FBI Knoxville
Public Affairs Specialist Joyce McCants
(865) 544-0751
April 3, 2017

Laschinski Emerson Selected to Receive the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Renae McDermott, Knoxville Division, will present Laschinski Emerson with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA), on April 3, 2017 at 4:00 p.m., at Austin East High School, 2800 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37914.

Since 1990, the FBI DCLA has been a principal means by which the FBI has publicly recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations that make extraordinary contributions to their community relative to education, crime and violence prevention, and more. Each of the FBI’s field offices selects one individual or organization each year to receive this award. Laschinski Emerson was selected for her outstanding contribution for the establishment of A1 Learning Connection, which provides an after school program for Vine Middle and Austin-East High School in Knoxville, TN.

Emerson established A1 Learning Connection in 2012 and transitioned it to a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit, after-school teaching institute for at risk youth; and named it The S. M A. R T. (Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology) Institute. The S. M. A. R T. Institute is approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learners, to provide tutorial and enrichment services in Tennessee.

The mission of the S.M.A.R.T. Institute is to help make children more competitive in the classroom and to improve their quality of life by exposing them to the world of math, science, the arts, and more.

The after school program provides tutorial and enrichment for subjects that students are currently enrolled in test taking and writing strategies, and other real-world classes. They are also exposed to classes they may otherwise never have access to such as learning a foreign language or learning the art of chess. Also, the STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math education is a major focus of the program, and they have formed a robotics club that has made it to local competitions.

The program currently serves students at Austin-East High School and Vine Middle School.

The instructors are all degreed, experienced, and dedicated teachers and professionals that help support the following classes: Basic Money Management, Nutrition and Culinary Arts, Dance, Creative Expression, Chess Club, Keyboarding, Reading, Math, Robotics, Spanish, and more. Additionally, a monthly Street Law class is presented by the University of Tennessee Law students and Guest Speakers who present information on various topics.

Workshops are held for the parents and guardians of students enrolled in the program. The program provides financial planning, how to save and invest, relationship building, and helpful ways to build a nurturing home life to support the student.

Effective February 2016, they begin providing Youth Mental Health Services for student participants and their family as needed. They also received a grant from the Trinity Foundation for a health Initiative.

The S.M.A.R.T. Institute mentors and staff go beyond the book work. Getting through to the students in the program takes trust and mentorship, and they strive daily to enable and empower youth of today to be triumph in the world of tomorrow.

Emerson will also be recognized by FBI Director James Comey on Friday, April 28, 2017 at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.

For more information on the FBI’s Knoxville Division, visit www.fbi.gov/knoxville

Laschinski Emerson