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.

Learn More
  • 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.
Read More
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.
Read More


Externships give teachers an opportunity to have a real world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum.
Read More


Business and community partners are essential factors in preparing students for life after high school and are integral to the educational experiences students receive.
Read More

Internships Solidify Future Career Plans

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to intern at Wright industries as an Applications Engineer, mostly doing work in CAD. Designing and building things is something I have always been interested in. When I started 9th grade at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, I saw that there was an engineering pathway, and since engineering is all about designing and building things I decided that I should take that pathway. At the end if my 11th grade year I got an opportunity to apply for an internship at Wright Industries. I have been considering getting a degree in mechanical engineering so the internship was the perfect opportunity for me to experience what it would be like working as an engineer, and find out if engineering is something I want to do as a career.

The first day was mostly spent doing all of the necessary paperwork and things that had to be done before we could start work, but as soon as we got to the office toward the end of the day we got our first project. We started off with something simple so we could learn how to use Solid Works. At school we have been using Autodesk Inventor, which I think is easier to learn how to do 3D modeling with, but Solid Works is a more technical program and just a little more advanced than Autodesk Inventor. Autodesk assumes more than Solid Works does, which makes it a little easier to use but Solid Works can be more accurate. Our first project was making an independent testing station for LED screens. Most of the parts we needed were already made, so we just had to put them all together.

Internship summary1


The next project we worked was a packaging line. On this project we had to create more of the parts ourselves and get the files for some of the machines from the companies that make them using the Internet. We were still getting used to using Solid Works at this point, and with this project I really got the hang of using mates, which is how different parts are held together, and found that I like using Solid Works much more than Autodesk. After several revisions we got a model done.

Internship summary2

The biggest project I have worked on this summer was for a company that was making pharmaceuticals. It took several weeks and there were several different iterations that were made. At first the line had one side, but to make it easier to service I had to add a second side to the line. This required stretching the whole enclosure.

Internship summary3

One of the things I had to do on this project was make something to spread the lyospheres on the tray before it is put into the freezer. It took a few designs, but I ended up adding a wedge to the gripper on the robot.

Internship summary4

After all of this work the customer decided they wanted to make the line smaller to help cut down on cost. We decided to completely change the enclosure from a rectangle to a polygon type shape. It took a few days to do but turned out really well.

Internship summary5

During my internship I didn’t only work in Solid Works, I also got a chance to help with the paperwork of engineering. I used Microsoft Word to edit proposals that were being sent off to companies. I used Microsoft Excel to work on spreadsheets showing part numbers, where they came from, and their cost. I also learned about a program I didn’t know existed called Visio. Visio is a Microsoft program used for making flowcharts.

This internship has been a great experience for me this summer. I have learned how to do some things in Microsoft Office programs I didn’t know about before, and I have learned how to use Solid Works. From what I have seen Solid Works is more promently used profesionaly than Autodesk.  The internship has helped me decied that engineering is definitely a career that I want to pursue.

US Community Credit Union to Open Branch at Hillsboro High School

Originally posted to 

US Community Credit Union is proud to announce the opening of our second student-run credit union branch inside of Hillsboro High School. In partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Academies of Nashville, students at Hillsboro will have the opportunity to become interns and gain real world working experience at US Community Credit Union. Students will be responsible for conducting daily teller transactions and opening accounts for other students at Hillsboro. The student interns will spend their summer being trained as credit union employees and will work in the credit union branches learning career skills. When the students return to school in August, they will be responsible for operating the student-run branch and teaching fellow students about money management.

“Being involved in education and teaching students to be good stewards with their money has become a key mission for US Community Credit Union. With the tremendous amount of success we have had with our student-run branch at McGavock High School, we are excited to be able to extend our reach by opening our second student-run branch at Hillsboro High School”, said Paul Johnson, President/CEO of US Community Credit Union.

The Hillsboro student-run branch will be operated through the US Community Credit Union Academy of International Business and Communications. The credit union branch will be open Monday through Friday during lunch periods. Students and faculty will have the ability to open accounts and make deposits and withdrawals during the hours of operation. Representatives from US Community Credit Union will be at the branch to assist in the operations and to ensure accuracy and confidentiality is maintained. A ribbon cutting event is being planned for this fall.

For more information about the US Community Credit Union student-run credit union program at Hillsboro High School, please contact US at 615-256-8712.

A Classroom of Stars, Not Circles

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Glencliff High School’s Ford Academy of Business and Innovation had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partners, Redpepper Advertising Agency.


UnknownFor our summer externship we visited Redpepper; they are an ad agency by day, but an invention lab by night. Upon arriving, we took a tour of the building and learned a little bit about the company’s norms and ideals. The company is innovatively driven. They focus their layout and norms on pushing people to further themselves and the company because like one of their norms spells out, “If you’re not changing, you’re dying.” They are founded around supporting everyone’s personal growth. This is something we were particularly inspired by because we see it as a valuable cultural component for our academy structure. Redpepper believes in empowering, rather than policing. As the Ford Academy of Business and Innovation, we need to give our teachers as well as our students the support and encouragement to try new things and pursue their passions.

The activities we participated in were based around the client experience at Redpepper. On the first day, we met with Matt, Erik, and Carl and learned about the Redpepper Invention Lab. We were able to see previous inventions created by the lab as they explained that manipulating and “playing” with new technologies helps keep them at the forefront of marketing. On the second day, we met with their New Business Department, including Samara and Victoria. They expounded on the ways they attracted new clients. Then we met with Ann, Nate, and Jamie and learned about the strategic planning that goes into developing ad campaigns for their clients’ needs. This meeting was especially invigorating, as it gave us a solid grasp of what our project would look like. The team was very helpful in brainstorming what our students’ experience could be. Next, we met with Yancey, Brooke, and Ily and explored design solutions and social media strategies in the marketing field. On the final day, we were able to share our experiences with our Academy principle and coach and meet with one of Redpepper’s copywriters, Leslie, where we learned about how the language in an ad impacts the targeted audience.

When learning about the company’s ideals, we discovered the concept of having a business full of stars as opposed to circles.   We would like to incorporate this concept in our classrooms by encouraging our students to have “sharp corners”. We want them to pursue their passions and strengths rather than “fix” their weaknesses, making them well-rounded. We used this insight as a springboard to develop our PBL. Our project idea is a design thinking challenge based around creating a new social media platform that meets specific niche interests among our student population, thus highlighting their sharp-corners. Students will use data analysis and elements and principles of design to develop their platform both strategically and visually. We will accompany them on the journey to research and discover key characteristics that could bring success to their new platform.

Our overall experience at Redpepper drove us to attempt to establish an intrinsically motivating environment for both the teachers and students of our academy. We are excited to share our discoveries with our colleagues and implement our PBL to engage our students in a similar experience.Unknown


Teachers Take Over Music Row

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School’s Academy of Entertainment Management had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partners, the Regions Bank and Warner Music. 

Regions Bank at Music Row was the site of Day One of the week-long Music Row Externship for the teachers of the Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School. The Academy of Entertainment Management’s Externship included presentations by Regions Music Row bankers, Pete Fisher (Grand Ole Opry General Manager), and business manager Lainie Allbee of Martin, Allbee & Associates.  Other program days that week were at Warner Music Nashville and Warner/Chappell Music as the Pearl-Cohn faculty learn about the workings of the entertainment industry.


Jaydie Fay, Yolanda Jackson, Matthew Truwit, Stephanie Booth, Regions Bank’s Lisa Harless, Annmarie O’Daffer and William Darnell

Stratford Teachers Tour Old Hickory Lock and Dam

Strong relationships with local academy partners is the key to building effective business engagement in our high schools. The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context through unique partnerships with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Teacher Team Externship Program gives teachers an opportunity to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. Teachers from Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Freshman Academy had the opportunity to have an externship with their business partner, the Army Corps of Engineers. 

The Freshman Academy met at the Resource Manager’s office at Old Hickory Lock and Dam where we were introduced to the Commander and Deputy, and we were provided with an overview of all the components involving the Corps of Engineers and our waterways.   “Securing the Nation’s Future Through Water” began our adventure at the Dam. We also viewed demonstrations regarding the importance of protecting the landscape along the rivers’ edges as well as protecting endangered species such as bats. In addition to providing an energy source to numerous areas within our state and outside of our state, the water system has been improved to include water storage areas through new dams.

Our group was provided a behind the scenes tour inside the dam, the control room, and the lock. The amazing aspect of this location is that all of the equipment is original equipment dating back to the 1960’s. After our tour and PowerPoint presentations, our group proceeded to Drakes Creek off of Saundersville Road in Hendersonville where we measured various points of erosion in the creek to determine problem areas preserving the natural habit of the areas. Our education with The Corp of Engineers left us with the knowledge that there are numerous opportunities within the Corp for our students at Stratford after graduation including several paid training jobs that do not require a college degree.

Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers tour the Old Hickory Lake Lock and Dam.

Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers tour the Old Hickory Lake Lock and Dam.

The inner workings of the Lock and Dam work well to prepare teachers for students interested in engineering, science, and research.

The inner workings of the Lock and Dam work well to prepare teachers for students interested in engineering, science, and research.

How is PBL used in the real world?

Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers from the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies met with myEmma, one of the academy business partners. myEmma is an international email and marketing campaign services company with Nashville serving as its originating corporate headquarters location. The teacher externship included five academy teachers and literacy coach.

The team met with the company’s top management to learn about their business, its personnel, its products, technology, culture, and hiring needs. But how all of their collective educational degrees and experiences work together to create a brand that a consumer will feel confident in, is what makes myEmma such a great place to work and business to be associated with. It also creates a need for diverse personnel.

As teachers we are tasked with project based learning experiences, to incorporate 21st century skills and needs that employers emphasize to succeed, no matter what degree you may hold. Our conversations involved a lot questioning, listening, critical thinking, and analyzing to find a way to create a PBL that English, math, science, economics, and programming can work together with a shared learning experience. We found at myEmma they follow patterns of a development process that programming students may use in their future workplace.

As a result of the team’s experience that focuses on safety and community, we have challenged our students to define and develop an app for social change. The project incorporates aspects of communication, presentation, technical writing, programming, statistics, GIS mapping, and economic impact. The students will be able to pitch an app that could affect social change in their community concerning crime and other safety issues.


From Teachers to Neuroscientists

A team comprised of an Interdisciplinary Science and Research (ISR) Pathway, Biology, Spanish, and English teacher from Stratford’s Academy of Science and Engineering spent a day investigating neuroscience with scientists from Vanderbilt’s Center for Science Outreach (VCSO). During the morning sessions, team members studied the effect concussions have on the brain. Team members conducted a test for the presence of a protein released when the brain suffers a concussion and graphed data gathered. In the afternoon session, VCSO scientists led team members through an introduction to diagnosing brain injuries as well as a discussion of the brain and drug addiction. Team members diagnosed brains—really molded ice sculptures—and contemplated the problems of drug addiction in our society.

Team members met the following day to develop a PBL for ninth grade Interdisciplinary Science Research (ISR) students. Motivated by the discussion of drug addiction the previous day, the team decided to ask ISR students the driving question, “How do drugs impact your body, your family, your community, and your world?” After researching the effect of medication on the brain and disorders of the brain, students will collaborate to create concise, videotaped public service announcements which will be played in the school lobby. Not only will the students who participate in the PBL learn about the connection between addiction, chemicals, and brain function, but they will have the opportunity to share their understandings with peers in other pathways and academies.

Griffin in the Classroom

We love our business partners. And, we love sharing our business partners blog posts about working with MNPS students. Be sure to check out this great post from Griffin Technology about guest speaking at Hunters Lane High School.

Mentally and Physically Prepared for Life

Students in the Academies of Nashville have a variety of experiences and opportunities in their high schools and academies. Bailee D., a students in the Academy of Health Management at Cane Ridge High School, writes about her experience below. 

The Academy model here at Cane Ridge High School has definitely had a positive impact on my education. It has opened so many doors and allowed me to expand my horizons on the career I wish to pursue. With my Academy, I am given actual hands-on opportunities. These are experiences that you simply aren’t introduced to everyday. Without the Academies, I wouldn’t have as much interaction and focus towards my career field. It has mentally and physically prepared me for life after high school. I’ve learned to socialize and work well within groups just as I would in a job setting of a hospital, since I am a part of the Academy of Health Management. The teachers within the Academies do a great job with focusing our attention on specific “Emergency Medical” situations. We are expected to be advanced in CPR training and certified in every area of emergency technique. The Academy System is a very special model at our school that will give each and every student a better outlook for the life ahead of them, as long as they are willing to take advantage of it.

I have also had the honor to serve as a Cane Ridge Ambassador, representing my academy. This has also provided opportunities for me to take part in unforgettable events that have in a way, been life-changing. I was able to meet President Obama and take part in leadership conventions that not only made me a better leader but phenomenally enhanced my social skills. By being an ambassador, I feel that I am advanced in many areas outside of the classroom, such as communication, social skills, and speaking techniques. I now feel comfortable with myself in front of large crowds and I am ready for life in a college based setting.

Students Help Students Register to Vote

Community partners come in all shapes and sizes. The League of Women Voters works to encourage women and young people to vote for matters pertaining to their community. Dev B., a student at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in the Academy of Science and Engineering, recently produced a video for the League of Women Voters to encourages high school students to register to vote. Dev writes about the experience below. 


I produced the video “Careless” for the League of Women Voters. The campaign’s goal was to encourage responsible high school juniors and seniors to register to vote.

The challenge for me was to create a video on a topic which I really didn’t know much about. If I’m not even a junior, then how could I possibly come up with a way to encourage juniors and seniors. Despite the fact, I decided to take on the challenge and began the production of the video.

Not only was the concept challenging, but the shooting of the video was as well. The snow days pushed me far behind, and I was not able to find a sufficient amount of actors for the video. The script lacked revision, and there were only two weeks remaining to complete the video challenge.  I gathered two people at the beginning of the video shoot the number morphed into five. Fifty percent of the footage for the video were shot. And, everything seemed alright. But, the next day the continuity of the video was in danger. The hall in which we started shooting, had a problem with the lighting, one of the actors had to reshoot their lines, because the camera stopped rolling earlier. It was a downfall.

Later on, I had to reshoot all of the lines for one of the actors in a different location. We reshot more and more lines. We took care of the lighting by pumping up the exposure, and reassigned fewer lines to even out the script.

On the last day of the shoot, I shot the last line of the video and officially packed up the shoot. Then, came hours of editing, processing, aligning, and more of the video clips. Background music was tailored and images for the banners were created.

Finally, the project shined when I shared the first link to my friend who also acted in the video. Nothing seemed more glorious when I read, “this video is amazing!”

From this challenge, I learned the importance of staying punctual. I believe if I have taken some more time on organizing than rushing, this video wouldn’t have been much of a struggle.

Few weeks later, I began receiving emails from the coordinator of the project. On almost every email, she complimented the video and appreciated our team. Eventually, the head of the organization sent me an email consisting of a letter, which said that my video would be distributed to all Metro high schools. Happiest day ever!


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.