Archives for August 2013

Griffin Technology donates Mac Minis to Hunters Lane

“We just wanted to know what we could do to help and we found a place at Hunters Lane.”

-Mark Rowan, President of Griffin Technology

IMG_2254We would like to give a huge thanks to Griffin Technology, one of Hunters Lane’s Academy of Design & Technology business partners, for donating 25 Mac Minis to Hunters Lane High School. The students in the Academy of Design & Technology are stoked to be able to switch between two different types of operating systems: PC and iOS. This is definitely one of the most memorable events to happen at Hunters Lane this school year and it wouldn’t have been possible without Mark Rowan.


Dr. Kessler is excited to see what new creative ideas our students will conjure up. It sets Hunters Lane apart because we are able to offer both platforms in which students are able to design and create their own video games, apps, remote controlled cars, and other various programming software. Students will now have the chance to explore and have experience with more advanced technology that will help them in their future endeavors.


Guest Blog: CMT Goes Back to School

The Academies of Nashville business partners are an essential element to high school redesign. While many partnerships occur in the classroom through guest speakers and mentoring, there are some partnerships that occur with students outside of the school grounds. Lucia Folk at CMT recently shared her experiences as a guest blogger for the National Association for State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium. 


Originally posted on the Friends of CTE Blog Series


Friends of CTE Blog Series: CMT Goes Back to School

Lucia Folk is the Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television), a cable television network distributed in 92 million homes across the country.

Lucia Folk, Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television)

Lucia Folk, Senior Director of Public Affairs for CMT (Country Music Television)

I’m lucky enough to have my dream job, which is utilizing CMT’s media platforms—television, radio, digital, etc.—to encourage our viewers to give back in their communities. So when our parent company, Viacom, partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation a few years ago to launch the Get Schooled Foundation with the goal of empowering young people to take charge of their education, I was excited to have a role in helping CMT support that mission….

To read more visit the Friends of CTE Blog Series

Leadership + Advocacy + Service = MNPS Ambassadors

More than 160 ambassador attended the two day training at Tennessee State University

Ambassador Training 2013 is in the books – a surreal statement that has yet to really sink in with us here at the Academies of Nashville. It seems like only yesterday when we began making plans for what this year’s training would look like, and all of a sudden, it is complete!

Students learned a variety of leadership skills that will be extremely valuable during their year of service.

More than 160 high school juniors and seniors from throughout Metro Nashville Public High Schools came together last week for two jam packed days of leadership training at Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Sciences. Students learned skills ranging from elevator speeches to improving school climate. We owe a special thanks to Tennessee State University, Deloitte, and the Federal Reserve for sponsoring this year’s training.

We are still blown away by the talents and passion these ambassadors have for their schools. It’s rather amazing in our book that these students are able to attend high school full time, be involved in extra curricular activities, work or intern during the week, and still find time to advocate for the great things going on in their schools.

That’s pretty impressive if you ask us.

Training involved everything from speech writing, thank you note writing, leadership theory, and much more.

Now, it is time to focus on the next goal – middle school ambassador training. In just three weeks, nearly 200 middle school 7th and 8th grade students will come together to begin training for the brand new ambassador program in the Middle Preps of Nashville.

We are looking forward to working with this group as they develop as a team, establish their goals, exceed expectations, and have a whole lot of fun while doing it. This group sure has an exciting task ahead of them and it will be action packed!

Ambassadors took time to focus on their school climate and propose ways to improve the learning environment in their classrooms.

Growing the Future of Urban Agriculture in Nashville

The Academies of Nashville business partners are an essential element to high school redesign. While many partnerships occur in the classroom through guest speakers and mentoring, there are some partnerships that occur with students outside of the school grounds. Jason at Trevecca Nazarene University’s Urban Farm shares his experiences with students outside the classroom. 


UnknownEarly this spring, Trevecca Urban Farm began developing a relationship with the Academies of Nashville after an enthusiastic visit from the director, Dr. Chaney Mosley and Overton High School’s Academy Coach, Mary York.  A desire was expressed at that point to begin connecting students from Metro schools–particularly from the four schools with agricultural pathways—with our agricultural work.  Overton in particular has an agricultural academy that focuses on urban agriculture.

This dream quickly began to be realized when three students from Overton spent a week of mornings with us at the farm, working and learning about the how’s and why’s of urban agricultural during their spring intercession.  This was followed by the Trevecca Urban Farm Camp.  Like the intercession week, this was a hands-on learning experience that submerged students into the global and local issues of food, farming, and justice as they learned to care for chickens, fish, worms, fruit, and vegetables.  In addition, eighteen students learned how to build and plant a garden, build a compost pile, and plant trees. These eighteen students represented eleven different nationalities as first or second generation Americans.

Students completing the camp had an opportunity to apply for a paid internship for the remaining seven weeks of the summer.  We welcomed six students who worked hard alongside our farm team to build up the farm and plant a huge vegetable garden, care for fruit trees and bushes, and care for fish, worms, and chickens.  Once they were trained in the why and how of the farm, we were able to let them teach and lead groups of visitors at the farm over the summer.  It was amazing to watch them passionately explain to other teens the issues around food access in our neighborhood. Two of the interns incubated chicks from our fertilized eggs. Another wants to be a missionary and employ these skills abroad for the good of those she serves.

Additionally, the Trevecca Urban Farm hosted five teachers from different disciplines for a teacher externship where they worked and learned for three full days about the issues of food justice, agriculture, nutrition and diet-related illness, and gardening. The teachers planned to develop an interdisciplinary project to be implemented at Overton this fall. It was a shock to the teachers that the Overton student interns taught them about the farm. They were blown away when we allowed these same students to train them in what we were doing with enthusiasm, ownership, and expertise.  They couldn’t believe the difference in these students when they were given a chance to learn with their bodies, follow their curiosities, and embrace leadership roles.

Finally, we took the interns to a local farm where they picked blackberries, blueberries, and apples and got to see how a full scale production farm operates.  They were involved in every aspect of our work and were educated in the social, biological, and spiritual aspects of caring for the soil and its fruits.  In their last week, they caught tilapia out of the aquaponics system and took them to Chef John in the cafeteria where he taught them how to filet and prepare the fish for a meal.  We then ate a meal together that was almost exclusively made up of farm produce that they had grown and harvested.  The summer with these high school students was a rich, rich experience—incredibly inspiring to the adult interns and volunteers that worked alongside them through the summer.

Four students from the internship and the camp stated, without any prompting, that they were applying to Trevecca Nazarene University!

First Generation HS Student, Graduates with Honors

photo3My name is Hamadi Mwechiwa and I am the first member of my family to graduate from high school. I received my high school diploma from McGavock High School this past May of 2013.

I was born and raised in Kenya with my family. I grew up uneducated and had no access to education when I was younger.  Because of the difficulty we were facing, my family came to the United States as refugees in 2004.

One of my favorite childhood memories was to always think about accomplishing something great and to benefit from any given opportunity. Growing up, I had a strong determination and a passion to learn and succeed.  I convinced myself to have ambition through every difficult task, believing that anything was possible.

One of my proudest accomplishments as a first generation high school student was to graduate with a diploma of distinction.  In order to do this I needed to obtain a nationally recognized professional certification.  So I began my journey in obtaining an industry certificate.

I dedicated most of my after school time to fulfilling this task. My goal was to become a Microsoft Office Specialist, or MOS. I couldn’t have done it without my Computer Apps and Business Management teacher Mrs. Brown, who played an important role in my achievement.  She gave me the motivation necessary in fulfilling my goal, which approximately took me 3 months.

I purchased the exam voucher for $90 and was set to take the test. I took the exam, which was knowledge based, and came out victorious with a score of 997/1000.

This certificate opened doors for me. Not only in fulfilling the requirements to graduate with a diploma of distinction, but also because I learned the Microsoft skills companies are looking for.  The Sam2010 program (the program through which I trained for the test) not only taught me skills, but also gave me valuable experience and confidence, which will hopefully heighten my earning potential in the future. I have told my cousins about it and they worked on it this past summer and are hoping to have the same success.


The Importance of Academies: Through the Eyes of Business Partners

The Academies of Nashville business partners are an essential element to high school redesign. While many partnerships occur in the classroom through guest speakers and mentoring, there are some partnerships that occur with students outside of the school ground. Magistrate Sheila Calloway is a judge with the Davidson County Juvenile Court System and shares her experiences with students outside the classroom. 

Sheila Calloway - Vandy pictureAs a Juvenile Court Magistrate, it’s unusual to have the opportunity to work closely with the school system in developing curriculum and a plan of study for the students.  To my delight, working with the academies allows for that opportunity.  I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with the Health and Public Service Partnership Council (formally, the Human and Public Service Partnership Council) from the beginning of its formation.

Many times, I have been asked why I invest so much time for the academies and MNPS.  I have so many responses to that question that include answers from the excitement that I get when I see students involved in a mock trial to the satisfaction that I feel when students in the law academies have the opportunity to do job shadowing at court.  I have truly had the experience of watching the students of MNPS grow.

Recently, however, I saw for my own eyes the real answer to that question.  During a court proceeding, I had the opportunity to talk to a child witness.  During that child’s testimony, the one thing that stood out was her excitement about her current school assignment.  Having just finished with her freshman academy, she could not WAIT until she got into her chosen academy.  She told me about all the field trips that the other students had the chance to participate in; she explained to me the pathway that she was interested in and all the opportunities they had; she knew about the business partners that were associated with the particular academy.  She was READY for school to start and ready for where that academy was going to take her.

And that’s exactly why I love my work with the Academies of Nashville.  I get to see first hand how the academies touch the lives of our children.  That is exactly what education should look like!

Driving A Better Future


Pictured (left to right) Zied Guizani, Molly Sehring, Charlie Coats (owner of Crown Ford), Jill Peeples, Lee Geringer, and Eric Savaiano.

The Crown Ford Dealership partnered with Glencliff High School during the 2012-2013 school year to raise money for the Family Resource Center and Academies of Glencliff by offering free test drives in brand new Ford vehicles for students, teachers and the community.  Yesterday, the Crown Ford Dealership presented Glencliff High School with a check for $3,160! Thank you for your support and incredible partnership!

Partnerships with Products

How cool is this!? Griffin Technology, a business partner at Hunters Lane High School, designed a Warrior iPhone case for the school. This idea is a product of a teacher externship last summer when a team of teachers spent three days visiting the company and learning how to apply real world skills to teaching standards. This year, students in these classes will begin designing phone cases that Griffin will produce the sell!photo