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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Whites Creek VIP Tour

Over 40 VIPS attended the Whites Creek Academies of Nashville VIP Tour on April 9, 2015. After a short program where Sharon Gentry, chair of the Board of Education, commented on the success of the academies,  students led tours showcasing the individual academies , where participants learned more about the model through the lense of students.  Ninety-nine percent of survey participants felt they were better informed about Metro schools and they are a higher opinion of Whites Creek and of MNPS.


Whites Creek High School Academy Ambassadors welcome guests to the VIP Tour.

Whites Creek High School Academy Ambassadors welcome guests to the VIP Tour.

Dr. Register is escorted into the building by members of the Whites Creek JROTC.

Dr. Register is escorted into the building by members of the Whites Creek JROTC.

VIPs tour the Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics greenhouse.

VIPs tour the Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics greenhouse.

VIPs tour the Academy of Community Health dental laboratory.

VIPs tour the Academy of Community Health dental laboratory.

My Regional STEM Expo Experience

Students from across Middle Tennessee had the opportunity to compete in the Middle Tennessee Regional STEM Expo this week.  Austin S., a student at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies, writes about his experience at the expo. 


This was the first expo I ever entered, and the Middle Tennessee Regional STEM Expo was phenomenal! I had a great time presenting our Stratford Maze App to the judges and to the students present at the event. It was great telling what software and programming language we used. It was an honor to be at the Regional Expo, and we worked our hardest to get here. The competition at Stratford gave me a chance to present our work, and we placed 2nd. It was a great experience to attend and it was a fun experience.

Our Stratford Maze App not only received a gold medal, but we won the MNPS Award of Excellence! Project based learning really allows us to choose our learning and develop a project that means something to us. Collaboration is the key to our success as we all worked together to develop the best product!

My Experience in DECA

The Spring Semester is often referred to as “Competition Season” for the many Career and Technical Student Organizations. Tara Y., a student at Hillsboro High School, writes about her experience with DECA in the post below. 


As any competition goes, competitors come in with mix emotions. Excitement, anxiety, fear, determination. We all want to win and make others proud. As for me, I was fearless…. for the first hour… after which the idea of competing sunk in. We were led to a large ball room, where rows of seats overtook the area and people were filling them, quickly.

After getting our own seats, I truly realized exactly how many people took part in DECA. People from all over Tennessee were impeccably dressed and beyond ready to compete. It destroyed any bit of an ego I had left. Nevertheless, the opening session began. The executive council were introduced, and those five people were so young, yet seemed to have accomplished so much. It gave bit of motivation to do more and take part in other organizations.

Once the opening session was over, it was test time. Given that the written test is my personal weakness, I wasn’t particularly excited. We were all led to the testing area, papers were handed out, and students were taking their respective seats. Safe to say all of us were nervous, and it was obvious. By the time I had finished my test, there was only one other person from my category still there, nevertheless that put an end to my night.

The next day was my role play time. It began somewhat early and the hall was filled with attendees waiting for their appointment. Once in, the same room that was filled with tables and chairs the night before, was now transformed into interview stations. For me, the role play went well and I was pumped. The rest of the day was free until the banquet that night.

The banquet was held at the same place as the opening session, however, once again this room was completely change. Instead of rows of chairs, it was filled with dinner tables and the stage was used for a live band. It was beautiful. After dinner, the executive council began awarding the top three competitors in each aspect of every category. I was called, and I nearly fainted. I was awarded a perfect score on the role play aspect and was handed a medal; putting a wonderful end to my night.

The next morning was it, the awards ceremony. The way it worked placed the top eight on stage and awarded the top four whom would be representing and the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Orlando, Florida. It was a long list, but my category was first up. I was called to the stage for the top eight, and nervously waited. The top four were randomly called to accept their awards. Someone must have been looking down on me, because I was called on first for a trophy.

One of the biggest slogans of the conference was “Today is a great day.” It sure was, and I was so excited to qualify for ICDC, and I still am. Next month I’ll be down in Florida for the first time in my life, and will compete in Nationals. Wish me luck!

Whites Creek brings home HOSA honors


Whites Creek High School’s Valedictorian, Joanna Y., won 1st place in the “Extemporaneous Health Poster” competition at the Tennessee State HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) Conference which was held at Opryland Resort and Convention Center, March 19-21, 2015.

This competition is designed to encourage Health Science students to improve their ability to analyze and interpret current health and HOSA-related issues and express and communicate their interpretation through the development of an artistic poster.  Students are given a health topic, when they arrive to the competition,  which they interpret and develop into posters onsite.

Joanna entered the state competition as 1st place winner from the Middle Tennessee Lower Region.  As first place winner in the state, Joanna is eligible to represent Tennessee at the National HOSA Leadership Conference this June in Anaheim, California.

Tennessee Titans Host Job Shadow for Maplewood Student

Job shadowing give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Chris C., a student from Maplewood High School,  participated in a job shadow with the Tennessee Titans.  In this post, Chris writes about his experiences.




My name is Chris and I go to Maplewood High School. Recently, I was given the amazing opportunity to job shadow the General Manager of the Tennessee Titans, Ruston Webster. I learned some valuable information from Mr. Webster, as well as his crew, such as advice on what to study for in college, how much work ethic I should have to get to that point, and what career pathways to go after. I will use the experience to help develop myself as a student, a person, and a future businessman. This experience was truly life-changing and overwhelming. I never wanted it to be over. I will most definitely use the passion and determination this experience has given me to excel in life post-academically.

Thank you to Mr.Webster and the Titans organization.

Speaking to the Freshmen at Stratford High School during March

Rashed Fakhruddin

March 31, 2015

 Fakhruddin Presentation

Earlier during the month of March, I had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Wanda Moore’s Freshmen seminar classes at Stratford STEM Magnet High School. My engineering colleague, Mostafa Shamsuddin- an alumnus of Stratford, and I divided up the classes over the 2 day period. We spoke about MNPS’s professionalism rubric, and how it ties into workplace evaluation.

Coming from industry and consulting with our HR vice president at NES, this rubric is a powerful tool in making people more employable. Industry is looking for people with these human social skillsets. The relevancy of the professional skillset that MNPS is trying to instill in students (e.g., communications, quality & commitment, interpersonal effectiveness [including teamwork], etc.) is critical to creating a large pool of highly qualified candidates in Nashville for years to come.

The interesting part of this rubric is that it can be applied by the Freshmen in their daily lives, as students trying to balance their education and extracurricular activities, and life in general. For example, a student who is trying to balance his or her A day and B day homework assignments, followed by sports after school, and in many cases, extra chores and responsibilities at home such as babysitting, are in fact having to multitask, plan and organize their schedules just as we have to do at work. On any given day, we have to manage 5 to 6 projects, take on additional assignments at work, while at the same time respond to emergencies. So my message to the students is to factor in to one’s schedule to ‘expect the unexpected’, and ‘not have one’s schedule control them, but to take control of one’s own schedule by being organized and planning accordingly.’ This type of planning means hitting the books during the weekends, and perhaps on Friday nights.

After having spoken to 12 other high schools this year, this presentation had a special component. I added a slide dedicated to a Hillsboro student-athlete LT, who had just tragically lost his life due to an enlarged heart condition while playing basketball. This slide fell under my ‘teamwork’ module, which ties into interpersonal skills. Surprisingly, about 10 different students knew LT. It dawned on me how connected these students are. Also, under interpersonal skills, I mentioned the example of a basketball legend, Stratford alumnus, Donte Jones, as he now runs the NYBA league, a phenomenal gentleman. As usual, speaking to the Freshmen inspires me to continue being involved with the our kids studying in our school system, who are the future leaders of our city.

Project Based Learning is Out of This World!

The Academy of Energy and Power has two teams of students participating in the upcoming MNPS Project Based Learning Expo.

Anthony with BIE and Nikki G 2014

One team has been doing research on the sustainability of humans on Mars; or, para-teraforming and the best oxygen producing plants. The second team has been creating spacesuit drawings and actual spacesuits with the help from Amanda Valentine of Project Runway Fame. All 180 students in Mr. Mitchell’s art class have seen video of Nikki Giovanni reading her amazing poem “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea,” made drawings, done homework, and thought about spacesuits based off of the poem. Team two had the opportunity to present their findings to the folks at the Buck Institute when they recently toured Maplewood High School.

Artist painting Mars 2015

Both teams have used skype to connect with experts in various fields to research the different components of the projects that are inherently collaborative. The fashion team (#2) spoke with St. Andrews University philosophy professor, Dr. Derek Ball about questions that might need to be answered before humans make the trip to Mars. Both teams spoke via Skype with Dr. John Gruener in Texas where he works for NASA as a scientist and space farmer.

Amanda Ladarious Spacesuit draft 2015

As part of the public audience the students’ findings have been pushed out to the larger public audience aggressively on several Twitter accounts managed by Dr. Jackson, Academy Principal of Academy of Energy & Power, and Mr. Mitchell, the academy art teacher.

Antonio Full Spacesuit 2015


Sharing My Academy Story

Last week, Metro Nashville Public Schools hosted more than 300 visitors from across the country. These visitors toured schools, participated in break out sessions to learn about the academy model, and most importantly heard from MNPS students. Polly N, a freshman at Glencliff High School, was one student that the visitors heard from. Polly describes her experience here. 


When I found out what my lines or what I was supposed to say was, I reread and reread what I wanted to say in front of the guests.  I got really nervous and excited when the day came because I was able to share my experience as a freshman in high school.  I know I stuttered sometimes but I got less nervous as I went on. At first I thought I wanted to be in the business academy, but now that is my second choice.  I really want to be in the Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning for engineering after everything I have learned about the academies this year.  This experience has helped me become better at speaking in front of others for presentations now and for the future. Thanks to all of their visitors for coming to our school and listening to our stories.



Students Experience National Safety and Security Technologies

Stratford STEM Magnet High School held its first NSST (National Safety and Security Technologies) Day March 19, 2015. This event was designed to inform students about their future options and recruit students to the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies pathways: criminal justice and computer programming. Students had the opportunity to explore career options based on their pathways and observe the real world integration of technology with security.

NSST Day 2NSST Day 4

The Army Corps of Engineers Nashville Division brought their ECVV, which responded to 9-11 in New York City, as well as a crew member. Students learned first hand about the technology on the vehicle and the personal experiences from the 9-11 disaster.

NSST Day 3

The Tennessee Department of Corrections showed real-time monitoring of violent offenders as they moved through Davidson County.

NSST Day 1

More than 300 students were able to interact and learn more about their fields. Presenters included: Army Corps of Engineers- ECVV, Nashville State Community College- Visual Communications Program, Nashville State Community College- Music Technology, Nashville State Community College- Police Science, US Army, Tennessee Department of Corrections, MNPD- East Precinct, US Army Recruiter, Criminal Justice Center, US Navy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, NSG, Enterprise Program, Nashville Technology Council, and the Mall at Green Hills.

Students Job Shadow at Firefly Logic

Job shadowing gives students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world.  Students from Stratford STEM Magnet High School in the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies   participated in a job shadow at Firefly Logic.  In this post, they write about their experience.


Firefly Logic is a technology development company creating software, mobile apps, web development, and marketing opportunities for clients. Students from Stratford STEM Magnet High School engaged with the company CEO, a programming developer, and web developer, to understand their creative process by listening to the customer needs and vision. Students learned about the iterative process of software development life cycle, their development methods, tracking project progress, testing, and delivery to the client.


Firefly 1

Firefly 2

Firefly 3

Firefly 4

Putting the Future on My Side

Internships give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Dena M., a junior at Antioch High School in the Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance,  participated in an internship this summer though the Tennessee Credit Union.  In this post, Dena writes about her experience. 


My name is Dena M., I am a junior at Antioch High School. I joined the Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance in my sophomore year. I have learned a lot throughout the years I have spent in this academy; besides the accounting classes I have taken, I have had a lot of opportunities available to me. This academy provides us with a lot of field trips to job shadowing, and colleges to help us prepare for college and have our plans ready when we graduate.

To me, the future was never on my side. I was so afraid to grow up, especially after the conversations I have every day with my parents about my career. My parents always wanted to make sure that I would grow up and be successful. It was not until I met with Dr. Kriebel and the great TTCU team until I finally was able to decide what academy I wanted to participate in. Now, my friend Engy T., is a part of the Academy of Business and Finance. This academy helped her gain knowledge about the accounting world and how many opportunities we are given if it was our career. It opened her eyes on how successful we can be if we join the business and finance world!

After getting accepted into the Tennessee Credit Union Internship, we were both so blessed to have gotten this opportunity where we were able to learn so much. Now because of this program, we will be able to find great jobs while we are in college. This program helped us tremendously. It gave us insight on how it might be if we chose accounting and banking and finance as a possible career opportunity. Now, thanks to this amazing program, we no longer have to worry about our future because now we have Banking and Finance as our future plan!


Freshman Students Experience College Life

FATripOn Tuesday, March 17, 150 students from the Freshman Academy at Stratford STEM Magnet High School went on one of their annual college visits.

The class was divided into three groups, each going to different colleges. Students were able to witness college life at Middle Tennessee State University, Volunteer State Community College and Nashville State Community College. In addition to witnessing college life, the students toured the campuses and learned about the different degree programs and pathways to universities each college offers.

“Allowing our students to be exposed to the college experience is very valuable, especially in ninth grade,” said Jeff Davis, Assistant Principal from the Freshman Academy. “For most of them, this is their first college visit.”

In addition to the tours, students had lunch on campus as well. Some of them had boxed lunches provided by the colleges while others ate in the college cafeteria.

Stratford High School partnered with GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness for Undergraduate Programs) for funding on these college visits. GEAR UP is a seven-year discretionary grant program, which aims to increase the number of low-income, first generation students enrolling and succeeding in college.

Accolades and Awards for Stratford


Stratford STEM Magnet High School has had a successful year with their Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies and the Mock Trial Team.

Blake Simmons – Best Defense Attorney – Blake was recognized as the best Defense Attorney out of 22 different schools!!! Blake has “lawyer written all over him” and is a force to be reckoned with!!!!

Antoinette Lavender received the Most Valuable Player for Stratford’s team. This accomplishment was excellent as it was the result of excellent team spirit!!! Antoinette received a gavel for her recognition.

All other team members worked equally as hard and were excellent! It took a lot of dedication, commitment, studying, remembering facts, and soul searching for our students.  Each member held his/her own. Comparing them to other teams. SHS only had 6 participants.  This means they had to learn so many different roles. They were all so prepared!

Special thanks to Ms. DeMica Robinson for encouraging the students and for allowing them exposure to this event. Also, she was a wonderful support system. We appreciate you picking up students, taking them to different places, getting appropriate clothing, etc. Thanks for working even during the snow days.

Additionally, special thanks goes to mentor and Attorney-Mrs. Courtney Teasley.  Not only did she practice with students at Stratford, she opened her law office and allowed students to practice there. She donated over 100 manpower hours just to ensure the success of the Mock Trial Team.

Beating Cabin Fever on a Snow Day



What happens when you are on your seventh snow day in a row?? You call up your teachers, Ms. Hansen and Ms. Wendling, and ask them to quiz you on Math and Science questions of course! During last Tuesday’s snow day, students, Maxie Ball, Jack Utley, and Ambrose Vargason (left to right) battled the ice and frigid temperatures to spend 2 and a half hours preparing for the upcoming Science Knowledge Bowl tournament. Their mothers prepared Rice Krispies and popcorn for the event. The boys, and teachers, thoroughly enjoyed the snacks and friendly competition.

College? Career Tech? In Nashville, Teens Do Both

Originally posted to National Public Radio 

Schools don’t like to use the V-word anymore — “vocational,” as in “vocational education.” Administrators say the word is outdated, along with the idea of offering job-training courses only to students who are going straight into the workforce.

Nashville, Tenn., is trying a new approach. The public school system there is encouraging every high school student, regardless of college plans, to take three career-training classes before they graduate.

Kiara Beard, a senior at Overton High School, is taking a pharmacological science course and learning how to interact with patients in a pharmacy.

“I need your name, date of birth,” she says to her fake patient, Justin Kirby, who is in the very real pharmacy program at nearby Lipscomb University.

“My name is John Overton,” Kirby answers. “August 17, 1951.”

“Do you have any allergies?” Beard asks as she fills out a form.

“Yes, the medication that I had an allergic reaction to is Zithromax,” Kirby says.

Kirby may be playing the patient, but he and a handful of other graduate students are leading this job simulation, helping Beard and her high school classmates count fake pills and measure solutions.

At the end of the school year, students in the class will be able to take the national certification exam to become pharmacy technicians — right out of high school. That job pays, on average, more than $14 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Having a certification will make the students instantly marketable, says Ronda Bryant, a pharmacy professor at Lipscomb.

“Even (compared to) someone who has pharmacy experience but may not have a certification, these students at John Overton may be more qualified,” she says.

This kind of qualification is the focus of what’s called “career and technical education” — essentially, vocational training for the modern workforce. More than 90 percent of public high school students across the country have taken at least one class that fits into this category, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But most students in Nashville now take three career tech courses before graduating. Its high schools offer dozens of options, including computer integrated manufacturing, healthcare administration and web design.

Chaney Mosley oversees the district’s career tech program, and what gets him really excited is the idea that some of these students will finish with a certificate in hand, setting them up for a good job without needing a college degree.

“When the student from our high schools graduates with one of those certifications and chooses not to immediately pursue higher education, that could be a game-changer,” he says.

But he’s quick to point out: Career classes are not just for students going straight into the workforce. Many of the classes also count for college credit, and they still try to create what he calls a “college-going culture.”

“I don’t think it encourages students to not go to college,” Mosley says. “In fact, I would say it does the opposite. It lets students experience success and realize that they have a great potential in a related field.”

And it helps them understand the importance of continuing their education, he believes, wherever that might happen.

Back in Overton High School’s pharmacy class, senior Sadiq Rahmatullah says he is planning to go to college. He might want to be a physician, but now that he’s taking this class, he hopes to work in a pharmacy during college.

“You can earn money so you can pay your school bill,” he says. “I don’t want to depend on my parents, because I need to depend on myself. I can help myself, and I can help my family too.”

The district says ambitions like this are a change from vocational education of the past. Students aren’t separated by who wants to go to college and who wants to get a job. Instead, they’re all preparing for both.