KINGSPORT — The Kingsport City Schools Education Foundation on Thursday afternoon approved grants to three teachers in the district for innovative classroom projects. The grants still must be formally accepted by the Board of Education in January.

The recipients are teacher Kelly Hernandez of Roosevelt Elementary School, Bryan Kerns of Dobyns-Bennett High and Wendy Jones-Harrison of Jackson Elementary.


The KCS Foundation was started in 2018 by Pat Turner, long-time board member and former president of the Board of Education. Former city manager Jeff Fleming was recruited as a volunteer administrator shortly after his retirement in 2019.

“When I saw who was on the board — Jeanette Blazier, Lynn Johnson, CeeGee McCord and Wally Boyd — I knew I wanted to help in any way I could,” Fleming said. “We were able to recruit Tammie Davis, Dr. Brenda White-Wright and Fred Wallin to round out the board. It’s a great group of advocates for our school system,” he added.


“Tax-funded budgets are getting tighter and tighter and many people want to help classroom teachers on the front lines, they just don’t know how,” foundation chairwoman Pat Turner said.

“We’ve been able to raise more than $140,000 in two years. To date, it’s been entirely personal donations — no businesses or corporations. That’s how strongly people feel about public education in Kingsport,” Turner said. “Our schools are our future and supporting classroom teachers is the key to our success.”


The Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that can accept many forms of donations of cash and assets. “We welcome small and large gifts. The benefits go directly to classroom teachers in Kingsport City Schools,” Fleming said. “Donation of stocks can be very beneficial for tax-planning purposes. We even have an Amazon Smile account. Every little bit helps.”

For more information, contact Fleming at (423) 914-9530, visit or email Or you can send checks to: Kingsport City Schools Education Foundation,400 Clinchfield Street, Suite 201, Kingsport, TN 37660-3771

MORE ABOUT THIS YEAR’S GRANT RECIPIENTS: Sensory Steamroller, Kelly Hernandez

Roosevelt Elementary is working to equip its designated sensory room with needed therapy equipment to help students be more successful in the classroom.

Having this equipment can be the difference in a student staying at school or needing to leave school when they are overwhelmed. It is estimated that 5% to 16% of school age children have a processing disorder and 1 in 59 students is on the autism scale.

Many students with autism or a sensory processing disorder crave deep pressure. The Steamroller is a way they can get the deep pressure independently and learn to self soothe. The equipment will accommodate every child in Roosevelt’s K-5 population.

Fire Ecology Research Project on Wildfire Behavior, Bryan Kerns

Dobyns-Bennett has a unique program in wildland fire training that allows students to explore careers in firefighting and managing our natural resources. The grant provides funding for equipment. Dobyns-Bennett is in one of the first schools to offer a prescribed fire module to help inspire younger generations in exciting careers in natural resources.

Connecting With Circuits, Wendy Jones-Harrison

Jackson Elementary’s third-grade students have an opportunity to develop an understanding of electrical energy by designing, creating and testing their own electrical circuit projects.

The students use engineering principles to plan, test and redesign for improvements, if needed. It’s an exciting opportunity for students to practically learn about energy and matter.

For more information, go online to