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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  • Cane Ridge, Overton, and McGavock High School's recognized for having 'Model Academies' through the National Career Academy Coalition.

    Cane Ridge, Overton, and McGavock High School's recognized for having 'Model Academies' through the National Career Academy Coalition.

  • 2013 My Future. My Way. Career Exploration Fair allows 6,000 freshman to experience nearly 400 jobs.

    2013 My Future. My Way. Career Exploration Fair allows 6,000 freshman to experience nearly 400 jobs.

Internships

Internships

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

Externships

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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Partnerships

Partnerships

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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Choosing Day

Click here to watch the video full screen.

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

UnitED

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 clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

 

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 cgiamerica.org.

 

 

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.

McGavock FFA 2

 

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, https://news.tn.gov/node/12874.

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.

 

screen-shot-2014-10-31-at-9-18-08-am-1

 

“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.”

Ford Hub awards $37,000 in grants

Every year, the Academies of Nashville has visitors from all across the country who are interested in learning about the career academy model. These visitors come from all over the country and spend three days learning about all aspects of our schools. Over the years, these visits have generated thousands of dollar for our schools. One way this money is distributed is through the Starr Awards. This week, 22 programs were awarded more than $37,000 in grants to implement projects this year, attend experiential learning opportunities, and a number of other initiatives. Congratulations to all of our Academies and Teachers who received a Starr Award this year!

Antioch High School  "Big Blue Goes Green"Antioch High School
All Academies

“Big Blue Goes Green”

Cane Ridge High School Academy of Health Management "Ridge Run 5K/1 Mile Fun Run"Cane Ridge High School
Academy of Health Management
“Ridge Run 5K/1 Mile Fun Run”
 Glen cliff High School Academy of Medical Science and Research "Be In the Zone. Turn Off Your Phone"Glencliff High School
Academy of Medical Science and Research
“Be In the Zone. Turn Off Your Phone”
 Glencliff High School Academy of Medical Science and Research "Restrictive Diets- Who Needs Them? Not Me!"Glencliff High School
Academy of Medical Science and Research
“Restrictive Diets- Who Needs Them? Not Me!”
 Glencliff High School  Freshman Academy "Honey of Education"Glencliff High School
Freshman Academy
“Honey of Education”
 Hillsboro High School Academy of Global Health and Science "Saving Our Lives"Hillsboro High School
Academy of Global Health and Science
“Saving Our Lives”
 Maplewood High School Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness "Professional Certifications"Maplewood High School
Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness
“Professional Certifications”
 McGavock High School Academy of Aviation and Transportation "College Visits"McGavock High School
Academy of Aviation and Transportation
“College Visits”
McGavock High School CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communications "21st Century DDC Graduates"McGavock High School
CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communications
“21st Century DDC Graduates”
McGavock High School Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law "Read Three to a White Coat"McGavock High School
Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health
Science and Law
“Read Three to a White Coat”
 Overton High School Academy of Health Sciences "First Aid and CPR Certifications"Overton High School
Academy of Health Sciences
“First Aid and CPR Certifications”
 Overton High School Academy of Engineering "Chicks in the City"Overton High School
Academy of Engineering
“Chicks in the City”
 Overton High School Academy of Health Sciences "First Aid Certification"Overton High School
Academy of Health Sciences
“First Aid Certification”
 Overton High School Academy of Health Sciences "R UR Teeth Rotten"Overton High School
Academy of Health Sciences
“R UR Teeth Rotten”
 Overton High School Academy of Engineering "Urban Agriculture Pathway PBL Trip"Overton High School
Academy of Engineering
“Urban Agriculture Pathway PBL Trip”
 Overton High School Academy of Engineering "Understanding LP Corp. Products and Processing"Overton High School
Academy of Engineering
“Understanding LP Corp. Products and Processing”
Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School Academy of Entertainment Communication "Spread the Word to End the Word"Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
Academy of Entertainment Communication
“Spread the Word to End the Word”
 Whites Creek High School Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics "Sustainable for Life"Whites Creek High School
Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics
“Sustainable for Life”
 Whites Creek High School Academy of Community Health "Tag You're Sick"Whites Creek High School
Academy of Community Health
“Tag You’re Sick”
 Whites Creek High School Academy of Education and Law "Murder She Wrote. An Evening Murder Mystery"Whites Creek High School
Academy of Education and Law
“Murder She Wrote. An Evening Murder Mystery”
 Whites Creek High School Academy of Education and Law "When Will I Use This? To Catch the Bad Guys!"Whites Creek High School
Academy of Education and Law
“When Will I Use This? To Catch the Bad Guys!”
 Whites Creek High School Freshman Academy "How Does HIV Affect Me and My Community?"Whites Creek High School
Freshman Academy
“How Does HIV Affect Me and My Community?”

Denver’s Top Leaders Learn from Music City

Excerpts taken from News Channel 9- Denver

 

Last month, 160 of Denver’s top business and civic leaders traveled to Nashville, Tenn. as a part of the 25th annual Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation Leadership Exchange (LEX). This group travels annually to another city to exchange ideas and learn best practices to be implemented back in Denver.

One of the breakout sessions that generated  the most excitement among the delegation was a trip to Pearl-Cohn, a local high school with a focus on preparing students to work in the entertainment industry. Nashville’s approach to public education, referred to as the Academies of Nashville, has a strong tie to workforce development. High School students have the opportunity to open enroll in one of 12 zoned high schools that offer 41 different career options. The business community is deeply invested in the Academies of Nashville, with more than 240 community partners involved. Since this model was introduced, graduation rates have increase by almost 21 percent. 

“(The students) proved the success of this education model that clearly evoked a sense of self-pride,” said Tasha Jones, Leadership Exchange delegate and director of marketing for Forest City Stapleton. “The reported improvements in their attendance and graduation and engagement rates are an indication of success as well.” 

Hillwood HS assists with Disaster Exercise

Pic 1Tri-Star Hendersonville Medical Center conducted a disaster exercise in conjunction with The Great American ShakeOut on October 16, 2014. TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center responded to an imagined impact from an earthquake by experiencing structural damage, medical gas failure and a large amount of patients coming into the Emergency Department seeking treatment. While patients were being evaluated within the facility and the Critical Care Unit was determined to be evacuated, the Emergency room began receiving ambulance patients and walk-in patients that quickly overwhelmed the system. The total of 26 patients, who attend Hillwood High School, were given tags with their complaints, injuries or other information that they needed to provide the medical providers.

Pic 2The students did a great job acting the parts that they were given and even had one student that had to play “dead” during a cardiac arrest situation. Several other students participated as patients that were evacuated down the stairs from the Critical Care Unit via an Evacuation Chair along with the MedSled evacuation devices. The presence of actual patients has a significant impact on the nurses and medical facility creating an increased stress level that simulates a real disaster. These exercises help the facilities develop and adjust plans and procedures on how to manage large groups of patients that come into their Emergency Departments and this would not have been as successful without the participation of these Hillwood students. The event concluded after an hour and the students were released to enjoy a boxed lunch in the cafeteria.

 

Nashville 9th Graders Chart Path to College and Careers

6th Annual My Future. My Way. Career Exploration Fair Helps High School Freshmen Learn Firsthand from Future Employers

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The exhibit floor of the Music City Center buzzed with excitement and nervous energy last week as more than 7,000 Davidson County 9th graders jammed the convention hall to ask questions of business and technology companies, public utilities, police and fire agencies, and dozens of potential employers about the skills necessary to make it to college or a good career. The 6th annual My Future. My Way. Career Exploration Fair was hosted by Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and was sponsored for the 4th consecutive year by Shoney’s and included participation by Shoney’s Chairman and CEO David Davoudpour.

“Shoney’s has made giving back to the community a hallmark of our company’s culture,” said Mr. Davoudpour. “We truly believe investing our time and energy in these young people will help them see a path forward in their education and allow them to make the connection between achieving in school and success in the work.”

Nearly one hundred Middle Tennessee employers participated in the Career Exploration Fair. Mr. Davoudpour was joined by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Dr. Jesse Register in awarding the Best in Show award to those companies making up the Business, Marketing, and Information Technology sector of the exhibit hall displays.

“It takes lots of planning and coordination to make the Career Exploration Fair a true learning experience for these students,” said Mayor Dean. “We’re grateful for the commitment being made by Shoney’s, Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and dozens of companies exhibiting at the fair.”

“Throughout the day, all across the exhibit hall, we see thousands of conversations between professionals and young students which may spark an interest or cause a young person to see themselves in a new career role,” said Dr. Register. “Our hope is that these interactions will help the students understand that achieving in the classroom pays off in the long run.”

“Our research shows that Middle Tennessee could be seeing shortages of works in some business sectors as early as 2016,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “If our region is to continue along its path of strong growth, we need to reach out to young people and let them know that viable college and career paths are waiting for them.”

The Power of the Resume

The Academies of Nashville business partners are an essential element to high school redesign. While many partnerships occur in the classroom through guest speakers and mentoring, there are some partnerships that occur with students outside of the classroom. Ryan Pryor, a Nashville community volunteer, shared his experiences after working with Academy Ambassadors on a resume writing workshop.

resume ambassadorLet’s be honest, resume writing is kind of scary.  It’s you represented on a piece of paper, and it might be the only shot you have at getting that crucial interview.  “What do I say?  Should I include my GPA?  Is this the best wording?  Does this resume look bad?”  These are the types of questions I addressed with the Stratford STEM Magnet High School students last month.

It was a welcome opportunity to see the Stratford student body in motion.  A few junior and senior students already had internships or job interviews in mind, causing them to dial into the specifics.  Some of the younger students were getting their first exposure to the process.

Resumes are powerful tools for helping students see the way their school work and extracurricular activities and hobbies or interests prepare them for the job world.  Resumes can also show students the gaps they may have in their preparation for future jobs and life outside of their high school experience.  This enables them to set goals to fill those gaps, or possibly realize they already have experiences that do fill those gaps.  I worked with one such student who wanted to work at an elderly care facility.  When we spoke about it she came to understand that her years of babysitting experience was a huge item to make sure she included in her “relevant experience” category.

I’m encouraged to see the students being exposed to such a fundamental element of life outside of school.  Keep up the good work, Stratford.

My Academy Experience

By Jorge C, a student in the Academy of Science and Engineering at Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Choosing to take part in the Academy of Science and Engineering is probably the best decision I made at Stratford. I am currently in the engineering pathway in ASE. ASE stands for Academy of Science and Engineering and the academy’s mission statement is: The Academy of Science and Engineering will equip students with the skills necessary to be prepared for college and ready for a career in the fields of engineering or any branch of science. This is clear what the academy wants for its students: success.

I personally enjoy all of my classes that are provided by my pathway, specifically Advanced Design Apps which is the third engineering class in the pathway. Right now we’re designing a bottle rocket on a website named WhiteBox Learning. After the design process comes the construction part. This is one of the websites that the pathway will use to simulate the design and construction process engineers use on a daily basis. I appreciate the staff for the growth and support of the academy, because of them students can have various opportunities rather than just one or none.

NES Employees Showcase Career Opportunities

Originally posted at www.nespowernews.com

 

Maplewood_High_School_Academy_ShowcaseSeveral NES field and safety employees participated in the Maplewood High School Academy Showcase on October 15 to support NES’ partnership with the Academy of Energy & Power. The showcase provides incoming freshmen and sophomores the chance to learn more about the academies offered at Maplewood.

Students were able to interact with NES employees to learn about electrical safety, protective equipment, tools used for overhead line work, operations and engineering careers in the energy industry and continuing education after high school.

NES partners with the Academy of Energy & Power throughout the year to develop curriculum and annual class projects for students interested in engineering.

“Preparing Students for College, Career, and Life”

By Susan Cowley
University of Tennessee- Knoxville

 

Metro Nashville Public Schools prepares students for “college, career, and life.” It’s a part of the vision statement for Nashville’s school district, but how exactly does this happen? One method involves students receiving industry related professional certifications before high school graduation.

Students in the Academies of Nashville are meeting industry standards to receive professional certifications before walking across stage in their caps and gowns. In fact, during the 2013-2014 pilot year, more than 180 students received certifications in more than a dozen areas.

After completing a yearlong preparatory course, students have the opportunity to take the certification test. If a student passes the exam and meets other certification specific criteria, he or she will walk out of high school with a competitive edge in the workforce. The certifications range across multiple fields from healthcare to broadcasting.

Teachers in the school system have been instrumental to the success of this program. Criminal Justice instructor Jeremiah Davis has seen more students to receive certification than any other teacher in the district.

“Obtaining a certification helps demonstrate maturity at a young age and determination to accomplish goals” says Davis, from Whites Creek High School. It is evident he feels that these certifications leave longstanding positive effects as he states, “When I see my former students and even students from other schools I offered the certifications to, they let me know they are working because of their certification.” Davis knows that it is well worth the effort to see students reap the benefits of industry certification. “My students know that the way to get ahead in life is to stand out in a positive way. Certifications allow a student to graduate with a great distinction and work as they are in college or start their career immediately.”

Stratford STEM Magnet High School graduate, Reggie Mayes sees the benefits of industry certifications in his own life. Mayes says his certification aided him in becoming a more mature individual. He is now working as an unarmed security guard at a local grocery store.

Mayes believes that his certification has “helped me get my life on track to start a good life after school.” He also considers the certification process to have fostered strong, positive relationships between him and his teachers.

Not only does the industry certification program profit the students, it strengthens the teachers as well. “I’ve seen significant improvements to my own work as a result of the training and certification” says Becky Banazsak-Pendergrass, Broadcasting/Media Production Teacher and CTE Cluster Lead Teacher at Hillsboro High School. Banazsak-Pendergrass recently became certified to host a testing cite at Hillsboro; bringing the school the distinction of being one of the only testing facilities for Final Cut Pro in the state of Tennessee. She feels this has given her greater insight into the process as a whole. She strongly supports student certification, and says, “not only does it hold students to a much higher standard, but it also gives them a real-world benefit…obtaining a professional certification that is recognized by their industry of study is a very practical step they can take towards a successful career.” Banazsak-Pendergrass believes the greatest benefit that students receive is an overall boost in motivation; she sums up her experience with certifications by stating, “Students who in the past may have done just barely enough work to pass the course are now taking ownership of their learning experience, actively taking notes and asking questions throughout instructional time, and seeking out additional opportunities for learning and practice.”

This opportunity would not be possible without the support of the Nashville Career Advancement Center, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as federal CTE grants. Through the generous donations of these organizations, students were able to earn certifications worth hundreds of dollars for an individual fee of $10.

Industry certifications are an exciting new benefit for graduates of all MNPS high school programs. “Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will provide every student with the foundation of knowledge, skills and character necessary to excel in higher education, work and life.” Certifications play a key role in instilling confidence, motivation, and success in each individual student. It is evident that the opportunities allowed to students through professional certifications strengthen the goals and values of the MNPS school system.Pe