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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Bridges to Belmont: 12 students receive full-ride scholarships

Twelve students from Stratford STEM Magnet High School received full ride scholarships to Belmont University. Watch and hear their reactions to this incredible news in the video below.

Partners and Students working together for FAFSA

Business partners work with students in a variety of ways. One way is by assisting families in navigating the Free Application for Federal Student Aide , or FAFSA. Ashley R., a student in the Academy of Hospitality and Marketing at Antioch High School, writes about her experience at the Antioch FAFSA night.  

On January 15th Antioch hosted their annual FAFSA night. I was excited when I arrived and saw many familiar faces. I was very proud to see so many of my fellow peers attending the event because it let me know they were serious about their future and taking advantage of this great opportunity to receive free scholarships and grants for college. In my opinion the event was very well organized and very well put together. The staff was very friendly and more than happy to answer any questions or concerns that we or anyone had. They were very respectful and at times very funny, as soon as you raised your hand they were already on their way with bright smiles and energy. They made my FAFSA experience more than easy and very enjoyable. I’m sure they did the same for many others as well. It was very generous and sweet for the school to offer its students free pizza and other refreshments for both them and their parents. FAFSA night also gave my mother the opportunity to meet some of the fabulous hardworking teachers in this school, along with our more than awesome counselors and everyone else who makes this school what it is. I spent lots of time with my friends having a good time as we patiently waited for our names to be called. The all-around energy in the building that night was nothing short of amazing and positive. Everyone around me was happy, cheerful and just full of energy. We cheered at the ringing of the bell and announcements of students being accepted into college. In general, my FAFSA night was amazing, easy and very enjoyable.

Operation Field Trip

Field trips give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Criminal Justice students from Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy National Safety and Security Technologies participated in a field trip this month of the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center. In this post, Mr. Stephens documents their experience.


Stratford CJ 1


Criminal Justice I students successfully completed their field trip mission to the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center. Students were accompanied by Academy Principal Merkerson and their teacher, Mr. Stephens.  This unique opportunity was facilitated by Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, Ms. Earl, Lt. DeMoss, Sgt. Foley, and Mr. Pressler. Students discovered that Lt. DeMoss was a graduate of Stratford High School and so was his father! Lt. DeMoss volunteered to attend the Stratford Career Day later this month and is looking forward to touring the school and seeing the progress of the renovation.

Stratford CJ 2

Extracurricular Activities Enhanced by Academy Theme

Every student in the Academies of Nashville has the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities ranging from band to student government to chess club. Oftentimes, the leadership skills associated with these organizations are enhanced by a student’s pathway or Academy theme. Marisol G., a junior at McGavock High School in the USCCU/ Gaylord Opryland Academy of Hospitality and Finance, talks about her recent trip to the Southern Association of Student Councils Conference. 


IMG_0310[1]           From October 11th to October 13th two fellow student council members, our head student council sponsor, and I where in Lawrenceville, Georgia. We attended the Southern Association of Student Councils Conference at Mountain View High School. Student Council members from all over the South came to attend this conference. Throughout the conference, we listened to keynote speakers, met new people from the South, learned more about leadership through hands-on activities, and visited a few local attractions. We went to the World of Coke, Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Georgia Aquarium. We also helped package meals for the Stop Hunger Now Organization and presented a workshop about School Spirit.

I learned and got so much out of this fun experience. Not only did I get several ideas on how to improve our student council, but I also learned more about what leadership really is. The keynote speakers, Mike Smith in particular, really inspired me to have a more positive impact on people. I learned about connecting, leading, and inspiring. Not only did it relate to student council, but it also related to my pathway class. In my pathway class, we have been learning about the four P’s of marketing. Every where I looked, I saw marketing every where. Promotion was the most common P of marketing that I saw.

TN Department of Corrections Shares Duties with Students

Criminal Justice students had guest speakers from Tennessee Department of Corrections Board of Probation and Parole. Guests spoke with students about their roles and responsibilities in the field office. Officers that came out inform the students that each one of them worked in different units such as: sex offender unit, parole, and probation. Each unit has to complete a home visit, urine test, employment checks, arrest check, and other things. Officer’s informed the students of the consequence of texting inappropriate pictures and how they could be charged with a sex offense as a juvenile. They told the students that some individuals on probation have to wear a GPS and how the GPS tracking device worked. District Director LaRhonda Williams was one of the four officers, along with the Sex offender supervisor, parole and probation officer who spoke with the student.  The students eagerly asked questions and discussed multiple topics during their visit.



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Teacher Collaboration Equals Student Success

Interdisciplinary learning is a staple in the Academies of Nashville. General Education teachers and Career and Technical Education teachers often work together on projects to show the relevance of subjects and topics that students might otherwise dismiss. Teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies describes a specific project below. 


Mr. Ammen and his creative writing students collaborated with Mr. Stephens Criminal Justice students regarding a cold case. Students participated in 11 hours of case facts, court proceedings, research, documentation, critical thinking, team discussions, planning and real world role playing.

Stratford Pic 1

Defense Attorney Stone questions key witness Roberts on direct examination.

Project-based learning collaboration between English Creative Writing and Criminal Justice students allows for verbal and mental debate.

Project-based learning collaboration between English Creative Writing students and Criminal Justice students allows for verbal and mental debate.

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Army National Guard providing Criminal Justice students with an overview of education and career opportunities available in the Guard. Future planned guest speakers will be from the Marine Corps, Navy, MNPS Explorers, FBI Cyber Squad, and Private Security.

Antioch High School Opens Student-Run Youth Court

Originally posted to MNPS Children First Blog.

Yesterday at Antioch High School, newly elected Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Jones Calloway swore in 30 students to the school’s newly installed youth court program. This marks the culmination of a yearlong effort to add three new youth court programs inside Metro Schools. Judge Calloway has played a pivotal role in implementing and expanding the youth court program in the district.


Youth court programs provide a second chance for juvenile first offenders who admit to the charges against them. In youth court, students assume roles as court officials. They hear and decide cases involving other young people who are first time offenders and have been cited for low-level offenses like vandalism, shoplifting and truancy.


“Youth courts have proven very successful in other communities, and we are excited that we will now be operating four youth courts in Davidson County,” said Judge Calloway. “As the Judge of Juvenile Court, I have personally learned a great deal from the students in youth court and their ideas about justice. Young people understand how other young people think and act better than adults do, so it makes sense for them to be involved in resolving these cases. Programs like youth court enable us to work together to develop fair and restorative solutions to the problems we face in our community.”


The youth court program in Metro Schools is the result of a partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Juvenile Courts, Metro Schools and the Tennessee Youth Court Program. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association.


Cane Ridge High School served as the pilot program in October 2013. After successful implementation at Cane Ridge, the partnership worked quickly with a goal of adding courts in three more schools. Youth courts at Whites Creek and McGavock High Schools began hearing cases in February 2014. After hearing about the program and its successes from her colleagues, Antioch Executive Principal Dr. Adrienne Koger secured the opportunity for her students.


“This is a chance for our students to learn about responsibility on a societal level,” said Dr. Koger. “They are not just taking responsibility for themselves, but also helping their peers and others of their generation. There are very few programs that so perfectly combine public service and experiential learning. We are lucky to have the youth court program here at Antioch.”


This is the latest accolade for Antioch High School, which earlier this year was named a Reward School for academic growth by the Tennessee Department of Education.


The training and expansion of the youth court program in Metro Schools is a continuation of the collaboration with the Tennessee Bar Association, Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Courts, Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC), and the MNPS Student Services Division.


The Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC) is a program operated by the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Police Department with the goal of decreasing truancy rates in Nashville schools by addressing the root causes of truancy.


The Tennessee Youth Court Program is a youth-driven delinquency prevention/intervention program that has spread to 16 communities throughout Tennessee.  Ninety-three percent of the youth participating in the program do not re-offend. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association with funding from the State of Tennessee.




RaiderVision Brings Real-World Experience to Students

Experiential learning is a cornerstone to the educational experience in Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Academies of Nashville. Cheyenne S., a student at McGavock High School in the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication, writes about her real-world experience of producing a news show. 

The best learning experience I had this year was with my role as the executive producer of RaiderVision. If you don’t know, RaiderVision is McGavock’s tri-weekly news program that airs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It informs students of what is going on at school, and has over thirty episodes (as of December 12th). Finished videos are posted onto YouTube; to find and watch any of them, search “raidervision mcgavock” into the search bar and you should find some of our shows.

As executive producer, I help groups with their videos and what they can continue or improve, and am the overseer of the entire class. Anything that has to do with RaiderVision, from organizing the monthly calendar to contacting teachers for new ideas, I am the head of it. My desired career is as a director and producer in both film and television. Being executive producer of McGavock’s news program has not only giving me more experience in what I want to do in life, but also helped as a leadership role. I have always considered myself a leader, but with my roles as an ambassador and executive producer, I am learning how to be a better leader, and I could never be more thankful for those who are helping me with this challenge. The 2015 school year will hold much more success as I continue learning and participating.

Antioch named as one of the Top 50 Hospitality Schools in US

Earlier this month, Antioch High School’s hospitality program in the Academy of Hospitality and Marketing was named to the 2014-2015 Elite 50, an exclusive group of high schools and career and technical schools from across the country, by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies.

The Elite 50 is comprised of high schools and tech centers that excel in the areas of culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and/ or hospitality management. Some are state and national competition winners from ProStarts, SkillsUSA and Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Sullivan University also factors in schools with strong hospitality enrollment and influence in the community.

Additional criteria for receiving this recognition include: an original recipe with photos or a restaurant management design; two essays from students on the topic, “Why I want to pursue a career in hospitality?”; and additional information about the school’s program. Further considerations where given to schools that operate a restaurant or offer catering services.

Congratulations Antioch High School and the Academy of Hospitality and Marketing!



Happy Holidays from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

The Relentless Entertainment Group is at a loss for words of gratitude to it’s school district, MNPS. They chose to go against the grain and send the entire staff at MNPS a musical Christmas Card entitled “Have Yourself a ‘MNPS’ Christmas.” Students from all the area high school gathered together to express their holiday greetings in song. Enjoy!

The United Project: A Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action


The Academies of Nashville, in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and the PENCIL Foundation, is announcing plans for a new initiative focused on creating pathways to success for youth in foster care called the United Project. This program is a Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America annual meeting, which these organizations attended this summer.


The United Project will expand education, training and employment pathways for Davidson County foster youth. MNPS, DCS, and PENCIL will work collaboratively to identify, recruit, and serve foster youth in order to develop meaningful relationships between these students and local business. Business partners will have the opportunity to:

  • provide students with work-based and service-learning opportunities,
  • model and coach youth on appropriate work-place behaviors, and
  • offer mentorship experiences that support student’s personal and professional growth.


“The Nashville community has consistently demonstrated its willingness to make a difference in the lives of our students,” says Dr. Chaney Mosley, the Academies of Nashville and Career and Technical Education Director for MNPS. “This initiative will be the first of its kind in Davidson County that specifically targets youth in foster care. For these students, successfully transitioning to adulthood is challenging without the support network of family. We recognized the potential for combating this through a partnership with DCS.”


“We are thrilled that our youth are going to get these opportunities,” says Michael Leach, director of Independent Living at DCS. “As our young people prepare to leave foster care, they need to make connections with adults that will help them succeed in the working world.”


While the Tennessee Department of Children Services will work to identify and recruit students into the program, the PENCIL Foundation will act as a liaison between Nashville businesses and organizations that wish to participate in the program.


“The United Project is an innovative and forward thinking program that allows PENCIL, MNPS, and the Department of Children’s Services to help students succeed academically and prepare for life,” says Matt Seaton, Vice President of Partnerships and Programs for the PENCIL Foundation. “For nearly five years, the PENCIL Foundation’s College and Career Mentors program has helped hundreds of students reach their college aspirations and begin planning for a productive career. The United Project will allow us to expand that reach and serve a population of students in need of additional support.”


There are currently more than 8,000 youth across the state of Tennessee that are served by DCS. Those youth who are also students of Metro Nashville Public Schools will have the unique opportunity to develop life and social skills as well as become college and career ready.


CGI commitments are new, specific, and measureable plans to address a significant challenge- in the case of CGI America, economic recovery and growth in the United States. Commitments range broadly in scale, value, approach, and in the types of partnerships they employ. The CGI commitment signaled the intent of the United Project to mobilize with its partners a multi-year change effort, providing a way to leverage the enormous scale and reach of the Nashville community to help solve social problems.


About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)- an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation- convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prizes laureates, and hundreds of learning CEOs, heads of foundations and NGSs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,800 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $103 billion. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community of around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at


About CGI America

Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative American (CGI America)- an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation- addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since the first meeting in 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 300 commitments valued at more than $15.3 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit



My Life as a McGavock Student

Life as a student behind the doors of McGavock, on the surface, is like any other. I come to school complaining about how I may have a test or about having to wake up early. However, the thing that makes it different is the opportunity for student involvement in academies.

McGavock FFA 1


I am an ambassador for the Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law. As an ambassador, I have met people from many different ethnic groups and lifestyles. As the Pre-Vet Ambassador, I get to work with living, breathing animals on a daily basis, and share my experiences with guests of our academy.

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I am also an FFA officer, which is the Career and Technical Student Organization, or CTSO, for my pathway. At the FFA National Convention this semester, I got to meet people from places like Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. In my Agricultural classes, we had Agricultural Education students from Ohio State come down and teach our classes. It’s great to think that McGavock gives opportunities not just for students, but also for people outside our doors.

McGavock FFA 3


Everything I do, and others do, in McGavock involve getting to make friends and getting to know other people. Even with the expectations in my pathway and CTSO activities, I am still able to participate in the McGavock Band as a member of the Color Guard and other global activities. Because of the opportunities in my pathway, academy, and school, I don’t mind having to wake up at five o’clock in the morning!

McGavock FFA 4

Students Get A Backstage Pass

Saturday, November 1, 2014,  Jason Spence of J Sound Services gave three Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School students, John G., Jawan M., Matthew R., and a teacher, Linda Sun, a special backstage tour of the CMA show setup at Bridgestone Arena. The group spent two hours with Jason seeing the mixing stations, audio and video broadcast trucks, all the electrical and networking sites, and the front of house areas as well. They left understanding it takes hundreds of people, some of whom work year round, to put on one three hour live music television awards show. Another takeaway was the knowledge that there are multiple back up systems, so if one thing goes wrong during the telecast, it get’s covered immediately! There is no room for error in a live show.

Finally, they saw lots of equipment they have access to learn to use at Pearl-Cohn. Everything is recorded and mixed in ProTools – the platform they can become certified in as seniors. The live sound mixing consoles are basically versions of the digital networked console in the auditorium that Jason’s company installed, their master control truck has much of the same equipment as our broadcasting studio master control, and the television sound truck has a mixing console that works like the one in our recording studio.

It was all really impressive and rejuvenating for our students.

The Haslam’s Host Stratford Students in their Home

Haslam 1On Tuesday, October 28, 2014 the Biotechnology II students from Statford STEM Magnet High School visited the Governor’s Mansion where Governor Haslam and his wife, First Lady Chrissy Haslam reside. We were invited to tour the vegetable gardens with U.T. Agricultural Extension’s David Cook and a few Master Gardeners. Mr. Cook prepared an excellent workshop for us to learn about heirloom crops, hybrid crops, and genetically-modified crops. Our food crops have changed considerably since the days of wild food crops and in more recent years, scientists have learned to insert specific genes from one DNA source into another DNA source allowing for specific traits in the modified plants, such as Bt-corn, which kills the corn borer that destroys the crop.  As he explained these variations in our food sources, he provided a Mendel’s skit of participation for students. It was very informative and several ate peppers and beans from the garden.

Next, First Lady Haslam gave us a tour of the Governor’s Mansion and enlightened us with several historical stories about paintings, punch bowls, shuffle boards (Elvis played on this shuffle board) and other pertinent facts relative to the mansion. Last, but not least, we visited the kitchen where the Chef Stephen Ward prepared a plate of sea bass and fresh vegetables in about 10 minutes, while explaining different herbs and sauces that bring a meal to life. Each student was able to sample the dish and take plenty of pictures.

The First Lady posed for pictures with the group and with individual students. It was an inspirational and educational trip, which was prepared especially for our curriculum in cooperation with U.T. Agricultural Extension. Field trips are among the First Lady’s priorities as stated on her website,

Haslam 2Therein she states, “We hope to provide a variety of learning opportunities at the Tennessee Residence,” Mrs. Haslam said. “Students and teachers have visited our Kitchen and Cutting Garden to become more familiar with where their food comes from and how to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.”  We am very grateful to her and her excellent staff for making this possible.


Darlene Gunther
Biotechnology Teacher
Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Metro Schools Graduation Rate Rises 20 Points in 10 Year

2013-2014 graduation rate hits 78.7%

Nashville has reason to celebrate its public schools as the official graduation rate at Metro Schools reaches new heights, rising more than 20 percentage points in the last 10 years. The 2013-14 graduation rate hit 78.7%, up from 76.6% in 2012-13 and 58.2% in 2003-04.

These dramatic gains point to long-term improvements district-wide in all tiers. Ten years ago, last year’s graduates were in second grade. As they moved through elementary, middle and into high school, they experienced firsthand major educational changes like the move to higher standards, increased focused on social and emotional learning and a seismic shift in educational technology. Teaching and learning in Metro Schools are wholly different enterprises than they were 10 years ago, and those changes were clearly for the better.




“This news is welcome, and it is due to the hard work of the teachers and students of Metro Schools. They are to all be commended for reaching this milestone,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register.

Year over year, the graduation rate at Metro Schools grew twice as quickly as Tennessee as a whole last year, rising 2.1 percentage point versus the state average of 0.9 percentage points.

“The changes we’ve seen in our high schools in the last 10 years are remarkable. They are completely different schools reaching students in completely different ways,” Dr. Register said. “Students are finding ways to learn that work for them. Through high school innovations like the Academies of Nashville, our magnet schools, Virtual School, Middle College and Big Picture, as well as the Academy schools at Old Cockrill, Opry Mills and Hickory Hollow, there are choices to fit every student’s needs.”

There are 24 high school options in Metro Schools, and nearly all of them are open for application to any student in the county entering grades nine through 12. The Optional Schools Application period opens Monday, Nov. 3, and every student will be able to choose the school that offers his or her best chance for success.

“Every student is different. They all have different interests, needs and styles of learning,” said Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele. “Our high school options give every student an individual path to graduation. That’s one of the biggest reasons why there has been such an enormous increase in the graduation rate. When students are more connected to what they are learning and are empowered to make their own decisions about learning, they can find their path and see it through to graduation.”

While district officials are proud of the increase in the graduation rate, they recognize it is still behind the national average and well below where it needs to be.

Steele said, “We continue making improvements to our high schools. The Middle Preps are working hard to keep students on track and focused during the key middle school years. The StrIDe program with MTA now makes it possible for high school students to have more transportation access to optional schools. As a district we are intensely focused on serving the whole child and giving all students the best chance for success at every level. All of these and many more strategies added together can lead to even bigger gains in the graduation rate. Now it’s up to us to keep working hard and make sure that happens.”