The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context. Inquiry-based teaching and project-based learning are important for the Academies’ goal of teaching students how to think critically and creatively to solve problems in the classroom and real world. To bring these ideas to MNPS classrooms, academy partners in Nashville have joined forces with the Academies of Nashville to educate teachers about the realities of working life in different careers. The result of this collaboration is the Teacher Team Externship Program. The program is an opportunity for teachers 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. A teacher team works together to create interdisciplinary projects that reinforce the theme of their academy across subject areas.
In 2011, a teacher team from Glencliff High School‘s Academy of Medical Science & Research participated in an externship with Meharry Medical College. The teacher’s focused their attention on how healthcare affects the entire community. They decided that they wanted their interdisciplinary curriculum to reflect the importance of raising awareness and educating the public about healthy living.
The teacher team from the Academy of Medical Science & Research decided to have their students create a community-based diabetes awareness 5k race, the Stampede Against Diabetes. The race supported the valuable work of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. Over fifty people ran in the race through the Woodbine community in south Nashville. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, Dialysis Clinic Inc., Youth Villages, and Meharry Medical College supported the 5k race.
This race was an interdisciplinary project for students in the Academy of Medical Science & Research. Throughout the school year, students researched the causes, prevalence, prevention, and impact of diabetes. They listened to guest speakers from various organizations that gave presentations on different aspects of diabetes and its impact on American society. Numerous classes had assignments that focused on diabetes. In English, students researched the disease and created informational pamphlets. In Life Connections and Child & Lifespan Development, students evaluated case studies of individuals with diabetes and created materials to raise awareness. In various science classes, students analyzed the environmental factors that show a significant relationship to diabetes as well as the genetics and cellular effects of diabetes. In Government, students participated in a public policy simulation on diabetes funding and research that included role plays and letters to representatives. In other words, students had the opportunity to focus their learning in many different subjects through the lens of diabetes and its relationship to public health. More importantly, they took active steps to bring their knowledge to the community and make a difference.