Archives for September 2014

Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity

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Stratford STEM Magnet High School Executive Principal Michael Steele implemented the Criminal Justice Cadet Corps (CJCC) in 2013. The mission of the CJCC is to provide students with a comprehensive program of training, competition, service, and practical experiences. Character development, leadership, command presence, physical fitness, good citizenship and patriotism are integral components of the Cadet Corps. Cadets are a primary supporter of school activities and serve as a positive role model for all students by participating in community service, practical exercises and competition. Cadets develop an awareness of the critical real world skill set necessary to learn and grow in preparation for college and career.

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Executive Principal, Mr. Steele and Academy Coach, Dr. Jennifer Berry motivating students and cadets.

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Academy Principal Gail Merkerson presents the Cadet Corps at a school assembly.

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Lt. Stine and an ROTC Officer from Vanderbilt University

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Capt. Simmons and an alumnus from West Point

Captain Blake Simmons and 1st Lt. Jordan Stine attended the U.S. Military Academy conference hosted by Congressman Jim Cooper. Captain Simmons and Lt. Stine met with Congressman Cooper and staff, West Point cadets, Naval Academy cadets, and Vanderbilt Army and Air Force ROTC cadets.

Stratford STEM Magnet High School’s Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies teachers, administration, and students are proud to have a strong mentoring and business partnership with the following:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Society of Former FBI Special Agents
  • Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • Tennesse Bureau of Investigation
  • Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
  • Medal of Honor Foundation
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • United States Marine Corps
  • United States Army National Guard
  • Stratford Alumni Association (Retired FBI Special Agent Steed, Class of 1970)
  • Parents of Cadet Corps Students

Stratford Student Shadows in Cancer Research Lab

Job shadowing gives students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Taronda W., a student from Stratford STEM Magnet High School,  participated in a job shadow at Diatech Oncology Lab.  In this post, Taronda writes about her experiences.

Diatech Oncology

I attended the Diatech Oncology lab and visited Ms. Patti. She talked about cells and she made cells. She let us make our own microscope slides. First we dipped the cell in four types of stain and then alcohol. Next, we looked at the cell on a digital microscope. We were able to see all the colors combined with the cells. Then, she let us take them home. Afterwards, she showed us her robot. Her robot pipets everything. She also let us see how you could keep up with the pipetting on the computer, which monitored each row. Our pipets at school have you do one at a time by hand (96 holes). Ms. Patti’s pipets have four tips at a time and her robot does it in less than 15 minutes.

My favorite part was when we got to wear real lab coats that Ms. Patti and her crew wear in their lab. I also enjoyed it because she talked a lot about breast cancer. She also talked about how she and her crew treat the different types of breast cancer. I was interested because I had a family member die of breast cancer when I was little. I didn’t know as much as I know now since I visited Ms. Patti’s lab. I enjoyed her job position and sharing it with me – it couldn’t have been better.

Metro Students Dig In

Students from Glencliff, McGavock, Overton, and Whites Creek High Schools travelled to the Nashville Research and Education Farm at Tennessee State University on Tuesday, Sept. 16 to get hands-on experience in land judging. Davidson County Soil and Water Conservation, the Natural Resources Conservation Services, and TSU Agriculture and Environmental Science professors worked with students to learn about the physical characteristics of soil, how to interpret the best land uses, recommend management practices, and even examine the suitability for homesites.

This experiential learning opportunity marks the first annual event at Tennessee State University and reflects the continued growth of the agriculture programs within the Academies of Nashville. A team of four students will represent each school next week at the Middle Tennessee Regional FFA Contest at the Highland Rim Experiment Station in Springfield.



FFA members from Glencliff, McGavock, Overton, and Whites Creek pose as a group before making their way into the soil judging pits.

FFA members from Glencliff, McGavock, Overton, and Whites Creek pose as a group before making their way into the soil judging pits.

Students in soil pit

Students work with TSU Scientist and Research Professor Dr. Jason DeKoff to evaluate the soil at the Research Farm.

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Students wet down the soil in order to determine a variety of properties that can be found in a single handful of soil.

Overton Students Show Off their Green Thumbs

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. Rebecca Farrow,  an agricultural education teacher at Overton High School recently shared her experiences after receiving this type of support from the Natural Resources Conservation Services and University of Tennessee Extension Office to help grow her program, student, and school. 

On September 11th Shantel King, a Soil Conservationist from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), came to Overton High School to speak with the dual-credit Greenhouse Management students. She presented information about the importance of soil, opportunities within NRCS, and how NRCS works within our communities. Students completed a hands-on soil texture analysis to identify sand, silt, and clay particles and then were challenged to correctly identify an unknown soil sample. Students also learned how to pace off a distance for determining slope of a landscape and discussed the purpose of soil and land judging. The presentation provided great background information for the District FFA Land Judging Career Development event at Tennessee State University’s Experiential Learning Farm Lab where we will be competing against students from Williamson and Davidson Counties.


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On Monday, September 15th Overton’s urban agriculture students spent time working in the garden. As summer crops come to an end, now is the perfect time to start cool season vegetables and greens. With the help of Dan Harrell, UT Extension Agent specializing in school and community gardens, students prepared garden beds and planted turnip and collard greens for a late fall harvest.

Students in the urban agriculture program are working with community members and local organizations to learn how to meet the challenges of agriculture in a growing world, including growing and harvesting local food. For more information about the Urban Agriculture pathway at Overton High School, visit


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Teacher Team-Building Beyond the Classroom

Saturday, Sept. 6, Stratford STEM Magnet High School took to the Cumberland River for the Cumberland River Compact’s 8th annual Dragon Boat Festival.  A team of twenty-one was comprised students, teachers, parents, and business partners who all came together for top honors in this team sport.

Stratford’s best time of the day, was one minute eleven seconds; a much better time than in 2013 with one minute twenty-five seconds.  Despite the rain, the team had a great time and was cheered on by students, parents, partners, and staff.  In between heats, Stratford teachers could be seen working on their laptops planning lessons together and writing project-based learning curriculum.

Stay tuned as they prepare to battle it out again in 2015.


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Stratford shows that collaboration and teamwork are necessary outside the classroom and work place.

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The team waits at the starting line to begin the race.

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Between heats, teachers could be found working on lesson plans and project-based learning curriculum.

Local FFA chapters receive Environmental Grant from National FFA Organization

Nationwide grant program supports local chapter to engage in service-learning project. 

The McGavock and Overton FFA chapters have both been awarded a $2,000 grant from the National FFA Organization’s Living to Serve: Environmental Grant program. These chapters have developed a year-long service-learning project to meet a local environmental need. The Living to Serve: Environmental Grants are provided through funding from CSX, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

McGavock FFA Chapter

McGavock FFA is one of the longest running FFA chapters in Nashville with a history of success. Students in this program study pre-veterinary science in the Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science and Law.  McGavock FFA is collecting used household items to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” into pet toys for a local animal shelter. To further reduce waste, FFA members are also conducting a DIY recycled pet toy contest with local 8th graders to educate them on why we should all reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Overton FFA Chapter

Overton High School is one of four agriculture programs in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and is focusing on urban agriculture. Many of the students in this area are recent immigrants to the United States. A reality of urban areas is that most families have limited space and for many, limited resources. Urban and community gardens are gaining in popularity, especially with families that are looking to grow more diverse produce for ethnic cooking. Whether the family has access to a small garden of their own or a church or community garden, they could benefit from soil amendments with the heavy clay soils here in middle Tennessee. Composting allows families to reduce their waste while creating a very useful soil amendment. This grant project will teach local community members about the benefits of composting and help them set-up a composting program. The grant will focus on small scale composting including small outdoor bins, tumblers, and vermicomposting (using worms) that can be conducted indoors for families with minimal or no yard space. As part of this grant, the chapter will host a minimum of three educational workshops over the life of the grant. Two will be for elementary or middle school students from their feeder schools teaching them about vermicomposting, including setting up a compost bin for their classrooms. The third workshop will be for the local community and will present different composting set ups including tumblers, small bins, and vermicomposting. Students will present different compost designs and evaluate their use with the workshop attendees. As a result of this grant, students will create a minimum of four different styles of composting bins and a vermicomposting center for the classroom. Inputs will be tracked to determine how much waste is diverted out of the trash stream. Students will use this information to create an Agriscience Fair research project and could potentially start a variety of Supervised Agricultural Experience projects as a result.

These projects illustrate the final line of the FFA motto (“Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve”) by encouraging FFA members to unite in service within their communities. The Living to Service: Environmental Grants take community serve one step further to service-learning, which provides a meaningful way to apply leadership and education skills learned in school and FFA. More information about this program can be found at

Antioch HS Named Reward School

Breaking a new record for the district, 18 Metro schools have been named 2014 Reward Schools by the state Department of Education. That’s an enormous jump from last year’s list of 12 schools, and it’s representative of the increased student achievement district wide. As a district, Metro Schools posted some of the highest scores statewide for growth in several subjects. And among those reward schools identified, Antioch High School was the only high school in the district to make the list!

Schools with Reward status are among the highest performing in the state. They are given the designation for landing in the top five percent of all schools statewide for growth, performance or both. Of the 18 Metro schools on the list, five are there for performance, nine for growth and four in both categories.

“These 18 schools reach across geography and across type. They are schools making a difference for our students, helping them grow and achieve,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “We are very proud of the work they do, and we need to see more of this kind of progress elsewhere in the district. These schools have found a path to success, and they are the ones to follow.

Reward schools for progress are determined according to the Tennessee Value-added Assessment System (TVAAS) growth index, which is the state’s system for measuring growth. Metro elementary and middle schools have the second highest TVAAS growth index in the state for math and are in the top five percent statewide for reading / language arts. Metro high schools, meanwhile, have the best TVAAS growth index in the state for English II and are in the top five percent for English I.

One of the schools making the most growth in Tennessee is Antioch High School. From 2007 to 2010, Antioch was in one of the lowest categories for achievement under No Child Left Behind. This year they are the very first zoned high school in Nashville to earn Reward Status.

“Antioch has been on a journey for several years,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle-Koger, Antioch’s executive principal. “With our Reward School status, International Baccalaureate and wall-to-wall model Academies, it’s great to be able to offer South Nashville one of the best high school choices in the state.”


Whites Creek High School Virtual Tour

Take a tour of Whites Creek High School.  Learn more about the Academies at Whites Creek and what learning looks like in Metro Nashville Public Schools.


Which School is Right for Me?

Selecting the right high school, with the right academy, is an important step for students and families in Nashville. More options are available than ever before and the option school application provides families with the chance to sign up for the program that best fits their needs. Visiting our schools is an important step in the decision-making process.

Showcases provide an opportunity to experience the school environment, learn more about academy offerings, talk with teachers and current students, and meet school leadership. Even if you miss a showcase that interests you, call the school and ask to schedule a visit.  All of the Academies of Nashville offer a unique selection of academies that are tailored to students’ interests and provide college-preparatory education.


High School Date Time Phone Number
Antioch High School Tuesday, October 21 5:30 – 7:00 615-641-5400
Cane Ridge High School Friday, October 17 4:00 – 6:00 615-687-4000
Glencliff High School Tuesday, September 30 6:00 – 7:30 615-333-5070
Hillsboro High School Friday, September 12 5:00 – 6:45 615-298-8400
Hillwood High School Thursday, October 30 5:45 – 7:00 615-353-2025
Hunters Lane High School Thursday, October 16 6:00 – 7:30 615-860-1401
Maplewood High School Wednesday, October 15 6:00 – 8:00 615-262-6770
McGavock High School Tuesday, September 23 6:30 – 8:00 615-885-8850
Overton High School Friday, October 17 5:00 – 7:00 615-333-5135
Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School Thursday, October 16 6:00 – 7:30 615-329-8150
Stratford STEM MagnetHigh School Tuesday, October 21 5:30 – 7:30 615-242-6730
The MNPS Virtual School Wednesday, October 22 4:30 – 6:00 615-463-0188 ext. 3900
Whites Creek High School Tuesday, October 28 6:00 – 7:30 615-876-5132

How do you spell leadership?


The Academies of Nashville hosted its third annual Ambassador Leadership Conference last month where more than 200 high school ambassadors learned about the student leadership challenge.  Ambassadors learned to model the way, challenge the process, encourage the heart, enable others to act, and inspire a shared vision; skills that will be called upon during their year as an Academy Ambassador. But, what else do you get when you bring 200 future leaders together into one room? A ton of fun, camaraderie, and memories!




Job Shadowing Provides Different Perspectives for Stratford Students

Job shadowing give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Austin S., a student from Stratford STEM Magnet High School,  participated in a job shadow at Emma. Additionally, Jorge C. participated in a job shadow to Universal Robotics.  In this post, Austin and Jorge write about their experiences.


Stratford at Emma


It was a wonderful opportunity to be at Emma for a job shadow. I learned a lot of skills within the amount of time we had during each study. I really enjoyed Kat’s role as Scrum Master, and the role she plays in development. What stood out to me the most was when she mentioned the two concepts, Waterfall and Agile, and how each of it differs from one another; Agile, being set rules and Waterfall, having an open space to think freely.

Kevin’s role was awesome to learn about because he knows that if he makes a mistake he can go back and fix that mistake. The app he is designing looks great! I want that app for myself to try it out.

I also enjoyed learning what Scot does and it looks like he has the most complex job there at Emma. It was an honor to see what he does. The visual representation was the best part of the session, and I was flabbergasted by the things he does with all the codes. For example, reading the codes, and how he can pick out which person is doing the right or wrong thing and not messing up.

Last but certainly not least is Mary with the marketing role. What stood out to me most was when she said that there are repeating ads for when you go to different websites, CPC (cost per click), and how she uses Google Analytics and different websites to analyze all the data she receives.

I also enjoyed making our app and it was fun! I hope one day the app we thought of will be used and we can create it in the future. The Q&A was a great experience as well. I enjoyed speaking to all of them. Overall this was a great experience and it has shown me the diversity of the tech field.  I will definitely learn more about the fusion of technology and the restaurant field.


Straford at Universal Robotics


I was in awe from the moment we pulled in the driveway, when I noticed that that Universal Robotics wasn’t just any old office building but a house in a regular neighborhood. Hearing Mr. Peters explain his and the company’s background was very intriguing. He also introduced the group to new software being created by his company that will make an impact on the Internet by evolving search engines.

Later in the day, we visited the lab in the backyard. There was a robotic arm in the facility, and one of the employees gave us a demonstration by lifting boxes. The arm functions with suction cups underneath it and uses a vacuum force to lift the boxes and places them on a platform. Another tool that was demonstrated was a laser that made a 3-D design on the computer. The laser reads any object on a flat surface and creates a 3D model using a special software on the computer.

Each employee had his or her own unique background, most didn’t even know they were going to be there at one point in time. Then it hit me that you can succeed in life if you put time and effort into it. I thank Universal Robotics for the time they had to spare for us, to come and visit their facility.

Student receives Former Agents of the FBI Foundation Character Development Award

On Sept. 9, Mr. Stephens, Blake S., and Blake’s family deployed to Knoxville, Tennessee. The FBI Retired Agents Association implemented the Character Development Program. This program is attempting to instill character into youth. They have offered a $2500 scholarship to two people, a male and a female, that have exemplified extraordinary character. At approximately 1730 hours from the Holiday Inn hotel, a convoy unit consisting of a police escort and a charter bus departed to Neyland Stadium. This bus was filled with Medal of Honor recipients, and retired FBI agents. At Neyland Stadium a dinner was served, followed by the actual ceremony. Ellen Glasser was leading this event, and introduced Tommy Norris. He received a Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. While in Vietnam one of his eyes was injured beyond use. He persevered and by beating policy and expectations, he became a FBI agent. Norris was warm hearted, an always quick to laugh at himself. “I don’t know which camera to look at, good thing my eyes look in different directions.”


Blake received his award for character that evening, and was invited to participate in a teacher-training course the following day. At this training Blake was able to see vignettes of Medal of Honor recipients, and have a Q&A with two recipients. Blake Simmons received a standing ovation after he was introduced to the crowd, which exceeded 50 people. Blake says that this amazing opportunity would not of been possible without the constant support of Mr. Stephens and Mr. Steele.


Stratford STEM Magnet’s Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies ambassador B. Simmons, won the FBI Foundation Character Development award.  Simmons will receive a $2,500 bond and all-expense paid trip to Knoxville Tuesday, Sept. 9,  where he will be presented the award by former FBI Agent, Navy SEAL, and Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Tommy Norris. Congratulations B. Simmons!