Archives for October 2011

AP Courses + Applied Learning = A Winning Formula

Elliott is an Academy Ambassador in McGavock High School's Academy of Aviation & Transportation.

The Academies of Nashville aim to bridge the gap between rigorous academics and real-world learning opportunities. Elliott, an Academy Ambassador from McGavock High School‘s Academy of Aviation & Transportation, writes in this post about the important relationship between theoretical knowledge in the sciences and its practical application in engineering. His experiences also demonstrate how the career academies foster a collaborative learning environment, a characteristics that coincides with the National Career Academy Coalition‘s list of best practices.

Through my experiences with the Academies of Nashville, I am learning real life skills in addition to academic content. In McGavock High School’s Academy of Aviation and Transportation, I have the best of both worlds. Last year, when my Advanced Placement (AP) physics teacher told me that we were going to work with catapults and trajectories of an object, I was ahead of the game because I had already built a trebuchet the year before in my engineering class. When I took the ACT, I was worried because I had heard the Science portion is so difficult. I scored a 32 on the ACT overall and a 35 in the science portion. I attribute most of that score to all the technical reading of charts and graphs that I have done in my academy pathway classes.

Through these pathway classes I have gained exposure. I went behind the scenes at the airport; I competed in a local engineering competition in which my team placed first; and I got to attend a Technology Student Association event in which my team placed second. Many of my friends have had opportunities for internships that they absolutely loved! I also had an incredible opportunity this past summer to be awarded a $3000 scholarship by Ford Motor Credit Fund that enabled me and two other academy students in Nashville to participate in the Constitutional Convention experience. I took an online course, earning 3 college credits, and spent a week in Washington, D.C. with students from all over the United States.

Staying with a pathway teacher for multiple years also engages you in learning in more depth and builds strong relationships.  On the first day of my AP English class, my teacher asked us to write down the name of a teacher we felt we could trust. I didn’t have to think about it at all. I immediately wrote down my pathway teacher’s name.

I have heard people say that the academies limit you or keep you from taking rigorous courses. I have many friends in the magnet schools who, along with their parents, voice that opinion.  However, that is not what my friends and I have experienced.  I am taking 10 AP courses over my high school career and the difference I see is that the academies have given us more focus and opened up opportunities and experiences that have both broadened our perspectives and shown us more options and opportunities than I could have seen in a traditional high school.

An inside view of medicine and my future at Overton High School

Esther, Academy Ambassador for Overton High School's Academy of Biotechnology and Health Sciences

Hi, My Name is Esther M. and I am a senior at John Overton High school. I am also one of the Ambassadors for the Academy of Health Sciences in the Biotechnology Research and Development pathway. On October 4th, I was interviewed by Channel Four News about the healthy food-option in our school café. During the interview, I discussed our transition to whole wheat bread, the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, and even the new vibrant mural created to promote healthy food choices.  Using knowledge from class, I was able to emphasize the importance of food because it gives us energy to carry out day-to-day activities.

The Academy of Biotechnology and Health Sciences allows students to have an inside look to careers and advanced curricula that BHS students will be exposed to in college or beyond. It allows students who are interested in the health field to learn more about essential topics for health professional careers. Students are able to engage in hands on activities that include suturing and measuring blood pressure.

This Academy also offers opportunities for participating in internship programs. Last summer, I attended a six-week mentorship at Meharry Medical College. I had the opportunity of attending lectures and shadowing physicians and nurses in different medical fields. At the end of my internship, I presented a project on a rare disease called necrotizing fasciitis, which is a fatal flesh-eating disease. I was able to observe physicians as they saw their patients, and I loved it! I knew then that medicine was the career for me. I would have never learned of this opportunity if my health science teacher had not encouraged me to apply. This Academy is not only academically stimulating, but it also gives you a chance to learn about health professions that interest you.  I am thankful for the opportunity for an inside view of medicine and, hopefully, my future!

Unique learning opportunities in the Ford Academy of Business

Hello, my name is Lanse Ngo and I am a junior at Glencliff High School.  I am in the Ford Academy of Business, which uses Ford PAS curriculum. Within my academy, we do simple things from team building activities to extravagant things such as job shadowing with many business professionals. I must admit my academy is not like any other academy, but I have to say it is the best. We have a unique learning environment. I realized this when I was in a meeting about my academy with CEOs from all over the city who are part of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Champions. There was an activity in the meeting, where we got to make decisions modeling real life situations. Even though the activity lasted about 20 minutes, I realized many things make our academy special. Rather than desks, we have round tables so we can interact with each other like many people do after they graduate. The teaching style is also totally different. Our teacher is like a facilitator in the classroom and gives us directions on how to do the project. Then, as a group, we learn and interpret things on our own as we progress through the project and apply it to the real world. My academy doesn’t only give us amazing opportunities, but we also have a major recycling project as our interdisciplinary plan. I am proud to be in the Ford Academy Business, not only because there are only two academies like this in the country, but also because I’ve learned many things that will help me in the future.

Over the summer, I got a chance to be in an internship with Meharry Medical College for health messaging. It lasted four weeks and there was a stipend after completing the internship. This was a life-changing experience. I learned so much from this internship and experienced things I would have never thought of in my life. It definitely prepared me for the future, especially because it was in a graduate college and I got to see the expectations of that environment. Not only did I learn many amazing things, but I got a chance to meet and work with five other students from Glencliff High School and six students from Whites Creek High School and interacted with college professors. I also got a chance to talk to someone who made history in the medical field, Dr. Levi Watkins, M.D.  I would, with no doubt, take a chance to do this internship again if I could.

-Lanse N., Glencliff  High School, Ford Academy of Business

First Culinary Competition Brings Bronze Medal…..Next Time GOLD!!!


Guadlupe G. is a senior Academy of Hospitality student at Hunters Lane High School.  She competed in a Chef and Student competition sponsored by the Middle TN Chapter of the American Culinary Federation with one of our own staff, Mr. Wheeler, who is also a chef.  There was a Hawaiian theme and the winning dish was Shoyu Chicken pictured below.


I had my first competition this past September, and it was a very unique experience.  The first time at a culinary arts competition is always the most important.  A generous helping of anxiety, expectation, and general uncertainty loom in a significant way.  At first I was very nervous and scared that I wouldn’t know what to do, and being in a room full of people looking at you can make you even more nervous. 

The competition took place on a Monday, but I had to come to school on Sunday for over 3 hours to prepare food.  After school on that Monday, I worked with my chef to finish the final preparations.  We created Shoyu Chicken with carrots and spinach.   We set up our food for the professional chefs and college culinary students to taste.  There were over 50 people tasting and judging our dish.  We had to talk with anyone who had questions, and tell them about how we prepared our dish.  Each judge voted for the dish that they thought was the best.  Afterwards we received our awards and then ate a delicious Hawaiian meal prepared by the Chefs. 

I enjoyed myself; I learned a lot; and I had a great time.  Winning a medal during an event such as this validates all the effort spent in preparation.  This competition was a wonderful experience.  I learned that even without prior experience you can still do well in competition. – Guadlupe G.

The Academy of Law at Cane Ridge

        Hi, my name is Irina. I am an ambassador for the Academy of Law at Cane Ridge High School. It’s an honor but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. Being an ambassador requires that I am a good student. I have to keep my grades up, be respectful of those around me, and be a good representative of the academy to the outside world.

        Being in the Academy of Law is a lot of fun. We take field trips and learn a lot about the basics of law and the justice system. We have a lot of hands on experiences. We’ve learned how to finger print, collect DNA, how to examine a crime scene, etc. As a class, we’ve become like a family. We have a great teacher in Mr. Omer. He’s taught us so much about criminal justice.

        Last year, I competed in a program called Skills USA with a couple of fellow classmates. We tied for 3rd place with another school. We would have loved to win, but in the end, we had a fun time because we worked together and learned a lot. Our school also competed in a mock trial last year. Even though we didn’t win the competition, we did get best witness and most valuable lawyer. So, in criminal justice, we learn a lot. It’s always fun and we work together to succeed.

Irina O.

I am proud to be the Academy Ambassador

Resa, Academies of Nashville Ambassador: Overton High School's Academy of Biotechnology and Health Sciences

Hey there! My name is Resa B. and I am a senior at the wonderful John Overton High School. I am one of the Academy Ambassadors for the Academy of Biotechnology and Health Science. This academy leads students who are interested in the health and/or medical field because it offers Biotechnology Research and Development and Diagnostic Services. This academy really prepares us for the future because of the classes we take, such as, Health Science, Diagnostic Medicine, Rehab Therapy, Medical Terminology, and Forensic Science. I know that the things we learn in class will stick with me whenever and wherever I go.

This academy also offers H.O.S.A., Health Occupation Students of America, which is an after-school club that reflects the Biotechnology and Health Science Academy. Just last year we went to Meharry Medical College and we did activities, talked to professors, and looked around at many colleges that offer a medical field college education. We also went to Southern Hills Hospital to help out for the blood drive. They gave us a tour of the labs and they showed us how the blood was taken up and what they did with it. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed seeing what I could be doing in the future.

I am proud to be the Academy Ambassador for the Biotechnology and Health Science Academy!

Cane Ridge High School’s Academy Open House

Did you attend the open house at Cane Ridge High School on September 23?  It was full of activities like Zumba where everyone had fun dancing to the latest songs, face painting, bouncy houses, and balloons for the younger kids. We also had a crime scene area where everyone got a chance to be a detective and solve the mystery of “who killed the raven?”  Another amazing station was the medical room where we got to watch a video provided by Microsoft describing healthcare in the future.  Our construction partners brought a crane and a lift that we got to go up on.  My favorite part of open house was the flash mob organized by the arts and communications academy which was really entertaining to watch and a total surprise.

At the open house, we got to pick up our free academy shirts which got us into the “Wall Bowl” for half price; helped us learn which academy we belong to; got us a coupon to get a snack provided by our academy; and got a little competition going between academies to get the students more involved. The open house was a new way to get the students involved instead of having a traditional open house. We decided to spice it up a bit and give it a new spin. The freshman got a chance to get an idea of what each academy is like. The open house was a success and from the people I’ve asked they would love to have another one ASAP.

Rina D.

All the Pieces Are Falling Into Place

Jordan is a senior at Hillwood High School in the Academy of Art, Design & Communication. She spent time learning about television production at Nashville Education Community and Arts Television (NECAT), a non-profit organization that operates the channels Music City Arts 9 and iQtv10 in Davidson County.

Recently, I had the opportunity to train for two days at the NECAT Television Studio located on Nashville State Community College’s campus. NECAT is a business partner for our academy.  My training allowed me to participate in a live broadcast of a band. During the broadcast, I got to work audio levels as well as be a camera operator.

This was an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to implement the skills I have learned over the past three years into an actual studio setting. Mr. Ginsberg has been my media teacher for all these years, and he has taught me everything I know.  The people at NECAT Studio were professional and taught us how to operate all of their equipment. After two long days of training, I am now certified to work in their studio. This certification means if tomorrow I wake up with an awesome idea for a television show, I would be able to use that studio and the equipment free of charge to produce my show and possibly even have it aired on one of their television stations. This certification also allows me to assist other people who need help producing a show at the studio.

Just from the things I have learned in high school and the studio, I will be able to get a good job in a field I am interested in pursuing.

I have a goal and will stay focused…


When I first received the phone call telling me I was accepted for the internship, I was concerned that I would not be able to perform and fulfill the role of a summer intern, let alone being an intern at a law firm!  Where I come from there are few, if any, attorneys let alone college graduates. The attorneys and staff did a great job of breaking the ice and making me feel right at home. What impressed me most during my 6 week internship were the successful people at Baker Donelson that seem to really care about teaching me about the legal field and corporate America.

This internship has ultimately taught me many things about myself. I have learned that when I am really passionate about something, there is no such thing as being tired or boredom.  I gained insight into what I want to do professionally, after college.  I have a goal and will stay focused and make decisions that will help me reach it.  I also learned that law touches every aspect of American society; criminal, musical, commercial, labor, and even invention patents! I really appreciate everyone involved with the Nashville Bar Association internship program, Baker Donelson, and the many people that spoke to us throughout the summer. I want you all to know that this is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

~Markyth S.

The Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business & Finance, Antioch High School


What made a Big Impact in my High School Career?

One of the things I did during my high school career that I thought made a big impact on my life was a summer internship I did with the Codes and Building Safety Department in the summer of 2011. My supervisor was Carla Langley-Smith and that woman is utterly AMAZING!

My experience as an intern was quite fun actually. I learned quite a bit this summer.I learned that I was overly excited to be able to scan my I.D. card then hear the beep noise which indicated I was able to enter the building. I also learned I was overly excited about having my own username and password to login to enter my newly assigned computer. I learned that grown-ups hardly have any time to do their filing. So when an intern comes in an office for the summer, that intern is quite busy playing the “put papers in alphabetically ordered file folders” game.

All in all, I didn’t have a problem with doing these things because everyone has to start at the bottom, then work their way to the top. But the thing that surprised me was that after I showed myself trustworthy and that I didn’t have a problem with doing the little things, I gained more responsibility. I started answering the telephones, updating insurance policies in the KIVA System, and going to environmental court.

The most fascinating thing I learned about this summer was Environmental Court because I want to study Law in college. Environmental court is a legal system that has been designed to promote rapid, yet fair, enforcement of environmental regulations. At codes, they have office support that take the complaints and turn them in to their inspectors. Their inspectors then go out and inspect the area that has seemingly been a disturbance to the community. If they find a real disturbance on a property, they inform the owner to get rid of the eyesore in so many days. If the property owner doesn’t comply, the inspector sends them a warrant and issues them to court where they deal with the consequences. Usually they’re made to clean up the eyesore and are fined.

So you ask what my experience was like during my internship this summer?

In conclusion, it was more than just fun and educational. It was life changing. It showed me how the real work force works. It gave me professional experience that will forever stay on my resume throughout my life time. I never had a real job before and I was blessed enough to be one of the one out of six hundred applicants to apply for this internship program and to get a chance to work with such wonderful people like my intern coordinators, supervisors, and my most favorite people, the payroll specialists. I am and will be forever grateful.

Thank You,

Zoyii McDonald

Academy of Health Science and Law

McGavock High School