Charlie Graduates

2020 n08

Remember Charlie? He’s the kindergartner who came to our International Scholars after-school program at a Knox County elementary school (2019 n21 He Left With a Smile). Because KIN is an official School Support Organization with Knox County Schools, our volunteers welcomed Charlie and other K-2 students into a classroom once a week to help them improve their literacy skills.

Charlie had only been in Knoxville for a few weeks when our volunteers first met him. He was quiet, with little English and an exhausted look on his face. Well, Charlie has come a long way!

Here’s an update from just before schools closed:

"Charlie not only knows his letter sounds, but he eagerly participates in activities and helps his classmates. He knows sight words, can read sentences and answer comprehension questions. He shows enthusiasm when told we are going to play a game. He is reading now and a confident learner. He understands what his teacher says and can respond appropriately. He has learned quickly!"

Now Charlie will graduate from Kindergarten and start 1st grade in the fall. We are all proud of Charlie, but he was just one of 390 Kindergartners in English Language Learner (ELL) programs across Knox County this year.

Last year at about this time, many of those 390 new students and their parents attended Kindergarten Round-Up at the Knox County Schools Welcome Center. They learned about education in the United States, received information about resources, met some teachers, and got tested on their English comprehension.

This year, things are different. These brand-new students will come in small groups to maintain social distancing guidelines, but also, each child should receive a backpack filled with the supplies they need to start Kindergarten strong.

For May's #GivingTuesdayNow, we rallied our friends and followers to delight these children and support their parents by donating funds or supplies for special, Kindergarten-specific backpacks. Many people joined us for this global day of unity and generosity! We raised enough donations (supplies and monetary gifts) to stock 53 backpacks, which we delivered to the KCS Welcome Center.


We actually accept loaded backpacks and school supplies throughout the year. If you would like to donate supplies or make a financial contribution to help these new-to-Knoxville international families, keep reading!

  • Ways to contribute:

  • Purchase items--or a complete backpack--at your favorite store. Contact Charlotte (423-721-3251 / 865-933-6121) to arrange drop off.

  • Choose items from our Amazon wishlist.

  • Donate a digital gift card (Visa, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Staples) and email it to

  • Make an on-line donation at Be sure to note that your gift is for backpacks. A full backpack costs around $35.

  • Send a check to KIN at P.O. Box 31052 Knoxville, TN 37930. Please tell us it's for backpacks.

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