The Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Mathematics and Science (TGA) is now entering its third year as the state’s first specialty school. Under the direction of UT’s nationally acclaimed College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, the Academy provides an integrated curriculum that embeds key elements of the social sciences, language arts, and the humanities in rich and relevant problem-based modules. With a strong physics and calculus foundation, the Academy students are also paired with a scientist at the Oak Ridge National Lab to enhance the experiential nature of his/her science and math instruction.
Admission to the Academy is highly selective and the program of study is very rigorous. Paramount to the recruiting and application process is that admitted TGA students represent the Grand Divisions of Tennessee-- East, Middle, and West--as well as its regional, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity. Interested applicants complete an electronic application that includes essays, an interest inventory, and letters of recommendation from their most recent teachers of mathematics, science, and English as well as their school counselor. Completed applications are initially scored by trained rating teams; promising applicants are contacted by TGA faculty for a telephone interview. The top tier applicants from the telephone interview process are invited to TGA for Discovery Days. This process includes a visit to campus, a final interview with TGA faculty, group activities with other top tier applicants, and subject area placement assessments. These potential students and their families immerse themselves in the living and learning spaces at TGA, as the final student selections are made by TGA faculty.
TGA is housed just across the Tennessee River from the University of Tennessee (UT) main campus in Knoxville at the Tennessee School for the Deaf (TSD). Academy instructors for the math and science classes are approved by UT to offer college credit hours to TGA students through the university. All math classes offered in the standard curriculum are taught on the TSD campus by university approved instructors. First year science classes are taught on the TSD campus by university approved instructors. UT lab space and equipment are used for all science labs. Students complete second year science classes on the UT campus directly with UT faculty and students. TGA students will earn 11-14 credit hours in math and 16 credit hours in science through the UT system. All other courses are taught for high school credit on the TSD campus by TGA instructors. Doctoral level graduate assistants provide one-on-one academic support, as well as counseling, throughout the year.
In addition to traditional academic experiences, TGA students are paired with a mentor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with whom they spend a full day each week throughout the academic year conducting a scientific research project. Students are expected to write a technical report complete with literature review, research design and methodology, experimental results, analysis of data, conclusions, and implications for the future. At the end of the school year, students present their findings at the ORNL Student Poster Session held every spring for undergraduates and high school students. Abstracts are printed in the annual event guide and include specific work in Biosciences, Computational Sciences and Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Material Science and Technology, National Center for Computational Sciences, and Nuclear Science and Technology.
Each school year, TGA students must complete 20 hours of service activities. Each student tailors his/her own service learning plan, incorporating future endeavors and concepts learned in coursework at the Academy. Student activities include serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House, building projects with Habitat for Humanity, tutoring at local establishments (i.e. Wesley House, Bridge Services), volunteering at local hospitals and nursing homes, and dispensing food to those in need with Second Harvest Food Bank.
The TGA Student Government Association advocates for student interest while having weekly meetings with TGA faculty so that student concerns are addressed on a consistent basis. In addition, the SGA promotes a recycling initiative, composting, and the "Keep Your Cottage Clean" pact.
The Academy also includes a co-curricular module each month designed to broaden the sphere of academic influence and expound on classroom instruction. Students meet with faculty advisors once per week to discuss the module topic and complete relevant activities. Topics include music and instrumentation, psychology of the brain, political science, math and science careers, cultural geography, and modern genocide.
The inaugural class of TGA graduated in spring 2009. 13 students graduated, all with exceptional honors. These students will be attending colleges across the country, including Cal Tech, Stanford, Williams College, Rhodes, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and, of course, our beloved University of Tennessee. The median household income for the class of 2009 was $60,000-$79,900. Regional backgrounds varied, with students from rural, suburban, and urban-metropolitan locations. As sophomores applying to TGA, the senior class boasted a PLAN mean of 24, an ACT mean of 29, and a PSAT mean of 182.5. All students attended public or public magnet high schools across the state of Tennessee, with school sizes ranging from 495 to 2349. As seniors, the class maintained a 183 PSAT mean (two are National Merit Semi-Finalists and two more are Commended Students), an ACT mean of 30.13 and an SAT mean of 2156.
Each student at the Academy also remains enrolled in his or her home high school. Thus, post-secondary institutions should also expect to view the transcript from the student’s home high school. The grades and courses reflected for the student’s junior and senior year are indicating courses taken at the Tennessee Governor’s Academy. Some discrepancies may have been unavoidable as many of Tennessee’s area high schools do not offer Mandarin, Differential Equations, or Matrix Algebra, etc. and most use a different grading scale.
Tennessee Governor’s Academy
2730 Island Home Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37920
Phone: (865) 946-3673