CA Blog

Junior Kindergarten

April 18, 2017
By Lynette Fowler, Pre-K Director
Junior Kindergarten at Cornerstone Academy

Written by Lynette Fowler, Pre-K Director


What is Junior Kindergarten?

Junior kindergarten is a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. It is the best of both worlds. It has the flexible learning schedule of preschool while learning kindergarten material through songs and movement. It allows our junior learners an extra year of growth and maturity before entering the more challenging years of traditional schooling.

 “Junior Kindergarten offers solid foundational skills needed to be successful in the Kindergarten setting. Phonics and Math skills are a large focus, using hands-on learning. This class is a step above Pre-K, offering social and academic challenges that help students prepare for Kindergarten.”

-  Shannon Key, Junior Kindergarten Teacher

Who would benefit from Junior Kindergarten?

As more research surfaces about young learners, we are finding that there isn’t a magical age that ensures students’ success in school. The stereotype of always beginning kindergarten ‘’at age five’’ is slowly changing. Some students aren’t ready, and that’s okay! When deciding if traditional kindergarten is best, parents are mindful of their child’s personality, maturity, and physical age.


Why is Junior Kindergarten Important?

This class is important because it gives a child the precious gift of time. Giving this gift of an extra year, allows a child to develop emotionally and physically.

“The milestones are so numerous during the early four to five years. One very big difference is the ability to follow directions. Students who just turned five are often still working on one step directions, where a child that is an older five can be given multiple directions at one time. Fine motor skills, like working with a small task such as cutting or holding a pencil, are also still maturing during the four to five years. Older fives have time to strengthen important needed muscles in the hands to complete school tasks successfully.”

-  Shannon Key, Junior Kindergarten Teacher

Meet our Teacher, Shannon Key                                                  

Shannon Key taught at Dandridge Elementary for eight years before staying home with her two boys. This is her second year teaching at Cornerstone. She and her family attend First Baptist Church of  Morristown. Her love for this age group is tangible, and her teaching strengths are plentiful: art, sign language, and sensory (hands-on fun) learning.

“I love my job! For children, there is so much to learn during these early years of development. Students are trained in skills that many older students and adults may take for granted: how to hold a pencil, cut, and follow multi-step directions. It is such a blessing to help them gain knowledge and skills.”



Cornerstone Academy is Currently Enrolling for our Junior Kindergarten class. Spots are limited.

More Questions?

Contact Lynette Fowler, Pre-K Director



Teaching Preschoolers God's Character

February 15, 2017
By Lynette Fowler, Pre-Kindergarten Director

One of my favorite things about teaching preschoolers is their love for every celebration. It doesn’t matter how small or large the event their excitement is contagious. One of our favorite monthly traditions in Pre-Kindergarten is to celebrate a specific color.

“We celebrate all the colors of the rainbow. We celebrate the orange. We celebrate the red. We celebrate the blue because they are all so beautiful.”

                                                                                                -Harper, age 4

Why Celebrate Color?

Color parades God’s character. God considers color significant. He made it on the very first day of Creation.  When God said, “Let there be light.” He created the light spectrum (Genesis 1:3). We call light, when refracted, a rainbow. It was designed with seven distinct colors and thousands of different shades and hues. The rainbow is a perfect illustration of God’s character. It allows us to see how orderly and creative He is.   

Why do we celebrate color with our young students? Wendy, a student, simply said, “Because God made colors.” We celebrate colors to bring Him glory. What an amazing God to bring such beautiful color into a dark world!

How We Celebrate Color:

We admire Christ using color in different ways...

1.)    We choose one color to focus on each month, and it usually connects to a holiday. For example, the color orange is celebrated the entire month of October. Thanksgiving is always surrounded by hues of brown. Pink is a fun pigment in February.

2.)    We look at God’s creation to find our featured monthly color. We look through books, magazines, and pictures to find items that God designed to be that specific color. Students are amazed by God’s creativity when shown creatures made of different hues. Did you know there was a blue tarantula?

3.)    Influenced by the classical approach, we sing songs about the featured color.

4.)    We do crafts, go on scavenger hunts, and make collages.

5.)    We party. We start our parties with a color themed snack. Harper, a preschool student says, “[I like] having blue berries; having muffins; having grapes. I love eating my favorite colors.” We ate blueberries, blue jello, and blue tortilla chips for Blue Day. Orange Day was really fun with oranges, candy pumpkins, and carrots.

May our students always see God’s glory even in the simple colors of the rainbow.

Why Choose Pre-K at CA?

July 13, 2016
By Lynette Fowler

Why Choose Pre-Kindergarten at Cornerstone Academy?

We wanted a place that would encourage loving the Lord, manners, hard work, respectfulness, a family centered dynamic, and strong academics.

– Ashley Williams (Pre-K Parent)

  1. Biblical Instruction: Our students are taught Bible daily; however Christ and His teachings are implemented in our instruction in every subject. For example, when learning about triangles, our class might also learn about The Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We learned about the twelve disciples during our Community Helpers week. It was a great connection for our young minds to realize that Jesus had helpers, just like we have people in our community to help us.
  2. Power of Play: Preschoolers love to play. It’s an important part of their development and how they learn. We use toys in our teaching instruction to help increase vocabulary and inspire learning. For example, during our Zoo Unit we built zoos with building blocks and Legos. They were given animals to put in their exhibits. Without realizing it, students started using math skills as they asked questions like: “Which zoo is longest? shortest? tallest?" They also found themselves building vocabulary and practicing fine-motor skills. This is a valuable learning opportunity that our young learners love.  
  3. Phonics Based: We learn one letter a week based around a specific theme: H is for harvest, I for insect, T for transportation, etc. This strategy allows us to focus on the letter and really emphasize what each letter looks like, how it is pronounced, and what sound it makes. We also learn how to write and sign the letter with our hands. Learning one letter a week is a slow process; however it lays a beautiful foundation for learning to read.
  4. Qualified Teaching Staff:  The Lord has really blessed us with an incredible teaching staff. All teachers have a teaching license and/or degree. Many of our teachers have different strengths and backgrounds. Mrs. Shannon Key taught for 8 years as a Special Ed. Teacher and has a strong teaching emphasis in Phonics. Mrs. Lynette Fowler, Director and Teacher, has a strong math and science background and brings that skill set into our classrooms.


"We chose CA because we were looking for a school that would reinforce values that we teach at home. We are very intentional about the people we place in the lives of our children when they are young. We know that the teachers at CA are people who will not only educate them to the highest standard but will also work alongside us as parents to shape and mold our children’s character."

- Caroline Kelly (Pre-K Parent)

  1. Sign Language: We love teaching our little learners sign language. Sign Language helps develop fine motor skills. By moving their hands in different ways, they are developing muscles that will help them hold pencils later on in their educational career.

  1. Music Instruction: I cannot sing the praises and benefits of music enough in a classroom. Most of our content and classroom procedures are learned through songs. In Math, we use songs to learn the formation of numbers, and in Science, types of dinosaurs. Phonics, letters and sounds are taught through music. Students are learning enormous amounts of information without the restrictions of deskwork. We have very cheerful classrooms full of music and movement.


"Jordyn loved the songs, bible verses and all the activities"

- Tonya Richards (Pre-K Parent)

  1. Extra-Curricular Activities: Part of our daily schedule is Physical Education or Music taught by a trained teacher. Physical Education is a wonderful addition to our program that develops gross-motor skills (balance and core strength). Another part of our program is class with our music teacher. She focuses on the basics and foundations of music, such as rhythm and beat.  Our school also offers violin lessons.
  2. Community: The environment that God orchestrates in our building is my favorite part of our program.  Every administrator, teacher, aide, parent volunteer, and office staff member has been placed here by God to interact with our students in such a way that points them to Christ. Another benefit of being a part of a larger school (CA is Pre-K through 12th grade) is that we have older students who love our youngest school members. Middle school students come into our classroom to read books and play puzzles, while high school students may come to model prayer.  Our younger learners love when older students interact with them. It’s exciting to learn from other kids!


"We also loved that with this school EVERYONE is involved with our child's future."

- Tonya Richards (Pre-K Parent)


  1. Affordable and Available- Our four-year-old class is less expensive than most daycares in the area - and with the same flexible hours. Our doors open at 7:30 am for parents that need to attend work; however, school starts at 8:00 am. We have flexible hours with pick-up times at noon or 3:00 pm. We also offer AfterCare until 5:30 pm. For more information on our schedules and pricing, please check out our website.


These are only a few reasons to love our school, and it doesn’t give God the recognition He so rightly deserves for inspiring and creating an atmosphere of the working body of Christ. If you want a school that loves children, loves teaching, and continually points their students to Christ, consider Cornerstone Academy.

(This article was not only written by a Pre-K Director and Teacher, but also a mother of a Pre-K student.)

Tags: Classical, Pre-K

I Love Reading Shakespeare

June 24, 2016
By Chelsea Carrier

5 Reasons I Love Reading Shakespeare with Middle School Students

Chelsea L. Carrier


When my 7th and 8th grade students first hear that we’re going to read Shakespeare, many slouch in their chairs, groan, gag, and roll their eyes. But each time we open A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, they find out how accessible and enjoyable the Bard can be, and I’m reminded of five reasons I love reading Shakespeare with my middle school students.

1. It’s accessible.

In honor of the Bard’s death on April 23rd, my students and I drank tea, ate donuts, and read a few sonnets. Then they had a challenge: write a sonnet in 10-15 minutes. The form might not have been as precise as the bard’s, but hopefully the resulting verses dedicated to potatoes and sushi not only helped them remember the rhyme scheme and standard lengths of a Shakespearean sonnet, but enabled them to recognize Shakespeare as something they could regard with a bit more familiarity than fear.

2. It’s challenging.

Language has changed dramatically over the past four-hundred years. Not only does Shakespeare's language include archaic words, but poetic devices. Add that to the fact that we are reading aloud, something not everyone enjoys. Both drama and Shakespeare require a level of vulnerability - everyone feels awkward and self-conscious, and sharing that draws us closer together. In fact, I probably hear more encouraging remarks among the students to each other during this time because for once, all of them are intimidated by the reading, and it brings them together.

3. It’s relational.

Since my students are encountering Shakespeare for the first time, we read the plays together in class. They love this, if for no other reason than they don’t have homework. As we read, I often stop them so we can discuss, and while many times the pauses enable us to clarify the basic plot or highlight a witty comment, we are also able to reflect and sympathize with the characters’ experiences, both tragic and comedic.  

4. It's physical.

Drama is the marriage of the abstract and the concrete, the literary example of the Word becoming flesh. Plays are meant to be performed, so when we read, we don’t simply sit around the room and read parts. We move the tables and chairs aside, do a few drama warm-ups (voice exercises, tongue twisters, and concentration games) and then we perform an informal dramatic reading. Sometimes I’ll stop the students in the middle of their reading, and we’ll discuss what the character would be doing in that moment, and then we back up and actually do it.

5. It’s enjoyable.

What? Yes, actually, during these weeks multiple students come in and ask, with anticipation in their voices, “Are we going to read Shakespeare today?

Ten Mile Markers Along the Road to College

February 05, 2016
By Lynn Hicks

Ten Mile Markers Along the Road to College

by Lynn S. Hicks, College and Career Counselor


I can remember feeling fear, trepidation and excitement all knotted together in my stomach as my mother and I set out across the southeast to visit more than ten colleges during the fall of my junior year in high school. Some schools were higher on the list of priorities, so we scheduled formal tours and admissions office interviews. Some schools held intrigue and mystery which necessitated a drive through campus just to experience the ambiance of a large state school or the wonder of an ivy league university. At that point, I’m not sure which made a bigger impression ­­ -- the schools we visited or the delicious food we savored along the way! I can vividly remember standing on the campus of Furman University in front of the front gate fountain and thinking with extreme clarity the following words from scripture, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21). Was it the beauty of the campus, the small sense of community, or the emphasis on academic excellence? All of those factors were true but I just knew it was the “right fit” for the next four years of my academic career. For my mother, I seriously think it was the huge iron gate surrounding the entire campus including a guard gate station monitoring everyone entering and leaving!  I had a peace and assurance in my heart:  Furman was my next home.


At Cornerstone Academy, we equip our high school students with the tools necessary in order to choose the best college for their individual needs. Colleges are becoming increasingly more competitive and more expensive. Therefore, it is important for each student to find the “best fit” in order to maximize their funds and minimize time enrolled. Cornerstone has implemented a program called College and Career Pathways to assist students on this journey. This program guides and prepares our students through the decision-­making and college acceptance process.


  1. In August, juniors, seniors, and their parents attend an informational college and career meeting.  Students receive timelines stating specific tasks to be accomplished in each month.
  2. In the fall, juniors and seniors attend the college fair hosted by Carson Newman in order to speak with admissions representatives from over seventy colleges and universities. The students evaluate these schools on factors including size, geographic location, cost, private/public, Christian values, sports, majors offered etc.
  3. We encourage students to attend preview days hosted by their top three to five college choices beginning the fall semester of their junior year. This gives the student a personal representation of what it would be like to be a student on that campus.
  4. The guidance office provides ongoing one­-on­-one counsel and assistance as students apply to colleges of their choice and pursue various scholarships. Students identify their academic strengths and weaknesses. They also explore their own career interests (as reported on the ACT interest inventory) as they compare to other professionals in various career fields.
  5. Juniors complete an autobiographical sketch in order to begin organizing their extra­curricular activities, clubs, honors/awards, leadership and service activities. This form assists the student in completing college applications and also to assist teachers and staff in writing letters of recommendation.
  6. In order to assess academic strengths and weaknesses, students complete a battery of standardized tests.

High school testing sequence:

  • In the spring, sophomores take the ACT Plan to prepare for the ACT.

  • In October, juniors take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT as well as to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship.

  • Juniors and seniors are instructed to register for multiple ACT dates in order to achieve the highest score possible.

  1. Cornerstone offers dual enrollment courses through Bryan college for college credit. The Dual Enrollment Grant funds these classes with certain limits and criteria. Cornerstone Academy faculty teach these classes on our campus. Students may also enroll in dual enrollment courses after school hours at WSCC. These opportunities allow the student to accrue college credits with minimal financial commitment and to enter college with a jump start on college hours.
  2. The guidance office sends transcripts and letters of recommendation on behalf of the student.
  3. Students must complete fifteen hours of community service per high school year which comprise a blend of school, community, and church based service.
  4. We encourage students to meet TN Promise deadlines for applications, meetings, FAFSA, and service hours. This government scholarship will pay for any student enrolled in an AA program for two years at a participating community college or four year university up to $4,000 last dollar (after all other scholarships have been applied).

Now, as the mother of a senior, I have a whole new perspective on this road trip to college. No longer am I the senior making the “best fit” college choice, but instead I hold the role of a praying parent for my daughter to capture God’s vision for the next season of her life. It is our mission at Cornerstone Academy to prepare our students for the future by providing them with a Christ-­centered, classical education that equips them to achieve academic excellence and spiritual maturity.

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Recent Posts

4/18/17 - By Lynette Fowler, Pre-K Director
2/15/17 - By Lynette Fowler, Pre-Kindergarten Director
7/13/16 - By Lynette Fowler
6/24/16 - By Chelsea Carrier
2/5/16 - By Lynn Hicks


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