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April 14th, 2021

Game on: WCHS senior turns video games into college scholarships

Students have a new rationale for playing so many video games – college scholarships. While the awareness of e-sports scholarships is relatively new, the potential looms large. High school students have the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars in scholarships for e-sports from reputable colleges and universities across the country.

Hunter Fecteau, a senior at West Creek High School, is proof as he boasts not only top-notch academics but also nearly $35,000 in scholarship offers from three different colleges to join their e-sports teams.

The process for e-sports recruitment is in line with traditional sports. “I had a Be Recruited profile where I play sports. [The colleges] took notice,” said Hunter.

The benefit to the colleges and universities is akin to traditional athletic incentives – recognition and achievement. Enrollment is always top of mind for higher education, and reaching future students can be tricky.

With this in mind, universities are targeting students in their arena. College students represent their schools in national competitions and regional match-ups. Top performers earn notoriety while the school is afforded grassroots marketing to potential future students.

However, it does come with a balance as students must still possess other competencies and requirements necessary to a successful college career. “They are not looking for players who are the best of the best,” said Hunter. “They want to help people get through college if needed.”

For Hunter, his aspirations for gaming do not stretch beyond simply being a lucrative hobby. “I want to be a medical oncologist,” he said. The three colleges he’s considering have partnerships with medical schools.

As he navigated his junior and senior years of high school amid a pandemic, the e-sports club at West Creek High allowed Hunter an active opportunity to connect safely with other students. The club is only in its second year but already has amassed a large following. “We just encourage each other,” he explained when reflecting on their past season. “The club gave me something to do, something to look forward to.”

Mr. Zacharias, the club sponsor and cybersecurity teacher at West Creek, agrees with the sentiment. “Probably 70% of the conversations that go on in the server are not about video games,” he said, explaining how the students will connect through the school’s private Discord group. Video games were the common connection that brought the students together. “It opens the door to find people with similar interests.”

Principal Matt Slight was the catalyst for creating the club. He saw the benefit both inside and outside of the classroom that e-sports could bring to students. Mr. Zacharias agrees the students continue to see growth through participation. They develop life skills such as teamwork while playing together. “When I go and spectate, hearing them communicate at the moment, it’s all about leadership.”

For students interested in joining the club, Mr. Zacharias emphasizes, “Don’t put yourself into a situation where your academics are at risk. No matter the athlete, academic standards are important.”

Hunter insists the entire process would not have been possible without the support of his family, too. “My dad was with it all the way. My mom supports me. [They would say] ‘Whatever decisions you make, were going to be backing you.’ If it weren’t for them, it wouldn’t be easy, and the decision would be much harder.”

Like every soon-to-be graduate, Hunter still feels those pangs of self-doubt. The real world is fast approaching, and he’s hesitant. “I am just scared to graduate. Scared to move on, I know it’s going to hit me that I won’t be here.”

Teachers at CMCSS actively prepare their students for college and career. “We have no choice but to embrace [technology],” said Mr. Zacharias. “We won’t reach our students if we don’t embrace technology. It’s the only life they’ve known.” In 2020, CMCSS introduced 1:1 technology for all K-12 students. Teachers incorporate technology into daily instruction. “To connect with our students, we have to speak their language. Their language is technology.”


Substitute Positions January 26th, 2021

CMCSS Opens Applications for Teacher Residency Programs

Applications are now open for the Teacher Residency Programs within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. The programs allow community members, current CMCSS employees, and high school seniors a non-traditional approach to becoming a teacher.

“It’s about investing in your own community with an apprenticeship approach to developing teachers,” stated Dr. Sean Impeartrice, Chief Academic Officer for CMCSS.

Residents work towards their licensure, degree, and/or certification while gaining first-hand experience as an Educational Assistant within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. This experience provides instructional and non-instructional support to students while learning best practices for a career in education from a certified CMCSS educator.

Now in its third year of the program, CMCSS has partnered with several colleges and universities in the surrounding area, including Austin Peay State University, Nashville State Community College, and Lipscomb University. Residents incur no expenses for tuition or textbooks.

“We are proactively addressing the national teacher shortage,” said Dr. Phyllis Casebolt, Director of Federal Projects, including the Teacher Residency Programs. “These programs provide residents an opportunity to work with high-performing teachers while completing the requirements to earn a teaching license.  Wrap-around supports are in place to ensure the academic success of the residents.  Our district recognizes the positive impact of employees committed to meeting the needs of all students.”

There are three teacher residency pathways available for the 2021-2022 school year: Early-Learning Teacher Residency in partnership with Nashville State Community College and Austin Peay State University, Lipscomb Teacher Residency, and Lipscomb Middle Teacher Residency in partnership with Lipscomb University.

Applications for community members are due February 10, 2021. High School seniors must submit their applications by March 5, 2021. All applications and required paperwork can be found on the district website, www.cmcss.net/trp.

“I’ve always had a passion for teaching since I was little. This was an excellent opportunity that I could not pass up,” said Ms. Raquel Blackley, a Teacher Resident who is currently serving at West Creek Elementary School.

Each program’s eligibility criteria and requirements can be found on the district website, www.cmcss.net/trp, along with videos and links to frequently asked questions. For more information, email the Teacher Pipeline Facilitators at [email protected].


October 9th, 2020

TNPromise Scholarship Applications Due Nov. 2, 2020

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (October 7, 2020) – tnAchieves, the local partnering organization for TN Promise, which provides two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee, is looking for both high school applicants and mentors to assist seniors in pursuing higher education. In Clarksville-Montgomery County, both the number of students who have applied for the scholarship and the adult mentors has seen a significant drop in 2020. 

TNPromise Applicants

The deadline for high school seniors submitting a TN Promise application is November 2, 2020. Due to disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, most Tennessee high schools are significantly behind last year’s TN Promise application rate. High school seniors who are interested should complete the TN Promise application, submit a FAFSA, and apply to a college.

Tennessee high school seniors can submit a TN Promise application by visiting www.TNPromise.gov and applying online.

As indicated, the scholarship will provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee. Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not met by Pell, Hope, or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award. As part of the program, students will be paired with a partnering organization, provided with a mentor who will support them during the college application process and complete the community service requirement. 

Mentor a High School Senior

tnAchieves, the local partnering organization for TN Promise, needs volunteers to serve as mentors for the Class of 2021. tnAchieves mentors will serve their community virtually, working with local students to offer support throughout the college-going process.

TN Promise allows any graduating high school senior the opportunity to attend a community or technical college tuition and mandatory fee-free. Many of the students will be the first in their family to attend college and may also need some additional, non-financial support. tnAchieves provides this support by pairing each scholarship applicant with a volunteer mentor. The program needs more than 9,000 mentors across the state!

tnAchieves mentors spend about one hour per month working with a group of students to help them achieve their college-going goals. In 2021, mentors will serve their students using tnAchieves CONNECT. tnAchieves CONNECT is a new virtual mentoring tool that allows mentors to remain connected to their students in a safe, online environment. It will also enable mentors to serve from their home and on their schedule!

Mentors remind students of important deadlines, serve as a trusted college resource and, most importantly, encourage students to reach their full potential. While the time commitment is small, the impact on the students can be life-changing. To learn more and apply, you can visit www.tnachieves.org/mentors/apply or contact Tyler Ford at [email protected] or (309) 945-3446