Archives for January 2013

200 partners. One goal.

Humbled. Honored. Grateful.

Just a few words to describe our feelings about the great success and milestone we have reached in the past few months. More than 216 Nashville business and community organizations have committed to one goal by becoming a PENCIL partner with the Academies of Nashville- bettering the future of Nashville youth. Thank you all for believing in our students.

In appreciation of our new and existing partnerships, the PENCIL Foundation hosted a celebration Wednesday evening at the Horton Group. In case you weren’t able to be there, check out the fantastic presentations by Chief Academic Officer, Jay Steele, and Mayor Karl Dean. We want to thank everyone who was able to be there last night to make the event a fantastic success.

Also, be on the lookout for our upcoming Twitter Tour. If you or your business, would like to have the PENCIL Foundation or the Academies of Nashville come visit your company and capture information on your partnership please contact one of the Twitter Tour Guides.

  • Beverley Kreul,
  • Nikki Baker,

Additionally, if you would like to showcase your PENCIL partnership with the Academies of Nashville on your company website or social media outlets please feel free to use our brand new web button!


Overton High School Promotes Nutrition for Life

Did you know nearly 2.5 million families in Tennessee don’t know where they are going to get their next meal?  The United States Department of Agriculture reports roughly 13.5% of households in the Volunteer State are classified as “food insecure.” Students at John Overton High School plan to be a part of the solution to this monumental problem.



FFA members, Zakee H. and Kristy L., begin the initial phase of the school garden.

FFA members, Zakee H. and Kristy L., begin the initial phase of the school garden.

The Overton FFA Chapter was awarded an FFA: Food for All grant this past month for $2,500 provided by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. The Overton FFA Chapter will use this grant to support a year-long service-learning project that focuses on developing and implementing sustainable hunger programs in the Nashville community.


“At Overton, we want to educate our students. Not just during their high school career, but a life-long education,” said Kay Lawrence, Overton FFA Advisor. “Through the grant we will be establishing a school and community garden to educate students on soil, planting seasons, harvesting, and nutritious decisions.”


However, the benefit of the garden will not remain within the walls of the classroom. A key focus of the FFA mission is to serve others. Lawrence hopes her students use this opportunity to pay it forward.


“The information the students will get can go out to their families and the community as well,” Lawrence said. “Someday these students will no longer be in the classroom, but in the real-world. We want to send them there as prepared as possible.”


Over the course of the next year, the Overton FFA Chapter hopes to enroll more than 100 students in the garden program and harvest nearly 200 lbs. of produce.


A Cause for Celebration- 200 Business Partnerships and Growing!

A new era of community involvement has begun in Metro Nashville Public Schools. More than 200 business and community partnerships exist in the Academies of Nashville- including 80 brand new partnerships!

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, MNPS Chief Academy Office Jay Steel. Mayor Karl Dean, and PENCIL Executive Director Connie Williams will recognize the incredible growth in school partnerships and celebrate this milestone. HealthSpring will be honored as the 200th Academy Partner for their partnership with Cane Ridge High School’s Academy of Health Management. HealthSpring, a CIGNA company, is one of the country’s leading health plans focused on delivering care to the senior population, predominately through Medicare Advantage and other Medicare and Medicaid products. Along with its companies Bravo Health and Leon Medical centers Health Plans, HealthSpring serves more than one million customers in locations across the country.

Academy partnerships connect core curriculum in the schools with real world career experiences that prepare students for success in a 21st Century global environment. Likewise, Academy partnerships provide students with authentic career exposure and teachers with the industry knowledge that best prepares their students for college and career choices.

Academy Benefits:

  • Authentic educational experiences
  • Mentoring and training from an established business
  • Exposure to products, programs, and practices within the business
  • Teachers working with professionals from the industry to develop interdisciplinary and content relevant instruction opportunities
  • Touring and shadowing experiences
  • Externships, internships and job placement opportunities

Partner Benefits:

  • Promotion within the school and community
  • Access to and training of the future workforce
  • Partnership with an academy that integrates business and technology practices
  • Advisory council participation


Highly skilled and well educated people provide any organization with a strategic, competitive advantage. However, investing in training cannot wait until employees join a company. It begin in our schools with a strong academic foundation reinforced with real-world business experiences. With more then 200 business and community partnerships, our students have unlimited opportunities available to them and our community has the ability to make a difference in everyone’s future.

Get in the Loop! Cheekwood creates a unique experience for two MNPS high schools.

First Loop Project Meeting“The Loop Project is a collaborative project between Cheekwood, Antioch High School and Hillsboro High School. The program will bring together eight art students from each school to work with two artists. Nashville-based Hans Schmitt Matzen and New York-based Gieves Anderson create collaborative pieces of work using a variety of mediums and methods. Their work and collaborative working style will be the inspiration for this project.

For The Loop Project, students will come together from two different schools and neighborhoods to meet with the artists. During their meeting they will be paired up to create collaborative pieces of art – sending the work back and forth to each other for several months, allowing each other to add to or build upon the work. The final pieces will be on display at Cheekwood in January.”  – Karen Kwarciak, Cheekwood School and Outreach Coordinator.


Loop Project Exhibited at Cheekwood

“It was a really great experience going to Cheekwood to meet the two artists Hans Schmitt-Matzen and Gieves Anderson.  The Loop Project was interesting because we got to meet our project partners, from Hillsboro High School, who we would switch our artwork with so that they can do something to change or improve it, sent it back and do that again.  We would also communicate with each other to talk about our ideas.  It was exciting in the end to see our final pieces hanging on the walls in the Great Hall at Cheekwood!” – Sarah Watkins, Antioch High School


The Loop Project Jack Prince and Tristan Higginbotham“The Loop Project was an overall interesting experience. It was kind of difficult to give my work to someone I had never met before, just because they may not understand why I made the choices I made and so on. Thankfully our styles didn’t clash, and my partner and I were able to meet in the middle somewhat. When we swapped pictures that we found interesting, we also swapped a few of the works we had previously done to get an idea of what each of us was good at. One of our pieces changed from a copy-paper sized colored pencil drawing to a giant painting consisting of acrylic and spray-paint, and I think that shows how we built off of each other’s ideas and developed our own at the same time. It was really nerve-racking to try and meet the expectations that I imagined my partner had, but after awhile I just did my own thing and stopped being paranoid about it. I would definitely participate in this again, especially since I know more about it the whole process now. It was really awesome to have so much freedom and step away from the more technical work I had been working on. I feel really confident about the two pieces that came from this project.” – Tristan Higginbotham, Antioch High School


College Ready: Academically and Financially!

On behalf of all high schools involved, we want to thank everyone from the Hermitage and Nashville Deloitte offices who volunteered at the High School FAFSA Drives this month.  Thanks to you and all of the FAFSA volunteers from Deloitte, they have reached two MNPS-FAFSA milestones  on January 17, 2013.


Milestone #1—100 plus families in one night – On Thursday night January 17, Deloitte provided assistance to 106 families at Antioch .  This is the result of their hard work and a three year partnership with Antioch High School. The work with Antioch has included over 100 volunteers assisting with Job Shadow Days, the Be the First Campaign, the JA Company Program, along with many other efforts.  Special thanks to Debbie Banks, Chris Ownby and Mike Woods for leading the first two years of this partnership and Betsy Oleksa , James Lane, Melissa Clemons and Mike Woods for their leadership in year three.


Milestone #2—Over 500 families impacted – On January 17, 2013 Deloitte provided assistance to the 500th FAFSA family!  They ended the night with a three year total of 585 families served from their FAFSA Drives at McGavock High School, Antioch High School and Overton High School.   This clearly puts them in a great position to reach the 600th family milestone at the Overton drive on January 24. .


These  numbers are incredible, but it is really about the individual families they  have helped.  Over the past three years, they have helped individual students on their pathway to college and made a meaningful and long-term impact on these students and their families. Thank you Deloitte for all you do!