Academies of Nashville Blog

The Academies enable students to learn through the lens of a career or academic theme in a personalized learning community. Through their academy, students are exposed to a multitude of career and college opportunities, industry skills, and potential employers by way of classroom speakers, site visits, job shadowing and internships.

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  • President Barack Obama visits the Academies of Nashville at McGavock High School
  • Students demonstrate the relevance of general education subjects through real-world application.


Internships allow student to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world.
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Job Shadowing

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing connects students with the real working world and gives them an insider's view of a profession and the everyday duties and responsibilities.
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Externships give teachers an opportunity to have a real world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum.
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Business and community partners are essential factors in preparing students for life after high school and are integral to the educational experiences students receive.
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Hispanic Heritage Month- Drawing Inspiration from Aspiring Engineers

By Rashed Fakhruddin, Engineering Supervisor, Nashville Electric Service

Through the Academies of Nashville, Metro Nashville Public Schools, in collaboration with the business community, works diligently to prepare students to graduate ready for post-secondary education and successful careers.

As an Academy business partner, Nashville Electric Service (NES) plays an important role in providing students with experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and job shadowing which assist future graduates with developing the necessary employability skills to be successful in their future careers.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to highlight two students from John Overton High School who interned with NES’ Design Engineering department through Conexión Américas ‘Escalera: Taking Steps to Success’ program, which works with young adults who will be first generation college students in their families.

Juan Martinez and Eric Jaramillo made an impression on the employees of NES during their 40-hour internship last July. They exhibited great work ethics by interning with NES for half the day and then going straight to their construction jobs immediately following.


These bright students got an overview of NES’ substation controls and communication designs. They learned about system protection and distribution planning. They visited both the test and system control departments and observed the very impressive SCADA operations center.

They were also active participants in our project meetings, including a conference call with a manufacturer that NES was working through several issues with. On the call, engineers with the manufacturer were speaking in English to us and in Spanish among themselves. Juan and Eric stepped in and translated the conversations to help clear up the previous miscommunication. Our interns became heroes overnight. This highlights the importance of speaking a second language, which is an asset of many students attending MNPS. Over 30 percent speak a second language at home and more than 100 languages are spoken by students from over 75 different countries.


Although born in the U.S., Juan and Eric are of Mexican heritage, as is NES board member, Irma Paz-Bernstein. Upon completion of their internship, Irma invited them both to her business, Las Paletas, for a visit. The next day, Irma emailed me the following message:


Dear Rashed, 

I was happy to meet with Eric & Juan. The idea of inspiring young people always moves me. The interesting thing that happens is that something magical flips things around and I am the one that walks away different.

Listening to their hopes, their stories, their situations and how ready they are to be lifted, to fly, just made my heart grow. I thank you for the opportunity to be inspired and moved.

Peace, always,



As much as we try to inspire these young adults, many times we are the ones who are changed in the process.


Tennessee Credit Union Welcomes Students to Main Branch

TTCU was excited to host 42 sophomores from Antioch High School Sept. 29. The students are from TTCU’s Academy of Business and Finance and all are in the Accounting pathway.

The students visited our Main Nashville Branch to learn about careers in Banking and Finance. We are proud to be able to help guide the students in their future careers by discussing the job responsibilities of various positions in the credit union and financial services industry, such as tellers, member service representatives, branch managers, fraud prevention specialists, IT professionals, marketing managers, and internal audit & accounting leaders.

Saint Thomas Health Scholars Program Puts Students on Career Path to Healthcare

Originally posted to Saint Thomas Health Beat

It was a night to shine. It was a night to celebrate. One hundred students from nine high schools with health & science academies in Metro Nashville were selected to the Saint Thomas Health Scholars Program. The program, one of the first of its kind in the nation, provides mentoring and hands-on experience in the healthcare field in hopes of paving a career path for these seniors once they graduate from high school. The program also prepares them to take the certification exam at the end of the school year to become a medical assistant. All this at no charge to the students and their families.

Saint Thomas Health, a part of Ascension, partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools for this inaugural program. A special event was held at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville to commission the students into the program.

That Somebody Way You

The Relentless Entertainment Group and Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School sent a very special welcome to Dr. Shawn Joseph on his “First Official Day” at work. The 2016 President of Relentless Entertainment Group, senior, Bre’Monte Carpenter was inspired to write this song in honor Dr. Joseph’s first official day.  A multi-talented Relentless vocal artist, senior, Shondia Pride provided the stirring vocal performance.

Check out the newest release from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, Our New MNPS Director of Schools, Dr. Joseph, That Somebody Was You!


Audio Production Students compete in Skills USA


What Is Skills USA?

Skills USA is a convention for students to compete against each other by showcasing their professional and career abilities.

What It Was Like To Compete

We were given a lot of freedom to create during competition. With only a simple prompt to follow, they would let us go out and record anywhere we wanted in the city. It was a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each other and having so much creative freedom.

Chattanooga Was Awesome

Chattanooga is such a beautiful city, its tasteful, timeless atmosphere made me feel right at home there. The relaxed, laid back scenery of the area was so calming it almost felt like a vacation!

Getting to hang out with all the other students competing was also a ton of fun.

What We Took Away From The Experience

I learned how enjoyable and satisfying it is to work on a professional level project and also the focus and work ethic it takes to pull one off.

Learning not to have many expectations for any task before it is given was an important tool I picked up during competition. It prepared me for my career world while also simply giving me a good fundamental rule to live by.

The Medals


Greetings from the New Academies of Nashville Director

030As I start this new chapter in my career, I can’t help but to look back with thankfulness and look forward with hope and excitement. My professional career started more than 25 years ago as a teacher at Glencliff High School. It was there that I fell in love with teaching and helping shape the lives of young people. Within the first couple of years of teaching, we piloted some curriculum being offered by Ford Motor Company. Little did I know that exploration would be the catalyst for the journey that I have been blessed to travel for the past quarter of a century.

It was in those classrooms that we worked with teams of students to solve real business problems and allow those students to get dressed in their best to deliver their solutions to the executives of companies. It was in those classrooms that we learned to bring business partners into the classrooms to make learning authentic and to spark the curiosity of students that had once sat quietly in neat rows of desks. It was there that the Academies of Nashville dream began.

Spring forward twenty-five years and the dream of all students learning in this manner is at hand in MNPS high schools. In 2006, we were able to get a Small Learning Communities grant that would allow us to put the structure into place to build what we know as The Academies of Nashville. This work could not have happened without the dedication, vision and hard work of two great leaders that I have been blessed to learn from: Starr Herrman and Chaney Mosley. Each was able to bring the work that was needed at the time to the Academies of Nashville and each of their personalities and commitment will be forever etched on the organization.

As I look forward, I do so with hope and excitement that we can continue to nurture the process that has brought us to this place. As we approach our tenth year for the Academies of Nashville, I am honored to take on the role of director and want to build on the success that has brought over 2500 educators from around the country to study our work. My goal is to help support our stakeholders to move this work forward into the next quarter of a century. In the beginning, we wanted to improve the high school graduation rate—we moved that percentage from a dismal 58.2% in 2006 to a current rate of 81.6%. As we look to the future, I want to help many of our first-time college seekers believe that they can succeed at both college and career. I want to continue to give them the tools that are required not only to go to college, but to complete college and move into a career where they can begin to change the culture of poverty.

I continue to believe the tools for student success are bundled in the Academies of Nashville and my goal is to continue to learn from and nurture the 350 business partners that are committed to our work. Further, I hope to mentor and help develop the Academy Coaches as they are the “boots on the ground” at each of the academy schools that keep the spirit of the academies thriving. Indeed, it is with great hope and excitement that I believe the best days for the Academies of Nashville are yet to come.

Team Sparta Bots advances to FIRST Robotics Championship

Originally posted to MNPS Children First


Congratulations to Sparta Bots, the robotics team at Stratford’s Academy of Science and Engineering, for coming out on top at the Smoky Mountain Regionals!

Stratford was part of the alliance team that included Rohawktics from Knoxville and Roboteers from Tremont, Illinois. They outperformed nearly fifty teams from Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

IMG_0309“Our team was supported by so many at the event and our students rose to the challenge and specialized in a great defender robot,” said Academy Principal Dr. Jennifer Berry, in an email to Children First. “A special and huge thank you to Ms. Hansen for guiding the team to victory and Ms. Bartley for assisting. A big shout out to David Peters and Universal Robotics for mentoring our team! It was truly a great moment to witness for our students and our school!”

Stratford has participated in the Smoky Mountain Regionals since 2013. Learn more about the robotics competition here.

Sparta Bots will now compete in the FIRST Championship competition set for later this month in St. Louis, Missouri. You can follow the results by watching live or visiting this page.


The Story of a Student Athlete- Hillsboro High’s Darius Ferguson

By Rashed Fakhruddin

Darius Ferguson picStudent athlete Darius Ferguson has a game plan both on and off the basketball court. The Hillsboro High School varsity basketball player averages 11 points and six assists per game and helped lead his team to the state tournament two years in a row, but his priorities remain focused on academics and potential career opportunities.


A year ago, I was sitting next to Darius’ parents during one of his games at regionals. They mentioned he was interested in engineering and I offered the opportunity for him to shadow me on the job at Nashville Electric Service (NES).


During fall break, Darius took me up on the offer and spent the day at NES learning different engineering applications, asking questions and talking about career development. During our lunch break, the roles reversed and Darius taught me a few things on the basketball court over a couple of games at the nearby YMCA.


Earlier this month, I turned on the television to see Hillsboro playing Mt. Juliet. Darius had a monster fourth quarter advancing the team to state. The very next day, I received an email from Darius asking about the possibility of an NES internship this summer. I was so impressed! This senior just had one of the biggest games of his life and he still has his future in mind.


Darius Ferguson basketball picWe recently had a long phone conversation that was the highlight of my week. It topped my winning three-point buzzer beater for NES against the Nashville Fire Department in the Metro Parks Basketball League. It even meant more than a personal spotlight in Nashville Scene’s annual People’s issue.


It epitomizes the dream we have as business partners with Metro Nashville Public Schools to see our students motivated, challenged and prepared for college and careers.

Hospitality and Business Experiential Learning at McGavock High School


Hospitality & Tourism students visit Gaylord Opryland Hotel every year. Here are some students during a job shadow. They shadow employees of the hotel gaining experience and insight to the world of hospitality. They learn about all aspects of the hotel such as the front desk and human resources, which are pictured.



Banking and Finance students benefit from having the U.S. Community Credit Union as a business partner. Pictured are banking and finance students discussing marketing tactics with the head of marketing for the USCCU, J.R. Jerningan. McGavock has a fully functioning branch of the USCCU inside the school where students work gaining banking experience while other students have to ability to open accounts and learn about financial responsibility.



Entrepreneurship students benefit from having Deloitte as a business partner. Betsy Oleska, the Senior Engagement Manager at Deloitte is a member of the advisory board for the Academy of Hospitality and Finance. She helped to facilitate the job shadow for the students. They learned about consulting and auditing while there.



The culinary students help to prepare meals while at The Gaylord Opryland Hotel. They gain valuable experience in a real life culinary atmosphere. The students also create menus to serve to the staff at McGavock High School in their Bistro. Once a week, the teachers can go to the Bistro and enjoy a pre-fixed menu prepared and served by the students.

Personality comes with many names at McGavock HS CMT Academy of Digital Design and Technology

We’re the kids from McGavock’s Audio/Visual Production pathway. At least that’s what we think it’s called… It’s either that, or Broadcasting. We’re not sure… “Broadcasting” makes you think of old guys in suits reporting the Evening News, and we’re not really that.  And “A/V Production” makes you think about nerdy kids with pocket protectors. And we’re not really that either. Well, some of us are. Anyway, what we do know is that we learn how to make Television. How to write, produce, light, edit, and share video projects. Things like music videos, commercials, news programs, documentaries, web features, and short films. Some of the major projects we do every year are the DDC Awards Show, the Film Festival, and the Senior Showcase. We think our pathway is the best one in Nashville. And we’ve won awards that back up this claim. Now if we only knew what to call ourselves….





Pearl-Cohn named to Grammy Foundation Signature Schools List

Screen-Shot-2016-03-17-at-8.55.33-AMThe Grammy Foundation announced 13 U.S. schools have been selected as Grammy Signature Schools for 2016 and have been awarded cash grants totaling $61,000. This program recognizes top U.S. public high schools that make an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year. Each of the 13 Grammy Signature Schools will receive a custom award and a monetary grant to benefit its music program.

Included this year is Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, which is awarded the Grammy Signature Schools Enterprise Award and will receive $5,500.

“We created the Grammy Foundation’s Grammy Signature Schools initiative to highlight the excellent work being done through music programs at public high schools across the country, and since 1999, we have provided more than $1.3 million to close to 300 schools,” said Neil Portnow, President/ CEO of The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. “We are proud to offer these financial resources to augment what are often limited budgets, so that teachers may continue to provide the enriching and lasting benefits of a musical education to their students.”

For more information about the Foundation, visit

Signarama Visits Digital Arts and Design Classes at McGavock

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 7.59.55 AM

Mr. Hinchman’s Digital Arts and Design II students at McGavock High School had the pleasure of hearing Greta Miller, of Signarama, speak about the graphic design industry in October. Ms. Miller, the production manager of the company, passed along valuable firsthand information to the students about the field and what it takes to become not only a graphic designer, but a highly-successful graphic designer. She also talked about the different software she uses on a daily basis, which is the same software the students use, and the importance of building relationships with customers.

McGavock students “rock” at Rocketown

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A group of students from McGavock’s audio production class had the opportunity to visit the full studio at Rocketown on a scheduled experiential learning day. With the prior help of teacher, Mr. Oquendo, the students were able to run a full session from beginning to end with little instruction.


They used production software, Logic Pro X, which they have been trained to use during class-time. All students involved helped write a script for a commercial that Rocketown will use in the future and on their website. Each student took a turn running Logic and being in the sound booth. Back at the full studio in McGavock, the students will finish their project by writing a jingle and editing what they produced.

Overton Student’s Work Featured in Two Science Publications

Overton High School senior Yasmin Alvarado-Rayo yasmin photois being published in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine and Young Scientist journal for her work on a modular robotics kit that can be used to support STEM education.

Yasmin, pictured right, is a student in the Overton Academy of Health Sciences.

As part of the team at The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt, she will share publication honors for “eSMAC: an Affordable Modular Robotic Kit for Integrated STEM Education.”

The rest of the team members for the publication include include: Vanderbilt postdoctoral student Ekawahyu Susilo, Vanderbilt undergraduate student Jianing Liu, Vanderbilt undergraduate student Ashley Melissa Peck, Hume-Foggg teacher Justin Montenegro, local high school teacher Mark Gonyea,  and Vanderbilt engineering faculty member Dr. Pietro Valdastri.

Yasmin worked in Vanderbilt’s STORM lab with Dr. Pietro Valdastri and her SSMV mentor was Dr. Stephanie Weeden-Wright.

Click here to visit the Young Scientist journal website.

Click here to visit the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine website.

Congrats, Yasmin!

Congratulations to the 2016 Academy Awards Nominees


The following categories will be decided through an anonymous online ballot


Academy Partnership of the Year, Arts, Media & Communications

  • Frist Center For the Visual Arts and the Academy of Art, Design, & Communication at Hillwood High School
  • Stones River National Battlefield and the CMT Academy of Digital Design & Communication at McGavock High School
  • Warner Music Nashville and the Academy of Entertainment Management at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School


Academy Partnership of the Year, Business, Marketing & IT

  • Bridgestone Americas, Inc. and the Academy of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Maplewood High School
  • HCA IT&S and the Academy of Information Technology at Overton High School
  • The Tennessee Credit Union and the Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business & Finance at Antioch High School


Academy Partnership of the Year, Engineering, Manufacturing & Industrial Technology

Presented by Nissan North America, Inc.

  • ACE Mentor and the Academy of Architecture & Construction at Cane Ridge High School
  • Cummins, Inc. and the Academy of Aviation and Transportation at McGavock High School
  • LP Corporation and the Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability & Logistics at Whites Creek High School


Academy Partnership of the Year, Hospitality & Tourism

  • Community Hospitality and the Academy of Business & Hospitality at Hillwood High School
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Antioch and Academy of Hospitality & Marketing at Antioch High School
  • Omni Hotel and the Academy of Hospitality at Hunters Lane High School


Academy Partnership of the Year, Health & Public Services

  • American Red Cross and the Academy of Global Health & Science at Hillsboro High School
  • HCA/TriStar Health and the Academy of Health Science at Hillwood High School
  • Meharry Medical College and the Academy of Medical Science & Research at Glencliff High School


2016 Externship Project of the Year
Presented by The Memorial Foundation

  • Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Academy of Art, Design, & Communication at Hillwood High School
  • Meharry Medical College and the Academy of Medical Science & Research at Glencliff High School
  • US Community Credit Union and the US Community Credit Union Academy of International Business & Communication at Hillsboro High School


Freshman Academy of the Year
Presented by Fifth Third

  • Hillwood Freshman Academy
  • Maplewood Freshman Academy
  • Stratford Freshman Academy


2016 Academy of the Year

  • Glencliff High School’s Hands On Nashville Academy of Environmental & Urban Planning
  • Hillwood High School’s Academy of Health Science
  • Maplewood High School’s Academy of Entrepreneurship & Innovation


The following categories will be decided by a judging panel of community leaders through blind vote.


Academy Teacher of the Year (CTE or Thematic Pathway)
Presented by Deloitte

  • Robert Kriebel with Antioch High School’s Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business & Finance
  • Jeff Sherry with Hunters Lane High School’s Griffin Academy of Design & Technology
  • Jon Stephens with Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy of National Safety & Security Technologies
  • Denise Wiggington with Overton High School’s Academy of Health Science
  • TJ Williams with Maplewood High School’s Academy of Entrepreneurship & Innovation


Academy Teacher of the Year (General Education)

  • Elizabeth Brewer with Glencliff High School’s Academy of Medical Science & Research
  • Sheree Cumberlander with Whites Creek High School’s Freshman Academy
  • Adam Lightman with McGavock High School’s Academy of Aviation & Transportation
  • Chad Prather with Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School’s Academy of Entertainment Management
  • Laticia Skae with Hillsboro High School’s Academy of Global Health & Science


Academy Team Leader of the Year

  • Deante Alexander with Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School’s Academy of Entertainment Management
  • Jeremiah Davis with Whites Creek High School’s Academy of Education & Law
  • Angela Lake with Maplewood High School’s Academy of Energy & Power
  • Martha Mitchell with McGavock High School’s CMT Academy of Digital Design & Communication
  • Jason Proffit with Hunters Lane High School’s Academy of Health & Human Science


Counselor of the Year

  • Amy LeVally, McGavock High School’s Academy of Aviation & Transportation
  • Stephanie Pate, Overton High School’s Academy of Engineering
  • Ashley Shaver, Hillwood High School’s Academy of Art, Design & Communication


Academy Coach of the Year 

  • Sonya Mansfield, Maplewood High School
  • Brad Meyers, Hunters Lane High School
  • Mary York, Overton High School


Academy Assistant Principal of the Year
Presented by Altria

  • Dr. Keely Jones-Mason, Maplewood High School’s Academy of Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Laura Lee Morin, McGavock High School’s Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality & Finance
  • Dr. Meghen Sanders, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School’s Academy of Entertainment Communication
  • Stephen Shaeffer, Overton High School’s Academy of Event Marketing and Musical Performance
  • Russell Young, Hunters Lane High School’s Academy of Health & Human Services


Executive Principal of the Year Presented by Altria

  • James Bailey, Whites Creek High School
  • Michael Steele, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Sonia Stewart, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School