Crenshaw to head Knox Prep charter school

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

So here we go.

Akermann Marketing and PR has announced the hiring of Janet Crenshaw as the founding principal of Knoxville Preparatory School (Knox Prep), set to open to sixth grade boys in August 2024. Knox Prep is a public charter school which means it is tuition-free to local students and will lay claim to per-pupil state funding that previously went to Knox County Schools.

Crenshaw most recently worked nine years for the Texas-based Idea Public Schools, in leadership roles from principal to regional director of leader development.

She graduated from Emory University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Then, through Teach for America, she spent five years in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a sixth-grade math teacher. She completed a master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia University in 2014.

As Knox Prep’s founding principal, Crenshaw will oversee the recruitment of students, operations & planning, instructional design and hiring of teachers and staff over the next year, with the support of the PREP Public Schools network team, according to the press release.

Both the Knoxville Chapter NAACP and state Rep. Sam McKenzie expressed opposition to the charter school before the school board considered the application this spring. McKenzie was blunt and harsh:

Knox Prep joins Chattanooga Prep under the PREP Public Schools umbrella. The chief executive officer is Brad Scott.

Knox Prep is governed by bylaws and a five-member board: spouses Ted Alling, chair; and Kelly Alling, vice chair; David Caines, president/COO of Chattanooga-based Kenco Logistics; Sue Anne Wells, Ph.D., founder Montessori Elementary School, Highland Park, Chattanooga; and Jack Studer, math teacher at Baylor School.

Chattanooga Prep, which opened in 2018, is governed by a larger board with some familiar names:

  • Chair | Aaron Webb
  • Vice-Chair | Ward Davenport
  • Treasurer | David Caines
  • Secretary | Edna Varner, Ed.D
  • Kelly Alling
  • Ted Alling
  • Tricia Allen
  • Moise Baptiste, PhD
  • David Bhattacharya, M.D.
  • Jimmy Haslam
  • Shewanee Howard-Baptiste
  • Aaron Love
  • Armando Rodriguez
  • Amber Williams, Ed.D.

Knox Prep is the second charter school in Knoxville and will be the first charter open to high school students, as well as the first all-boys school.  Knox Prep will open with 115 sixth grade students and add an additional class each academic year until it reaches 12th grade for a total enrollment of 700 students, per the press release. Knox Prep’s enrollment application for rising sixth grade boys in Knox County opens November 15, with the deadline for priority application submissions being December 15.

To meet Crenshaw and learn more about Knox Prep, prospective families and students are invited to an information session on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the future school site located at the Boys and Girls Club of the TN Valley on 967 Irwin St. Those interested in attending the information session can sign up at

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.

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