Archives for May 2014

Fun with the Sun

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Twenty Biotechnology students traveled to Vanderbilt University’s VINSE laboratories on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 for a day in the lab learning about alternative energy and the present need our society, in fact, our world has for developing alternative means of producing electricity.  The lab consisted of making prototype solar cells using blackberry dye to enhance the power output of their cell.

The students were engaged in a friendly competition to convert photons (light energy) into current (electrical energy), with the best team winning Vanderbilt t-shirts!  Students mashed blackberries and used ethanol to assist in the filtration process, and used it to extract the dye and adsorb it onto their TiO2 (titanium dioxide) substrate/electrode.  Once this process was complete, students took a ‘stick’ of graphite and prepared a second electrode.  These were ‘sandwiched’ together and iodide was placed between them as an electrolyte to complete the cell.   Finally, each team’s cells were connected to a meter to measure the current output when illuminated with white light.  Every team successfully produced milliamps of current with a solar cell that was approximately 1 inch square!  This was very impressive.  The winning team, Lupe Medina and Alyssa Buckland, produced 6.3 mA!

The day ended with students operating a Scanning Electron Microscope or SEM.  This equipment creates surface images on the nanoscale!

 

Antioch and Whites Creek Continue to set the National Standard

Five more Metro Academies rank among the nation’s best

It’s becoming an annual tradition in Metro Schools. For the third year in a row, we are proud to announce another group of high school Academies earning “model status” from the National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC). This is the highest designation for a high school academy, and another signal that Metro Schools continues to rise as a district for others to emulate.

Five more Academies have been named national models, bringing the district’s total to 14. This status is only given after a rigorous application and review process that measures Academy structure and performance against national standards of practice. It means these schools and their Academies are among the best in the country and will be held up as models for other schools to follow.

The new Model Academies are:

  • The Academy of Community Health, Whites Creek High School
  • The Academy of Automotive Technology and Design, Antioch High School
  • The Academy of Hospitality and Marketing, Antioch High School
  • The Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance, Antioch High School
  • The Academy of Teaching and Service, Antioch High School

“After such a banner year for the Academies of Nashville, this is a great way to end the school year,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “The Academies office has led these schools with a strong vision for what students need to be college and career ready. Thanks to the hard work of school faculty and our incredible business partners, more and more of our schools are offering world-class program for students.”

With this designation, Antioch is now the third Metro high school with wall-to-wall model Academies, meaning every Academy in the school has model status. The other two are Hillwood and McGavock High Schools. It also means that with a total of 14, a third of the Academies of Nashville have model status.

“We are so pleased to offer only model Academies to our students,” said Antioch principal Dr. Adrienne Battle-Koger. “Whatever pathway students choose to follow, they will be getting the very best in college and career prep. Our goal at Antioch High School is to offer rigorous and nationally recognized programs to support our students, which is becoming the norm in MNPS high schools.

These are the first model Academies at both schools, though the Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance at Antioch received accreditation from NCAC in 2012. All five Academies will be honored at the NCAC national conference in Washington, D.C. this October.

“This is fantastic news for our students, schools and communities,” said Board of Education Chair Cheryl Mayes. “As a parent, school board member and business partner in the Academies of Nashville, I have seen firsthand the short and long term benefits of how these programs will better prepare our students for college and career through job shadowing, internships and resume writing opportunities – not to mention the hands on classroom interactions with business partners. The Academies are a great opportunity for our students to gain real world experiences before leaving high school.”

Board of Education Vice Chair Anna Shepherd added, “Having a front row seat at McGavock High School during their accreditation process for their Academies, I know that this is quite a feat for Antioch and Whites Creek. Congratulations are due to these teams and high schools.”

At Whites Creek, the Academy of Community Health gives students hands on experience in the medical field, including diagnostic and therapeutic services, as well as healthcare business management. In a city that has become one of the healthcare capitals of the country, those skills will prove invaluable.

Whites Creek also boasts the Academy of Energy, Sustainability and Logistics, where students can work on alternative energy projects like producing biodiesel, ethanol and solar energy, and the Academy of Education and Law, with pathways in law enforcement and teaching. On top of providing students with national model Academies, Whites Creek is also a Cambridge School, offering one of the best advanced academics programs in the world.

“As we like to say, the Creek is rising, and our teachers’ dedication to students is the reason why,” said Dr. James Bailey, principal of Whites Creek. “Because of them, Whites Creek students will succeed no matter where they go after graduation.”

Antioch High School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) candidate school with hopes to offer IB starting next year. At last week’s Academies of Nashville Awards, the school won:

  • Academy Teacher of the Year (CTE or Thematic Pathway) – James Anderson, Academy of Automotive Technology and Design
  • Academy Partnership of the Year (Health and Public Services) – Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Academy of Teaching and Service
  • Freshman Academy of the Year

Whites Creek wins Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award

6/23/2014 Governor Bill Haslam presents the Governor's Stewardsh

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Environmental and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced the winners of the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards today. Among the list of 11 winners who were recognized for their achievements and positive impact on the state’s natural resources, was our own Whites Creek high School.

“Today’s announcement celebrates Tennesseans who are committed to our environment,” Haslam said. “Recognizing these innovative efforts that help conserve and protect out natural resources is important in keeping our communities strong and economically viable. I am proud to work alongside each and every one of the winners announced today.”

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.  In its 28th year, this year’s awards program covers nine categories: Building Green; Clean Air, Energy and Renewable Resources; Environmental Education and Outreach; Environmental Education and Outreach (school category); Land Use; Materials Management; Natural Heritage; and Sustainable Performance.

A panel of 21 professionals representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals judged more than 75 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.

“It’s important that we recognize the people and organizations that work so hard to protect our environment, while also teaching others about sustainability,” added TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The better we take care of our environment, the better our quality of life, which directly impacts how Tennesseans live, work and play.”

Whites Creek is being recognized for the excellence in energy and renewable resources.

Category:  Excellence in Energy and Renewable Resources

Whites Creek High School (Davidson County) – Students from Whites Creek High School recently drove across Tennessee on fuel that they made from agriculture product, soybeans. They were able to achieve this by using 15 bushels of donated soybeans and converting them into biodiesel in their energy laboratory at the high school. They were able to extract 12 gallons of biodiesel from their process which allowed them to drive across Tennessee from Kentucky to Alabama in a Ford F250 farm truck. Along the route, they traveled to other high schools and the students taught other FFA members the mechanics of biodiesel production with their mobile lab. Whites Creek High School has a three-year program called Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability and Logistics. During the three year program, they study wind energy, solar energy, biodiesel, ethanol, the hydrogen car, nuclear energy, greenhouse gas, and have hands on experience on the adjacent farm to the high school.

Great Things Happening at Overton High School: A Principals’ Perspective

John Overton High School has long prided themselves as excelling in academics, athletics, and the arts.  Certainly this year has been no exception in that tradition.  They have had students competing at the State and National level in VEX Robotics, Science Olympiad, and HOSA.  This spring they swept District 12 with championships in Baseball, Softball, Soccer, and Tennis.  They even had two All-American Marching Band members!  Yet the most amazing accomplishments may have come without any special medals and ribbons.  These accomplishments center around a solid culture of social and emotional learning.

To set the scene you must know that John Overton High School is the most diverse school in Tennessee.  Students from 63 different countries speaking over 50 different languages walk the hallways of this school.  In some schools this amount of diversity could be seen as a challenge, but at Overton High School it has been embraced as an asset.  There are two real keys to making this happen.  The first is a staff of caring and competent teachers who reach out to build relationships with students every day.  The other is the structure of Career Academies that support a sense of family.

In the Academy model students are able to select a career academy and pathway that aligns with their interests.  As they progress through school they are able to make more connections between the curriculum that is taught in school and the needs of the adult and business world.  Project-based learning is a cornerstone of this model.  Project-based learning, or PBL, allows students to find ways to apply their learning to real-world scenarios–they have more voice in how they demonstrate mastery of standards while receiving feedback from their teacher, peers, and stakeholders in the community.  Students see more purpose in their learning and stay more engaged.  This level of engagement with students has resulted in significant increases in student attendance while simultaneously decreasing student disciplinary referrals.

This spring John Overton High School hosted a tour of educators from around the nation to learn more about their success in this model.  During this tour many administrators and teachers commented to Overton Executive Principal, Dr. Shuler Pelham, “the students just seem so happy here—they really love their school”.

Overton Student Mohamad Obaid

Overton Student Mohamad Obaid

Last month State Senator Steve Dickerson visited John Overton High School and had the opportunity to meet several students.  During his visit, Overton Senior Mohamad Obaid shared with him “Overton has been the best 4 years of my life.  My academy is like my family—I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to get to school.  I wasn’t always like this—but my teachers just kept believing in me and telling me what I could do, and eventually I came to see it.  I just love it here!”  Mohamad will graduate this spring and plans to attend college at MTSU where he will major in computer science.

Tie for Academy of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Academy of the YearFor the first time ever, two academies tied for the Academy of the Year. Congratulations to McGavock High School’s Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law and Overton High School’s Academy of Engineering.

McGavock High School Aegis Science Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law

The Aegis Science Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law is committed to advancing health science and law education to build a better community. Teams focus on ensuring success by analyzing data and using it for continuous improvement, and meetings are purposeful and focused around student achievement. Because they know how their students learn best, teachers have embraced project-based, interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Working cohesively with business partners, they have achieved 100 percent participation in industry tours and job shadowing, as well as numerous capstone projects and internships. Several academy students are enrolled in dual-credit and dual-enrollment courses and are earning industry certifications. Even with nine new teachers last year, the academy committed to working collaboratively and undergoing the accreditation process, earning a perfect score! This academy was invited to present at the 2013 NCAC conference and was able to showcase their work for Ford Hub guests and other school teams. It was officially named and branded by academy partner Aegis Sciences Corporation on March 11.

Overton High School Academy of Engineering

Built on a firm foundation of strong partnerships with LP Building Projects and Stantec Consulting, the Overton Academy of Engineering has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, earning the NCAC model academy status in 2013. The academy continues to expand opportunities for students by partnering with Vanderbilt University School of Engineering and Trevecca Nazarene University Urban Farm and offering interdisciplinary lessons combined with trips to LP Field, the Parthenon, Percy Priest Dam, and an LP manufacturing plant. The academy continues to host successful TSA and FFA clubs, as well as sponsoring the state champion VEX Robotics Team. Although their focus is on math and science, the academy strives to improve literacy as well in every class, every day. Most importantly, engineering students know they are part of a team that includes teachers, students, partners, parents, and administrators who care about each other and value rigorous academics and live-based learning experiences.

 

Woodard Named Executive Principal of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Principal Ron Woodard’s passion for the Academies model has led to an increase in team collaboration, opportunities for students and community partnerships.  He is re-branding Maplewood as an oasis of hope where “lives will be changed every day.” His efforts have led to a dramatic increase in scholarship funding for students to an accumulated total of more than $5.1 million in a three-year period. Additionally, the college acceptance rate stands at 83 percent, an increase of more than 25 percent. Woodard encourages the use of unconventional learning spaces for each academy through the coffee shop and entrepreneurship center for business, the fitness center for sports medicine, and the high-tech lab space for energy and power. Maplewood has gained 34 community partners and 11 new academy partners over a two-year period. Partnering with Fifth-Third Bank, Woodard also worked to bring financial literacy to the Maplewood community by providing seminars on career development, credit repair and homeownership.

Pittman named Academy Principal of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Academy PrincipalJill Pittman is currently the Academy Principal for the Academy of Information Technology at Overton High School. Pittman considers innovation and servant leadership to be her greatest contribution to the Academy of Information Technology. She is proudest of creating an international space for student voice, in all 53 languages spoken by students in her academy. Working with web design students, Pittman co-created a new IT academy slogan and logo to communicate the evolution of the academy’s brand, and she co-designed the goal medal-winning Project Expo entry with a programming class. She arranges field trips not just for students, but for academy teachers, so they also stay informed about the tech scene in Nashville. Working with business and community partners, she ensures the relevancy of technology projects to her academy and all of Overton. Pittman is a doer, rather than a delegator, and can be found in the middle of the action with her teachers and students as her partners.

Arts, Media, and Communication Partnership of the Year goes to the Parthenon

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Arts PartnershipThe Parthenon’s artist-in-residence program offers an inspiring learning experience for select advanced academy art students. Based on the centuries-old tradition of museums serving as vibrant schools of art, students enjoy regular and repeated access to the classical Elgin Marble casts, as well as other Parthenon architectural elements. Students have an opportunity to broaden their own aesthetic conceptual repertoire and strengthen their ability to translate three-dimentional forms with two-dimensional drawings. In addition to interacting with local artists and the Parthenon curator, students receive an in-depth studio session with Athena sculptor Alan LeQuire and communication via Skype with Robert Bodem, director of the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. The experience concludes with an exhibition of selected student pieces in the Parthenon’s gallery lobby exhibit space. Plaza Artist Materials and Picture Framing generously donates student supplies for the project.

Emily Hughes Named Academy Coach of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Academy CoachEmily Hughes has enjoyed the honor and privilege of leading all three of the career academies at Hillwood High School to model accreditation through the National Career Academy Coalition. As Hillwood’s first academy coach, Hughes has a history of leadership and involvement with the transformation in MNPS high schools through the system-wide implementation of the academy model. With her assistance, vision, and leadership in implementing the academy model, Hillwood’s graduation rates have increased, discipline rates have decreased, and test scores have improved. Equally important, academy students now have the opportunity to participate in numerous experiential learning experiences and interact with a number of highly engaged business partner. Hughes is in the process of facilitating the renovation of Hillwood’s health science labs, a project made possible by a $100,000 grant from one of her partners, the HCA Foundation.

Nicholson wins Academy Team Leader of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Team LeadIn his capacity as team leader of the Academy of Business and Hospitality for the past four years Tripp Nicholson helped his academy become one of the first in the district to achieve NCACA model accreditation. In addition to his leadership during the certification process, he helps plan multiple job shadows, field trips, academy career fairs, and other experiential learning events. He is valued by both fellow academy teachers and his academy principal for adjusting courses with the pathway in order to provide students a more comprehensive education in the field of business. Using the knowledge gained by being part of the Academy of Business and Hospitality community, many of his students have gone on to universities, technical programs, and industry-related careers.

US Community Credit Union takes home Business Partnership Award

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

Business Partnership

 

The US Community Credit Union engages students through student internships, job shadowing experiences, and classroom presentations. The internships and hands-on training are a key part of the professional development in academy students. USCCU representatives have given classroom presentations on topics such as building credit, establishing a budget, introduction a McGavock Savings Plan, and have spoken in business and marketing classes about branding and sale. USCCU actively participates in the school’s business advisory council and the Academies of Nashville Partnership Council. They are also engaged through Academy Showcase Night, Freshman Orientation Night, Open House nights, and the My Future. My Way. Career Exploration Fair. In November 2013, four bilingual students presented to credit union executives from Ecuador. The highlight of the partnership this year was creating a commercial to showcase the academy and education the public about the McGavock student run brink branch.

Army Corps of Engineers recognized for Externship of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

photoThe U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Nashville District hosted an externship for Stratford STEM Magnet High School teachers during the summer of 2013 to provide them hands-on experience, develop a project-based curriculum, and facilitate applied learning. The teachers visited dams, lakes, and construction sites, and received briefings on scientific and engineering processes. They interactive with subject matter experts and learned how USACE provides collaborative water resource engineering solutions, public-infrassturcture management, and environmental stewardship the Cumberland-Tennessee River systems. They also processed water samples at J. Percy Priest Lake that they later used to develop lessons for a class study of local streams. They engaged teachers, staff, students, and community partners through a school-level, USACE- sponsored science and engineering fair and during the Freshman Academy’s Water Quality Projects. The results of the partnership is that more knowledgeable teachers and stronger curriculum give students industry exposure and connect regional educators with the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub.

Vignon wins General Education Teacher of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

photoLaura Vignon is an important part of the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication at McGavock High School. She was heavily involved in the accreditation of the academy and continues to serve as a certified demonstration school teacher. Because of her involvement, the 10th-grade teaching team implements two major project-based learning experiences annually, and she remains committed to creating a higher-level learning environmental by incorporating new and advanced technologies into her classroom instruction. In addition to her work within her academy, Vignon coordinates the AVID Mid-Atlantic Region using this model. Each Fall, you’ll find her outside teaching the field commanders for the marching band, and in Spring, you will find her leading college tours for AVID students.

Anderson named CTE Teacher of the Year

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

photoJames Anderson is credited for both increasing funding for and enthusiasm about his academy. He wrote and received a $6,000 program growth grant from NASA to assist in improving the academy’s first after school VEX Robotics team, which competes at the local and state levels, growing awareness about STEM activity and raising student interest in the engineering program at Antioch. This resulted in an increase in the number of students enrolled in the Academy of Automotive Technology. His students’ design improvements were incorporated into their academy’s multi-departmental project, “Antioch Motor,” earning them a spot at the MNPS STEM Expo. Anderson’s VEX robotics club now boasts two competitive teams for VEX and FIRST robotics. The VEX team qualified for the state championship and finished in second place.

Holiday Inn-Vanderbilt wins Partnership of the Year for Hospitality and Tourism

On May 12, 2014, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Academy Awards. Teachers, principals, business partners, and community interest groups came together to celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 school year and recognize those schools that have made outstanding gains. 

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The Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt has been an active business partner for Hillwood High School in the Academy of Business and Hospitality throughout the year. In the summer, Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt hosts summer advisory board planning meetings for the school, supports teacher externships, and hosts other academy business partners as they work with faculty to begin yearly planning. They also have been an active partner by hosting job shadowing activities and heeling engage parents as they work with their children to make an academy selection. This hotel has also led two developmental days specifically focused on student learning growth. Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt has supported Hillwood students and teachers by participating in mock interviews, resume-building sessions, and session discussions with out-of-town teachers regarding the wonderful things the academy and school accomplish.