitude of options on the market today for solar power, wind power, even water power. In our lovely, mountainous region there is plenty of fuel for wood heat. Insulation has come a long way, as have windows and efficient appliances. In fact, many of the things that make “tiny houses” so appealing can be (and frequently are!) adapted into a good old solid-foundation-ed house.

Your fixer-upper doesn’t have to be a huge house! It can still be small, and you can still make the move toward giving up an excess of material things and simplifying your life. One more thing: fixing up an existing house can sometimes give the surrounding neighborhood a real boost. You’d be surprised at the social impact you can have with the simple act of fixing the front porch and painting the house. Sometimes that’s all it takes to nudge your neighbors into doing the same for their houses.

To discuss tiny houses vs. fixer-uppers, or to view properties in our lovely East Tennessean area, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com.

 

Lifestyle in Grainger County

Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences.

Bordered by Cherokee and Norris Lakes, with plenty of woods, creeks, and farmland in between, Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences. Taxes are low here, as well as land and home prices. Agribusiness is making a big comeback in Grainger County, too. The land is bountiful, yet still close to consumers in more populated areas.

graingermap

The area is steeped in history; Tate Springs, in Bean Station, was once valued for its healing springs. Bean Station, founded by one of the area’s earliest settlers, is the site of the civil war battle named after the town. In Rutledge, the Grainger County seat, you can see a replica of Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop in front of the court house. He worked there briefly in the years before he became President of the United States. For more information about Grainger County, click here.

Wineries,  Vineyards and Local Farms

Tennessee has a long legacy of growing grapes and making wine. After Prohibition, and then the ebb and flow of farming economics, Tennessee wine fell by the wayside. Now, it’s making a comeback with small vineyards sprouting all over Northeast Tennessee. Here are two near the town of Blaine, in Grainger County:

Spout Spring Estates is a pleasantly surprising winery perched atop a ridge with commanding views 360 degrees around! They host free wine tastings during business hours, as well as weddings and other events. Visit spoutspringestates.com to find out more.

Richland Vineyards grows grapes for many local wineries. You can also visit the vineyard to pick your own fruit, and taste the wines made at different vineyards from grapes grown just steps away! Visit www.tennesseewines.com/richland_vineyards.htm to find out more.

Several family-operated farms in the area sell produce to local grocery stores and farmers markets.

tires and red barn

Red Barn Farms, located on Highway 11W, offers everything on site from fresh produce and eggs, to family events such as the corn maze. They even have a tractor tire jungle gym in front of the barn! Check their Facebook page for more information.

Grainger County Park

When you’re on your tour of local agribusiness, take a moment to stop in at the Grainger County Park. It’s surprisingly lovely, with play structures for kids, walking paths and the perfect picnic spot: high on a hill with a splendid view of Cherokee lake spread out below.

Grainger County Tomato Festival

Tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the country…did I say vegetable? I meant fruit, because, officially, that’s what a tomato is. Did you know that there are over 25,000 different kinds of tomatoes? You can learn these facts and so many more about the delicious, nutritious tomato at the Grainger County Tomato Festival! It’s held every summer in the last full weekend of July. The festival started in 1992 as a way to bring the community together and celebrate and promote Grainger County Tomatoes which, as locals know, are the best around.

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Admission is free. The festival features tomato wars, races, local artists and artisans, food, and even free music!   Visit www.graingercountytomatofestival.com for more information.

For Grainger County Listings, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!