Martial arts expert instills confidence and respect into students
Al Lesar, Shopper News
Training fighters isn’t Lance England’s goal as a martial arts instructor.
An instructor since the mid-’90s, England has used martial arts as a method of instilling confidence and respect — along with a dose of discipline — into his students.
“If a youngster runs into a bully, a punch in the nose can work,” said England. “I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think it’s legal for a 16-, 17-, 18- or 19-year-old to punch someone for an insult.
“Let’s say you have a hammer in your toolbox. It works great on a nail. But, if you want to adjust the carburetor, not so great. You need more tools in your toolbox. If you can’t step up and express yourself — verbal or written — you won’t be a success as a professional, intelligent person.”
A 24-year veteran of teaching in the Knox County Schools, with college degrees in pre-physical therapy and exercise science, England was a medic in the U.S. Army reserve (with two tours of active duty), and then got himself attached to a marksmanship team as a competitor and an instructor.
All that before discovering the martial arts in the early ’80s.
In 1995, England began teaching credit and noncredit martial arts classes at the University of Tennessee. After a few years, he chose to take the noncredit classes off campus.
Now, he teaches classes Thursdays and Saturdays at the Knoxville Martial Arts Center (7544 Oak Ridge Highway). All age groups are welcome to the variety of offerings.
England, who has been trained by Dale Kirby — regarded as one of the top instructors in the country — offers an opportunity to take a class or two before any financial arrangements are made.
“One of the worst things that have happened has been a large number of individuals who figure out if they’re a good salesman, they can make a lot of money in martial arts,” England said. “Not all instructors have quality martial arts to teach.
“People don’t realize what they’ve gotten themselves into until they’ve signed a long-term contract. I’m not the right instructor for everyone. I want people to visit. Do their homework. So many don’t want to do that.”
Fundamentals are key
While training under Kirby, England said he had a heart-to-heart talk with him.
“He changed my manner of thinking and approach to training,” said England. “It involved a lot of detail.
“I commented on his advanced skill in the samurai sword. He said, ‘If you want to do what I do, then, do what I do.’ I was able to get the nitty-gritty of his training methodologies. I improved a great deal with him.”
England, who wouldn’t admit to an age but said only “I’m a very mature individual with a gray beard,” said that his advancement as an instructor and experience of more than 40 years are still based on a foundation of the fundamentals.
“I heard (former NFL start quarterback) Peyton Manning say that all throughout his career he was still doing the same footwork drills he did as a freshman (at Tennessee),” England said. “You’re never so advanced in martial arts that you don’t need the basics.”
For more information, contact England at: email@example.com, or lanceenglandmartialarts.com.
A teachers' teacher retires: Montgomery never lost zeal for profession
John Shearer, Shopper News
After 39 years, Lori Montgomery has still not lost the enthusiasm of being an elementary educator and working with eager students and fellow teachers.
But this year after serving as an instructional coach at Ball Camp Elementary for the last 10 years, she has decided to retire from the profession she has loved and get ready to be a future grandmother and travel some.
“I am going to miss it, but I am excited to move on to the next chapter,” she said.
For Montgomery, teaching has been a lot of fun, saying she has always enjoyed planning and being creative. As a result, it was never hard deciding which profession she wanted to enter, saying that had been her career plan since she was in high school in Iowa.
After she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and she and her husband, Dale, moved to Houston, Texas, she got a job teaching kindergarten for a half day at Ascension Episcopal School there.
She taught Kobe Bryant
As it turned out, one of her students she taught the ABCs to would one day end up being pretty good at shooting the 3’s. She had as a student that first year future NBA star Kobe Bryant, who went on to star for the Los Angeles Lakers before his tragic death in a helicopter crash in early 2020.
“He was a good student and fun loving and a little mischievous,” she recalled, adding that his father, Joe, was playing for the Houston Rockets at the time and that Kobe had two slightly older sisters at the school, too. “I always wanted to reach out to him and tell him how proud I was of him.”
With her enthusiasm remaining high about teaching, she followed her husband’s engineering-related work to Delaware, where she was named teacher of the year in her district as a second-grade teacher.
About two decades ago, she and her husband moved to Knoxville, where she first worked at Beaumont Magnet School and Hardin Valley Elementary before becoming an instructional coach in 2003.
She said that as an elementary teacher at all her stops, she taught all grades except fourth, but primarily first and second grade. Despite the different levels, the enjoyment was the same because of the enthusiasm of the students.
“To watch them be excited about learning is great,” she said. “In the early grades, they seem to soak up things. Elementary students still get excited about learning.”
As an instructional coach working with eight Knox County schools before moving to Ball Camp in the last decade, she has also enjoyed working with the teachers and staff.
Support for teachers
Her position as an instructional coach included not being an evaluator, but helping support teachers, including those who might be newer to the profession. Her work might include everything from helping them plan good solid lessons to being a good listener.
“I meet with teachers and ask them what they want to work on and go in beside them and do modeling and observe them and give feedback,” she said. “It is meant to be very positive. It is all about helping them grow so that when someone does come in and evaluate them, they have more confidence.”
She added that the greatest rewards in her role are when teachers tell her thanks and that the support has been very helpful.
Montgomery, in turn, has been thankful to have worked at Ball Camp, calling it a gem of a school. “It’s a diverse community with a lot of family support,” she said.
Despite all her enjoyment, she feels comfortable about retiring, she said. Her daughter, Madison Teagan Blackwell, is expecting a daughter, Magnolia, next month, and Montgomery wants to spend time with her future granddaughter and her mother, who is 80.
And if she had to travel down the road of education again, she surely would, she added.
“I am very proud of educators and what they do each and every day,” she said. “It is a daunting task but very rewarding and very challenging.
“Students may forget what I taught them, but they never forget how I made them feel.”
Kids pick up books and bikes for a summertime of freedom
Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News
Helen Morrow has been program assistant for Friends of Literacy (FOL) for only a month, but she was all-in for her very first event with the organization — “Books and Bikes,” held at Macedonia United Methodist Church on May 14.
“What’s greater than giving a kid a book?” she said. “What’s greater than giving a kid a bike?”
In partnership with Kickstand Community Bike Shop, FOL did both. More than 100 kids primarily from East and North Knoxville, including students from Belle Morris, Spring Hill, Sunnyview and Chilhowee elementary schools, showed up to the church’s parking lot to choose a book and get fitted for a bike.
“Every kid — when they get on a bike and start riding — has freedom, exercise, fun, enjoyment,” said Paul Laudeman, executive director of Kickstand, which offers refurbished donated bicycles and the know-how to maintain and operate them. The shop now has two locations — its original space at Fourth Presbyterian on North Broadway and now Macedonia UMC on Holston Drive.
“People can come into the shop and we’ll teach them to fix a flat or put a chain back on or whatever.”
Laudeman said it’s important for a community bike shop to focus on safety, and that anyone who wants to be a better bicycle owner should make an appointment. “We want them to be safe and enjoy the bike.”
Safety — offered in a fun, kid-friendly way — was very much at the forefront of “Books and Bikes.” The Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee provided helmets and took great care to ensure proper fit for each and every child.
Volunteers from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) even brought a brain — a squishy, rubber toy brain that the kids could examine — to emphasize how important a helmet is.
The books were just as popular, and the kids flocked to the book table, poring through the selections. “We gave every child a book for summer reading,” said Teresa Brittain, executive director of FOL. “Toward the end of the day with the ones we had left we gave more than one!”
Brittain was thrilled with the community involvement. In addition to the Epilepsy Foundation and ETCH, “Bike Walk Knoxville had a little bike safety course. Keep Knoxville Beautiful was there; they brought recycle bins because we had bottled water and we want them to go in recycling.
“Nourish Knoxville was promoting kids’ activities around the Farmers’ Market, and a friend of Paul’s has a pedal-powered carousel. We bought pizzas from Pizza Palace, so everybody got a free slice of pizza.”
This is the second “Books and Bikes” event, and they’ve been so successful that FOL plans to do them every year.
Laudeman admits that, since he started Kickstand about 15 years ago with other bike enthusiasts, he doesn’t have much time for cycling himself.
“I spend a good deal of time moving bicycles around. I would like to do more riding; I would like to have the time. But giving bikes to little kids makes up for it.”
Rebecca Burgener helps all ages express themselves in writing
Al Lesar, Shopper News
Rebecca (Branum) Burgener’s initial exposure to poetry was hardly a case of love at first sight.
The 2001 Powell High School graduate vividly remembers Kay Bartley’s freshman English class. She still gets uncomfortable when she recalls the lessons.
“We were supposed to write about emotions,” Burgener said. “Back then, it was easier not to deal with emotions.”
A creative writing class at Pellissippi State Community College, taught by Edward Francisco, was hardly a grabber back then. She finished her degree in education at Tennessee Tech, and has put it to work by homeschooling her six children, ranging in age from 17 to 2.
It was during the curriculum work that she stumbled upon a poem by Francisco, “(Lie)fe Boat.”
“I never really thought about it then,” Burgener said. “But, the political situation we have now, that poem is so relevant. It has a whole different meaning for me.”
This re-awakening for the written word has motivated Burgener to offer Poetry Tea Time to anyone in the community, regardless of age.
Burgener moved with her family to Powell when she was 8 years old. That’s just about the time she decided she was going to be a writer.
“I heard an interview of a writer (she didn’t know who it was) and decided then (she didn’t remember why) that’s what I wanted to be,” she said. “Right away, I needed a story to write.”
At the time, she was involved with the “Polly, Pete and Pixie” children’s books. Burgener said she crafted her own tale, “Polly, Pete and Pixie Go Mountain Climbing.”
“It wasn’t very good,” she said. “But it was fun.”
She never strayed far from her passion. Once Burgener became involved with the homeschool community, she offered to teach creative writing at the group’s co-op once a week.
“We’ve done poetry and it’s gone well,” Burgener said. “Once we tried novel writing, but no one finished. The time needed outside of class was too much. Getting poetry done during class was just right.”
There was a hint of pride when Burgener talked about the writing prowess of her 17-year-old daughter.
Just for fun, her daughter created a character who was adopted by the Weasley family, a girl who was a little older than Harry Potter.
“It was a completely different storyline, and it was actually pretty good,” Burgener said. “I could tell she has a good handle on storytelling.”
That’s the type of result that Burgener is hoping to see from the lessons that she’s teaching for an hour every Monday, starting at 4 p.m., at Northfork Community Hub.
“We plan on getting into different kinds of poetry during the six weeks,” Burgener said.
“We’ll see where the next six weeks can take us. Whether it’s poetry, short fiction or any other forms of creative writing. There are so many options available.”
Burgener said the classes she teaches can be easily adapted to any age group. For more information, contact Burgener on Facebook. Cost of each six-week session is $50.
At the end of the six weeks, Burgener said she buys each student’s best work for $1, then puts them into a book. That way, the students can say they sold their work and are published authors.
Girls Scout Troop 20496 is Disney World-bound
Nancy Anderson, Shopper News
It was a small but mighty gang of Girl Scouts from Troop 20496, Karns and Hardin Valley, washing a steady stream of cars at Advance Auto Parts in Karns on May 15.
The girls are determined to raise money for a trip to Disney World this June.
“It’s the last trip for many of our girls,” said Co-Troop Leader Sharon Brown. “We have four graduating next year and three the year after that. Many of these girls have been together since kindergarten or first or second grade. They’ve developed lifelong friendships. I think they are due one last great trip together.”
The girls washed cars with helpful attitudes while singing Disney tunes.
The girls are not ones to sit back on their laurels. They work hard during cookie season and participate in a number of community service projects throughout the year.
This year, in addition to their regular duties, they raised money for their Disney World trip with another car wash last fall, and Merry Messages at Christmas.
Merry Messages — “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holiday” signs strategically placed in a front yard for a small fee — was a big success.
For Girl Scout Amelia Brown, the Scouting experience is serious business with lots of fun thrown in.
“I’ve met my very best friends in this group. I’ve been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and it has taught me how to be a better person, how to give back to my community, and how to be a leader. I can’t wait for Disney; it’s our last trip together because lots of us are graduating next year after being together for 12 years,” she said.
Currently, the girls have raised enough to make the basic trip, but need to cover incidentals like parking and transportation.
To donate to Girl Scout Troop 20496, Venmo Jennifer-Warren-9106
Info: Email Jennifer Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time is a mercurial companion
Leslie Snow, Shopper News
We met in an English class when I was just 20 years old. I dropped my books off at an empty desk my sophomore year of college and went to get a drink from the water fountain.
A girl from class saw me in the hall and said, “Let’s sit by the cute guy.” I didn’t need to ask who she meant.
Thirty-eight years later, I’m still sitting next to the cute guy. And for the last few weeks, I’ve been busy planning a party to celebrate his sixth decade of life. I don’t know where all the time went.
When I was little, the school year was a slog. The months between the first day of class and the last seemed endless. I remember counting the days on a calendar, willing time to pass.
How long until fall break? When will winter vacation arrive? How many more days can I survive until summer finally comes and frees me from the drudgery? Not that school was so bad, it was just ceaseless.
And when summer finally arrived with its vivid greens and its hazy blue skies, I would be full of joy, but only for a while. After a week or two, I would find myself longing for my friends and the busy routine of the school day. There were only so many games of hopscotch I could play, only so many hours of jump-rope to keep me amused until the sun got too hot and the days grew too long.
I missed passing notes to my best friend, Evy. I missed talking about parties and football games. It was always disappointing to discover that the lazy days of summer that I longed for during the cold winter months passed just as slowly as the school year. Summer was just another sort of slog.
I assumed that’s how things would always be between time and me, that it would continue to drag on and keep me longing for the next big thing.
What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t predict when I was younger, is that my relationship with time would change as I aged.
When you’re an adult, time doesn’t drag, it flies. One holiday runs seamlessly into the next. The Fourth of July ushers in Thanksgiving. New Year’s Eve kickstarts spring and the start of summer.
Life becomes one long blur of ordinary days and big events that come together to form a year. There’s no more counting days and longing for the year to end. Because 365 days passes in a minute.
That’s why being married for 35 years feels like a surprise to me. It’s why my husband’s 60th birthday seems like it’s happening too soon.
My kids are grown and out of the house, but it still feels like I should be rushing to the carpool line to pick them up from Farragut Primary. We should be watching Jordan ride a pony or getting ready to see Zack and Ethan play in a soccer tournament. We should be worried about our children's SAT scores and getting into college, not planning for retirement.
But here we are, a nice gray-haired couple hosting a big family party. I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure how my children grew up and got married. How my dad turned 94 and my mother 89. How we became grandparents.
Time is playing tricks on me. It’s a mercurial companion that’s hard to comprehend. It can make a lifetime pass in a minute, and a minute waiting for the microwave last a lifetime.
Leslie Snow may be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community