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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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.


2015 Academies of Nashville Award Nominees

We are excited to celebrate the 5th year for the Academies of Nashville Awards! The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce received more than 450 recommendations in 15 different categories. Every school was nominated at least once and eight schools had four or five nominations a piece. In partnership with the event sponsors, Altria, Interior Design Services, Deloitte, and the Memorial Foundation, we are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2015 Academies of Nashville Awards.


The following categories will be decided through an anonymous online ballot. 

Academy Partnership of the Year: Arts, Media, and Communications

  • Audio Engineering Society, Academy of Entertainment Communications, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Academy of Arts and Communications, Cane Ridge High School
  • HST Interior Elements, Academy of Art, Design, and Communications, Hillwood High School

Academy Partnership of the Year: Business, Marketing, and IT

  • Fifth Third Bank, Academy of Business and Consumer Services, Maplewood High School
  • Griffin Technology, Griffin Academy of Design and Technology, Hunters Lane High School
  • The Tennessee Credit Union, The Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance, Antioch High School

Academy Partnership of the Year: Engineering, Manufacturing, and Industrial Technology

  • Hands On Nashville, Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning, Glencliff High School
  • LP Building Products, Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics, Whites Creek High School
  • Rogers Group, Academy of Architecture and Construction, Cane Ridge High School

Academy Partnership of the Year: Hospitality and Tourism

  • Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality, McGavock High School
  • Holiday Inn Opryland Airport, Academy of Hospitality and Marketing, Antioch High School
  • Omni Hotel, Academy of Hospitality, Hunters Lane High School

Academy Partnership of the Year: Health and Public Services

  • Aegis Sciences Corporation, Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law, McGavock High School
  • Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, Academy of Health Science, Overton High School
  • Juvenile Court of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, Academy of Law, Cane Ridge High School

Externship Project of the Year (Presented by the Memorial Foundation)

  • Flatt Rock Farms, Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law, McGavock High School
  • Meharry Medical College, Academy of Medical Science and Research, Glencliff High School
  • St. Thomas Health Services, Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness, Maplewood High School

Freshman Academy of the Year

  • Glencliff High School Freshman Academy
  • Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School Freshman Academy
  • Whites Creek High School Freshman Academy

Academy of the Year

  • Antioch High School, Academy of Teaching and Service
  • Overton High School, Academy of Health Sciences
  • Stratford STEM Magnet High School, Academy of Science and Engineering



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

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

  • Lauren Beck, Academy of Information Technology, Overton High School
  • Jeremiah Davis, Academy of Education and Law, Whites Creek High School
  • Jon Stephens, Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • TJ Williams, Academy of Business and Consumer Services, Maplewood High School
  • Todd Young, Academy of Entertainment Communication, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Academy Teacher of the Year: General and Global Education

  • Elijah Ammen, Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Paul Beavers, Freshman Academy, Hillsboro High School
  • Serena Moore, Academy of Education and Law, Whites Creek High School
  • Ryan Murphey, Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness, Maplewood High School
  • Brittany Tharrington, Academy of Business and Hospitality, Hillwood High School

Academy Teach Leader of the Year

  • Tobey Green-Mayfield, Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Allyson Kreise, Academy of Entertainment Communication, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
  • Danette McMillan, Academy of Business and Consumer Services, Maplewood High School
  • Jason Proffitt, Academy of Health and Human Services, Hunters Lane High School
  • Josh Swartz, Academy of Global Health and Science, Hillsboro High School

Counselor of the Year

  • Adrienne McNew, Academy of Business and Marketing, MNPS Virtual School
  • Stephanie Pate, Academy of Engineering, Overton High School
  • Amanda Springer, CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication, McGavock High School

Academy Coach of the Year

  • Jennifer Berry, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Brad Meyers, Hunters Lane High School
  • Mary York, Overton High School

Academy Assistant Principal of the Year (Presented by Altria)

  • Celia Conley, Academy of Teaching and Services, Antioch High School
  • Melissa Harkreader, Academy of Global Health and Science, Hillsboro High School
  • Steve Shaeffer, Academy of Musical Performance, Overton High School
  • Janet Wallace, Academy of Science and Engineering, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Nick Wilson, Ford Academy of Business and Innovation, Glencliff High School

Executive Principal of the Year (Presented by Altria)

  • Susan Kessler, Hunters Lane High School
  • Adrienne Koger, Antioch High School
  • Shuler Pelham, Overton High School

MNPS Named a District of Distinction

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools: The Academies of Nashville- Urban High School Transformation

Originally posted at District Administration by Ariana Rawls Fine

In 2006, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) received a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the Smaller Learning Communities model in its comprehensive high schools.

Public schools in Nashville were in near-crisis mode. MNPS failed to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. As a result, in 2009, the district was placed under the direction of the state of Tennessee.

The Academies of Nashville is MNPS’ primary initiative to prepare more than 17,000 high school students for college, career and life. Each of the 12 comprehensive high schools house academies where students take general education classes, electives and specialized courses. Each academy has its own principal, counselor, coach, interdisciplinary team of teachers, and a network of business partners to help students.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit PENCIL Foundation and Alignment Nashville link community resources to the academies. More than 310 businesses provide opportunities for experiential learning, host teacher teams for training, and help develop curriculum.

The National Career Academy Coalition has accredited 20 of MNPS’ academies with 18 having received the “Model” distinction. In addition to increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in the end-of-course exams, MNPS graduation rates have increased from 58 percent in 2005 to 79 percent in 2014.

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. Metropolitan Nashville was among 62 districts that were honored in the March 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program for K12 school districts.

“We are pleased to honor Metropolitan Nashville as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

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.