Archives for March 2014

Ford, White House Officials, and International Educators to visit Academies of Nashville next week

Just two months after the President’s historic visit to Metro Schools, with his endorsement of the Academies of Nashville still ringing in Nashville’s ears, White House officials are making a return trip.

Roberto Rodriguez, one of President Obama’s top education advisors, is coming to Nashville Tuesday, April 1, joining hundreds of educators from across the country as they tour the high school Academies. Rodriguez will also make a policy speech about national high school redesign, which is expected to build on themes the President explored in his State of the Union Address and his speech at McGavock High School January 30.

“Hosting another White House official in Nashville is an honor,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “It’s gratifying to know the work we’re doing here to improve our students’ preparation for college and career could spread to other school systems and help position American education firmly in the 21st century.”

Immediately after the tours, the leaders of Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) will make a major announcement about a new honor for and significant new investment in the Academies of Nashville, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

“The Academies of Nashville has proven itself time and again as a model of innovation, leadership and competence in fulfilling the promise of Ford NGL,” said Cheryl Carrier, executive director, Ford NGL. “Nashville’s success in redefining the high school experience has helped dramatically improve educational outcomes such as graduation rates and college participation.”

“Educational leaders are searching for innovative ideas to transform schools and engage students,” said Jay Steele, Metro Schools’ chief academic officer. “They want to learn from our successes and mistakes by talking with teachers, principals, and students in order to formulate plans for their own schools.”

Replication will be the recurring theme all week as principals, public school administrators, and Board of Education representatives from all over the United States tour Metro high schools, take part in group discussions, attend seminars and listen to speeches centered on the high school redesign model here in Nashville. This is the ninth such study visit organized by Metro Schools, Alignment Nashville and Ford NGL. Since late 2011, more than 1,000 of America’s public education leaders have come to Nashville to learn about the Academies. This visit promises to be the biggest yet. Nearly 300 people have registered to attend, almost double the previous attendance high.

“People who come to Nashville to see our high schools leave with a vision for their own community and an inspiration to drive success for their students,” said Sydney Rogers, executive director of Alignment Nashville. “That is what a model community is all about. This week more than 280 people will be here to see how we do it.”

Team SpartaBot travel to Knoxville for FRIST Smokey Mountain Regional Competition

Unknown-1Eleven students traveled to the event to face off with other teams from around the nation in an event called AERIAL ASSIST.

Aerial Assist is played by two competing Alliances of three robots each on a flat 25’ x 54’ foot field, straddled by a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two (2)-minute and 30-second match. The more Alliances score their ball in their goals, and the more they work together to do it, the more points their Alliance receives.

Unknown-2The match begins with one 10-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver. Each robot may begin with a ball and attempt to score it in a goal. Alliances earn bonus points for scoring balls in this mode and for any of their robots that move in to their zones. Additionally, each high/low pair of goals will be designated “hot” for five seconds, but the order of which side is first is randomized. For each ball scored in a “hot” goal, the Alliance earns additional bonus points.

UnknownFor the rest of the match, drivers remotely control robots from behind a protective wall. Once all balls in autonomous are scored, only one ball is re-entered in to play, and the Alliances must cycle a single ball as many times as possible for the remainder of the match. With the single ball, they try to maximize their points earned by throwing balls over the truss, catching balls launched over the truss, and scoring in the high and low goals on the far side of the field.

Alliances receive large bonuses for “assists,” which are earned for each robot that has possession of the ball in a zone as the ball moves down the field.

Unknown-3Follow along as they compete towards a seat in the National Championship scheduled in April in St. Louis, Missouri.


Message From A Parent Ambassador

The parent ambassador program encourages schools and academies to partner with parents to communicate the direction, evaluation, and purpose of the Academies of Nashville as well as provide a forum for parents to have a voice in education. Parent Ambassadors will become school advocates to promote community support, increase parent participation, and communicate the message of the Academies of Nashville. Below is the story of Parent Ambassador Tracey Utley from Stratford STEM Magnet High School.

I’ll admit it. We are a family who enjoys a grand adventure. Like when my husband decided he wanted to trek the entire Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail with our four boys. They did it- all 42 miles of it-in sections. And when they hiked the last section, all 10 miles of it-in one day-with the help of a load of Kit Kat bars, well, they all felt a sense of accomplishment. They had faced what could’ve felt like an insurmountable challenge.

Fast forward to this past school year. Our family moved back to our beloved neighborhood, East Nashville, after a 4 year hiatus of living in the Mid-Atlantic. A house that just so happens to sit across the street from Stratford Stem Magnet High School. And it just so happens that our oldest homeschooler wanted a change of the public school variety. We were faced with what could have felt like another insurmountable challenge.

We were thrilled to learn that our neighborhood school, the one we can see from our front door, had the Interdisciplinary Science and Research program in which our burgeoning boy scientist wished to participate. We were overjoyed. And I am not going to lie, part of that excitement was the fact this boy of ours could transport himself to school via his feet. A great school within walking distance? Sounds too good to be true, right?

We have continued to be delighted with the academies, the services provided (Top Floor- an after school tutorial program for anything from art to ACT prep), the caliber of sincere teachers, and don’t even get me started on the principals. They put the “pal” in principal. Mr. Steele and Mr. Davis along with Ms. Wallace exemplify what you wish for in leaders of a school. They expect of excellence with a good healthy dose of kindness and cheer. These principals know the kids by name and not just the ones who frequent their office due to poor conduct. Under the undaunted leadership of Dr. Jennifer Berry, our boy has been given opportunities that I could never have imagined.

Our happy homeschooler transitioned into a delightful public schooler who ran with the cross country team, joined the Student Ambassadors, and added tennis team to his repertoire of experiences at Stratford. We couldn’t be happier with how his first year of high school, his first year of public school is shaping out. Our boy is better for attending Stratford Stem Magnet High School.

Ten Student Led Companies Compete for Top Honors

From Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee:

High school students from area schools gathered on Thursday, March 13th at the Junior Achievement (JA) Teen Business Showcase at Belmont University to showcase the learning they achieved through the JA Company Program. Fourteen student-led companies were founded, conceptualized, operated, and liquidated this school year.

Beginning last September, all of the companies were guided through the program by their teacher and a community mentor from a local business. More than 50 students from ten companies were present at the Showcase to display their work; the students represented Antioch, Hillsboro, Pearl-Cohn, Stratford, and McGavock High Schools and the after school program Backfield in Motion in Davidson County and Summit High School in Williamson County.

Miller Roloson, JA Company Program volunteer from Deloitte and JA Associate Board member, mentored Antioch High School’s Clockwise Productions. Roloson said, “This is my first year to volunteer with the JA Company Program and it was a personally enriching experience. The students exhibited excellent leadership skills and enjoyed hearing about real-world business experiences. This helped them to look ahead to their future and what they want to do in life.”

During the JA Teen Business Showcase, students exhibited their company’s product or service at a Trade Show, made a five minute business overview presentation to a panel of judges, created an Annual Report, and presented a one minute commercial. At the conclusion of the Showcase, judges named the top three companies for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Second Place Company was The Beanie Company from Hillsboro High School and the Third Place Company was Squad Fitters from Summit High School.

Dave Young is a Hillsboro High School coach and teacher whose Business Management class created The Beanie Company. He said, “The program was a learning experience for all of us…without a doubt, students learned life skills: planning, organization, cooperation, skills that will benefit in business and in helping make personal life more successful. I saw growth in most of the students and the experience really exceeded my expectations.”

JA President Trent Klingensmith was a JA Company Program student himself in high school. He said, “Students connecting classroom concepts with real-world application is vital, especially during high school. The JA Company Program does exactly that for teenagers, demonstrating their potential and inspiring them to reach for their dreams.”

STEM Freshmen Learn their Lesson at Old Hickory Dam

By Lee Roberts, Army Corp of Engineers, Nashville District Public Affairs



More than 20 ninth graders from Stratford STEM Magnet High School received educational lessons about water management on the Cumberland River and its tributaries, ecosystems for big rivers and small streams, hydropower operations, navigation and water safety on a field trip today at Old Hickory Dam.

A team of scientists and park rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District split the students into two groups, then toured the Old Hickory Navigation Lock and provided insight into Corps missions inside the Cumberland River Operations Center.

Bob Sneed, Nashville District Water Management Section chief, talked about the development of the modern-day reservoir system to include the background and purposes of the 10 dam projects that the district built and continues to maintain and operate.  He explained to them the various purposes of the projects, which include flood risk reduction, hydropower, navigation, water quality and storage, and recreation.


Richard Tippit, the lead biologist for the Water Management Section, also shared his expertise about the environment and water quality, the data collection program, and how the district applies it.  He also talked about the effects of the environment on the aquatic wildlife and the importance of keeping waterways clean.

The students, who have taken on a project to conduct tests in Cooper Creek near their school, were very interested in water quality testing because they are working on a project to collect data on the physical, chemical and biological properties in the creek.

Responding to questions, Tippit said high pH, which is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution, indicates a lot of nutrients or a lot of algae.  “If it’s really low, it means there’s some sort of acid coming into the water,” he explained.

Perry Bruce, a graduate of Stratford who works for the Nashville District and works on stream gauging that provides critical data necessary to operate the reservoir system, was on hand to talk with students and share his experiences from the school to higher education and ultimately to his professional work with the Corps.

Park Rangers Courtney Eason and Amy Redmond escorted the two groups to the navigation lock and also shared their knowledge of Old Hickory Lake and the hydropower and navigation missions at the dam. They also shared water safety tips and the differences between the various types of life jackets available that are U.S. Coast Guard approved.


Old Hickory Lake is part of the Nashville District system of 10 lakes that span the 700-mile-long Cumberland River and includes 300 miles of navigable waters, Redmond told the students.

“Between Old Hickory Dam, here where we are standing, and going up to Cordell Hull Dam… that’s basically Old Hickory Lake,” Redmond said.  “There’s 97.3 miles of water, and on both sides of Old Hickory there are 440 miles of shoreline. There is about 22,500 surface acres of water on Old Hickory with a normal pool level, which is 445 feet above mean sea level.”

Eason talked about the importance of navigation on the Cumberland River and shared how in the early days of America it didn’t take long for people to realize they could make money using the rivers to transport commerce.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stepped up to survey the nation’s waterways and to devise plans to make them navigable, she said.

“The Corps of Engineers built some locks so that we could have recreational and commercial boat travel up and down the river,” Eason said.  She explained the importance of moving goods and services on the water and said the payload on a 15-barge tow on the river is the equivalent to a three-mile-long train or a 35-mile-long line of tractor trailers on the highway.


When the students walked up to Old Hickory Lock, they were treated to a six-barge tow that entered into the lock on its way downstream on the Cumberland River.

“It’s really fun learning how all this works and seeing this,” said Hailey Potter, a student who watched the barges go through the lock.

Kathy Lee, an instructional designer with Stratford STEM Magnet High School Freshmen Academy, said every nine weeks the freshmen students are introduced into different pathways they could go into when entering the tenth grade.

“This pathway is interdisciplinary science and research and engineering, so we’re looking at the aspects here at the dam that are related to engineering and scientific research, Lee explained. Lee said the project they are working on that puts together engineering and scientific research is a study of the water quality of Cooper Creek, which is part of the watershed of the school.


“So the students are here becoming informed about our watershed, and our Cooper Creek of course flows into the Cumberland River.  And of course, the Corps of Engineers is managing the flood management and the navigation and the water quality,” Lee said.  “So we’re here to find out what real engineers and real scientists do, because that’s really what we’re trying to do is develop a real-world application and project for the students.”

At the conclusion of the visit, Carol Haynes, Nashville District’s chief of Equal Employment and Opportunity, spoke to the kids about the importance of obtaining STEM skills and talked about the many career opportunities that are available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Water Management Education Series is an online resource that students and the public in general can explore to learn more about how the Cumberland River Reservoir System works.

The Nashville District supports STEM programs and is an official partner of the Stratford STEM Magnet High School. For more information, go to the district’s STEM Support Page. For more news and information, follow the district on Facebook at

2014 Academies of Nashville Awards

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce is proud to present the finalists for the 2014 Academies of Nashville Awards, sponsored by Altria. Each year, the Chamber organizes a group of teachers, administrators, and community partners to select the best that the Academies of Nashville have to offer. MNPS employees and Academy Partners nominated people and programs for awards in fifteen categories. These nominations were based on the National Career Academy Coalition‘s National Standards of PracticeMNPS administrators and executive staff, school board members, teachers, and community partners will have the opportunity to vote in order to determine the winners, which will be announced on May 12, 2014 at a special event held at Rocketown. Congratulations to all of the finalists for your outstanding work during the 2013–2014 school year!

Academy Teacher of the Year (CTE of Thematic Pathway) – presented by Deloitte

  • James Anderson, Academy of Automotive Technology, Antioch High School
  • Rebecca Banaszak, Academy of International Business and Communication, Hillsboro High School
  • Lauren Beck, Academy of Information Technology, Overton High School
  • Cedric Caldwell, Academy of Entertainment Management, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
  • Jeremiah Davis, Academy of Education and Law, Whites Creek High School

Academy Teacher of the Year (General Education) – presented by Dollar General

  • Paul Beavers, Freshman Academy, Hillsboro High School
  • Nekesha Burnette, Freshman Academy, Antioch High School
  • Marci Garner, Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness, Maplewood High School
  • Cheryl Jolley, Academy of Information Technology, Overton High School
  • Laura Vignon, CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication, McGavock High School

Academy Team Leader of the Year

  • Tobey Green, Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • LaSheryl Jones-Hall, Academy of Entertainment Management, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School
  • Tripp (John) Nicholson, Academy of Business and Hospitality, Hillwood High School
  • Marrkus Marshall, Academy of Community Health, Whites Creek High School
  • Sarah Wolf, Academy of Engineering, Overton High School

Academy Partnership of the Year- Arts, Media, and Communications

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and the Academy of Arts and Communication, Cane Ridge High School
  • The Parthenon and the Academy of Art, Design, and Communication, Hillwood High School
  • Warner Music Nashville and the Academy of Entertainment Communication, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Academy Partnership of the Year- Business, Marketing, and Information Technology

  • Deloitte and the Academy of Information Technology, Overton High School
  • Fifth Third Bank and the Academy of Business and Consumer Services, Maplewood High School
  • US Community Credit Union and the US Community Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance, McGavock High School

Academy Partnership of the Year- Engineering, Manufacturing, and Industrial Technology

  • Earl Swensson (ESA) and the Academy of Environment and Urban Planning, Glencliff High School
  • Trevecca- Nazarene University and the Academy of Engineering, Overton High School
  • Universal Robotics and the Academy of Science and Engineering, Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Academy Partnership of the Year- Health and Public Services

  • Aegis Sciences Corporation and the Academy of Health Science and Law, McGavock High School
  • Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Academy of Teaching and Service, Antioch High School
  • Southern Hills Medical Center and the Academy of Health Sciences, Overton High School

Academy Partnership of the Year- Hospitality and Tourism

  • Event Logistics and the Academy of Hospitality, Hunters Lane High School
  • Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt and the Academy of Business and Hospitality, Hillwood High School
  • Nashville Opera and the Academy of Hospitality, Antioch High School

Academy Coach of the Year

  • Jennifer Berry, Stratford STEM Magnet High School
  • Emily Hughes, Hillwood High School
  • Sonya Mansfield, Maplewood High School

Externship Project of the Year- presented by the Memorial Foundation

  • Nashville Shakespeare Festival/ Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art/ Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies and the Academy of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Hillsboro High School
  • Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Academy of Teaching and Service, Antioch High School
  • U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Academy of Science and Engineering, Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Academy Assistant Principal of the Year- presented by Altria

  • Shatrina Cathey, Academy of Health Science and Law, McGavock High School
  • Melissa Harkreader, Academy of Global Health and Science, Hillsboro High School
  • Darren Kennedy, Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics/ Academy of Education and Law, Whites Creek High School
  • Jill Pittman, Academy of Information Technology, Overton High School
  • Janet Wallace, Academy of Science and Engineering, Stratford STEM Magnet High School

Executive Principal of the Year- presented by Altria

  • Adrienne Koger, Antioch High School
  • Clint Wilson, Glencliff High School
  • Ron Woodard, Maplewood High School

Academy Counselor of the Year

  • Meri Kock, Academy of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Hillsboro High School
  • Susan Murphy, Academy of Business and Consumer Services, Maplewood High School
  • Ashley Shaver, Academy of Art, Design, and Communication, Hillwood High School

Freshman Academy of the Year

  • Antioch High School Freshman Academy
  • Maplewood High School Freshman Academy
  • Whites Creek High School Freshman Academy

Academy of the Year

  • Academy of Architecture and Construction, Cane Ridge High School
  • Academy of Marketing and Business, Hunters Lane High School
  • Academy of Health Science and Law, McGavock High School
  • Academy of Engineering, Overton High School

Experiential Opportunities for Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies Criminal Justice Students

14.3.12 Stratford

14.3.12 Stratford 2Ms. Robinson, the Criminal Justice I, II, III teacher at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, led her honor students on a VIP tour of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Headquarters, a strong business partner with Stratford and Criminal Justice last week.

TBI is considered to be the premier law enforcement agency in the state. Its substantial investigative and forensic evidence collection techniques have proven to be successful on many high profile criminal cases.  The TBI crime laboratory is considered to be a role model for local, state, and national law enforcement.  The students met and observed actual CSI Agents conducting crime scene evidence collection protocol, also known as “bagging and tagging”.  The students were especially interested in how the evidence report was documented and how often the CSI Agents were required to testify in court.   The students learned that the real world of a CSI Agent is vastly different than what is portrayed in the movies and TV shows.  In the real world, the skill set required to be a CSI Agent is focused on attention to detail, documentation, strict laboratory protocol, and dedication to duty.  The students are planning their next project based learning exercise from an actual case taken from the TBI investigative files.

14.3.12 Stratford 3

TEDxNashvilleEd: Ideas Worth Spreading

TEDx NashvilleED one line black


MNPS Academies of Nashville Student Success

Thursday, March 20, 2014

9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Polk Theater

Admission is FREE

MNPS has partnered with TEDxNashville to showcase students in our high schools who have implemented innovative thoughts, ideas, and programs to make their schools and communities better.  And it’s being called TEDxNashvilleEd.

Throughout the semester, students have attended public speaking and student leadership workshops led by the Director of the Academies of Nashville, Dr. Chaney Mosley. Students then had the opportunity to audition for one of the twelve speaker slots. The auditions were very competitive! Each students has been paired with an adult mentor to help refine their performance.

We hope that you will come out and support those innovative and talented students. Come for the whole day or drop in for your student’s performance. We look forward to sharing MNPS Academies of Nashville student talent with all of you!

Schedule of Events

9:00 Chaney Mosley“Play Nice & Remember to Share”
9:15 Gellcye Alegre“Il Colore Marrone”McGavock High School
9:30 Kordell Young“Hope”Glencliff High School
9:45 DeShaun Clarke &
Johnathan Crutchfield“One of Us”Cane Ridge High School
10:00 Break
10:15 Pel Doski“Finding A Home”Overton High School
10:30 Hamza Chaudhery“The Tutor Antioch Program”Antioch High School
10:45 JC McCaw“An Outside Perspective on Public Education”Hillsboro High School
11:00 Break for Lunch
12:00 Simone Williams“Embracing Diversity”White Creek High School
12:15 Milton Patino“The Power of ‘Yes’”Antioch High School
12:30 Tamara Milford“My Future. My Way.”McGavock High School
12:45 Break
1:00 Stacy Crescencio“The Story of Our Lives Only Makes Us Stronger”Cane Ridge High School
1:15 Farzin Dehghan “From Isfahan to Nashville- The Bridge that Music Built”Overton High School
1:30 Tytiauna Ruffin“Single Parent Homes”McGavock High School

Hillsboro Student Receives Honorable Mention in White House Film Festival

First the President pays a visit to Nashville, and now Nashville students are getting awards from him.

Hillsboro High School student Porshia Perkins entered the White House Student Film Festival with a compelling video about technology, focusing on how it makes the world more inclusive and shapes education.

Her hard work paid off. Out of more than 2,000 entries, Porshia’s video received an Honorable Mention and will be featured when the festival runs online.

Let’s take a look:

Business Partners and Maplewood Work Together to Understand Home Ownership

Academy partner Fifth-Third Bank, Maplewood High School’s Academy of Business and Consumer Services, and the Habitat for Humanity came together this semester to work with students and the East Nashville community to learn about home ownership and the Habitat for Humanity home ownership Program. This is project-based learning in action in the school and the greater Nashville community.