What are community partners and how do they work with the Academies of Nashville?
For nearly thirty years PENCIL Foundation has been the primary link between Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville community. This has been accomplished primarily through PENCIL’s flagship program: PENCIL Partners. A PENCIL Partner is a business or organization that connects on a meaningful level with one or more of the 144 MNPS elementary, middle, or high schools in Davidson County.
During the past two years, PENCIL Foundation has been responsible for recruiting and managing partners for the Academies of Nashville. Currently there are more than 200 academy partnerships in place. These partners range from multi-billion dollar companies such as HCA Healthcare and Dollar General to local, community-based organizations such as Belcourt Theatre and Rocketown. Partners provide a variety of services to the students and faculty of the schools they support: mentoring, classroom speakers, job shadowing opportunities, and internships just to name a few. The Tennessee Credit Union and US Community Credit Union even have trained and paid high school students to staff real, fully functioning credit union branches built in Antioch High School and McGavock High School. This kind of real-world experience will be invaluable to these students as they map out a plan for college and career.
Students and teachers are not the only individuals that benefit from these partnerships. Businesses find that such personal involvement in schools has surprising benefits for them as well. Apart from the positive feelings associated with volunteerism and other forms of “giving back,” partners tend to walk away from their schools with a better understanding of the issues facing today’s students and teachers and consequently feel more responsible for what happens in our schools. Additionally, academy partners recognize that the young people they serve today are the future employees of their companies and, more importantly, leaders of our community. Partners therefore have a vested interest in assuring that our students are successful in high school and beyond.