Funding for the presents provided
by Schnabel Engineering and CCWF


16th Annual
Coal Creek Scholars Day
& goodies from Santa

(It was Pajama Day at Briceville School)

18 December 2017


 View ALL the pictures at



The Coal Creek Scholars program began as a dream for an unbroken circle where Briceville students can participate in K-12 community service projects to celebrate their heritage and qualify for college scholarships.  In return, they agree to inspire Briceville fourth and fifth graders to continue that tradition.

The unbroken circle was on display today when thirteen college students or graduates from Briceville told this year’s fourth and fifth graders the importance of going to college during the 16th annual Coal Creek Scholars Day event.  Casey Swindall, Frances-Lee Dougherty, and Kyle Leinart told how their college degrees have enabled them to own their own businesses, thus helping them live the American Dream.    

Jessica Hayes McKinney (lower right) conducting research
in 2007 at East TN History Center


Amy Crabtree told how she is able to manage a career and a family as a result of the mutual respect she has with her boss.  When she had her first child, Amy went to her boss and asked if an arrangement could be worked out to enable her to work part-time in her job as a therapist, so she could spend more time with her family.  Her boss went to bat for her to make it happen due to the trust and respect they share.         

After Jonathan Towe described his experience at medical school, a student asked if seeing body parts grossed him out.  He said that’s the price you pay in saving lives.  It’s why doctors command such high respect in society. 

Peyton Jenkins described how he has always been intrigued with space travel, which is why he is using his Coal Creek scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee to study aeronautical engineering.  

Jessica Hayes McKinney told how she used her Coal Creek scholarship to go to East Tennessee State University—she is now the fifth-grade teacher at Briceville School.  Jessica was a fifth-grade student when we first assessed the health of Coal Creek by documenting what lives in it in August 2000 during a visit by Congressman Zach Wamp.  The following spring, her class was recognized for documenting Coal Creek history in a Resolution from the Tennessee Senate.  She qualified for her scholarship by conducting research to assist Dr. Eirug Davies of Harvard University in his book, “The Welsh of Tennessee.”  As a graduate of Briceville School with a Master’s degree in education, she is uniquely qualified for her current position—you can’t ask for a better role model than that for Briceville students.   

2001 TN Senate Resolution recognizing the preservation
of Coal Creek History by Briceville Fifth grade
students, including Jessica Hayes McKinney

Frances-Lee Braden Daugherty

Briceville School’s technology teacher Janis Bishop asked scholars if you need to be the smartest in your class to go to college, prompting them to respond in unison, “No.”  Developing good study habits to earn good grades is important, but so is treating others with respect.  When you are applying to college or for a job, you will be asked to provide references.  How you treat others will likely be the determining factor in whether you receive a positive or negative recommendation.  Disrespectful students will never live the American Dream, regardless of their grades.

Technology teacher Janis Bishop

Our very 1st Coal Creek Scholar Amy Dugger Crabtree

Casey Prosise Swindell

Anna Braden speaking to students

Jonathan Towe speaks to students about attending medical school

Scholar Andy Harness

Andy Harness described how his degree enables him to provide a valuable service to his community as illustrated by the mini-documentary he produced for the Coal Creek Miners Museum and the video “Celebrating 16 Years with the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.”  

Drew Payne and Emily Hayes told how life has a way of throwing you a curve, but that’s no excuse for losing sight of your goal to finish college. Having to take time off from college makes you appreciate the advantages of life with a college degree.    

Over $400,000 has been invested in college scholarships to help 48 Coal Creek Scholars from Briceville go to college.  Coal Creek Scholars are current and future nurses, engineers, doctors, teachers, therapists, scientists, lawyers, business leaders, business owners, as well as medical/computer/artistic specialists.  Scholars in attendance today included Amy (Dugger) Crabtree, Casey (Prosise) Swindall, Frances-Lee (Braden) Dougherty, Andy Harness, Jessica (Hayes) McKinney, Phillip Smith, Kyle Leinart, Jonathan Towe, Emily (Patton) Hayes, Drew Payne, Peyton Jenkins, Anna Braden, and Katie Tidwell. 


Briceville students touched our hearts today by presenting us with
a HUGE Christmas card signed by each student at the school.  


Afterwards, the Coal Creek Scholars served as Santa’s helpers in delivering toys to all the good little boys and girls at Briceville School.  PLUS, the Briceville School staff brought in all kinds of homemade goodies and FED the Scholars!  When someone feeds you…that is LOVE!

Thanks to Briceville native Jeannie Ahrens for helping
Santa with the third grade goodies... in honor
of her third grade granddaughter.

Scholars were fed homemade goodies
from the school staff!

Scholar Emily Patton Hayes


Scholar Drew Payne

Barry  Thacker speaks to students about RESPECT

Scholar Kyle Leinart told us about owning his own business

Kyle Leinart, Amy Dugger Crabtree, Peyton
Jenkins and Anna Braden

Scholar Peyton Jenkins

Anna Braden, Drew Payne, Emily Patton Hayes
and Andy Harness

Scholars Emily Patton Hayes, Andy Harness, Jonathan Towe
and Casey Prosise Swindell

Scholars Katie Tidwell & Phillip Smith

Scholar Phillip Smith

5th grade teacher and Scholar Jessica Hayes McKinney
A great role model for Briceville students

Carol Moore with 4th grade teacher Loren Forgety

Carol Moore and Barry Thacker with
1st grade teacher Melissa Fleming

Principal Travis Hutchison with one of the students

Peyton Jenkins
Merry Christmas!!!

 View ALL the pictures at


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