Academies of Nashville

Need More Energy? Watch This.

Originally shared by Ford Next Generation Learning. 

With relatives living all the way in Jamaica, Shakarah transformed her academy network into her family. Through her Alternative Energy production class she developed meaningful relationships with her peers that are sure to last a lifetime.

Join Shakarah as she introduces us to the world class, and famous Alternative Energy program at Whites Creek High School. Unlock the power of the network here.

 

 

What Is Our Story?

From state take-over to national model. 

During the 2006-2007 school year, the Academies of Nashville was only a dream– an ambitious, high school transformation effort that would bring together families, educators, and the community to improve our schools.

Ten years later, that dream has come to fruition. Graduation rates have increased. Student attendance is at an all-time high. Discipline referrals have significantly dropped. Business engagement in the school system has never been stronger and more powerful.

But there is much more to this success than the statistics along. It is the stories that touch our hearts. This past month, the Academies of Nashville were able to celebrate their ten year anniversary at Nissan Stadium with 300 of its closest friends and partners. Partners were also able to sign a recommitment statement with PENCIL to commit to the work ahead in the next ten years. Academies of Nashville graduates Shakarah Nelson, Katherine Hernandez, and Ben Zolkower shared their stories of how their high school education impacted their future.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this event, and the past ten years, a success. We specifically want to thank our founding partners Alignment Nashville, Ford NGL, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, PENCIL, and the Ford Hub. We appreciate you.

To see and hear more about the event, check out the coverage by WSMV here.

 

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Academy Coaches from the past ten years pose with a commemorative Hatch Show Print. Academy Coaches act as the business partner liaison for schools in the Academy model.

 

Microsoft displayed some of its newest technology to assist partners in recommitting to the work of the Academies of Nashville.

Microsoft displayed some of its newest technology to assist partners in recommitting to the work of the Academies of Nashville.

 

Every business partner and school employee in attendance received a commemorative Hatch Show Print to recognize the work of the past decade in the Academies of Nashville.

Every business partner and school employee in attendance received a commemorative Hatch Show Print to recognize the work of the past decade in the Academies of Nashville.

 

Academies graduates shared their stories of how the Academies of Nashville impacted their education. Throughout the evening, Jody Lenz recorded their inspiring messages through graphic listening.

Academies of Nashville graduates shared their stories of how the Academies of Nashville impacted their education. Throughout the evening, Jody Lenz recorded their inspiring messages through graphic listening.

The National Emmy Awards: Laith Emmy Award

The awards have been piling up for Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School student, Laith Emanuel, including the prestigious honor for receiving a National Student Emmy Award at 16-years-old. Congratulations Laith!

See Laith and Mr. Anthony Young’s acceptance speech from the awards ceremony.

See the entire Citizen Laith documentary.

Exploring Our Options

Job shadowing give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Jacquelyn M. and Chassity S., students from Maplewood High School,  participated in a job shadow with the Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital.  In this post, Jacquelyn and Cassity write about their experience.

20170112_123552We learned many things in the Neuroscience unit at Saint Thomas Hospital on our job shadow experience. Going into this program we had no idea of what to expect and we encountered a lot of surprises. We encountered a lot of unsuspected things, such as checking a patient’s incisions. We had a lot of patients come in to recover from back surgeries, so one of our main priorities was trying to make the patients comfortable. We were on our feet a lot due to us having to check on our patients and bring them the medicines they needed when they needed it. We didn’t know how fit nurses had to be. Every time a patient received medical care or medicine it had to be tracked and reported. We also had to follow all of the HIPPA rules and regulations. We knew that HIPPA was part of being in the medical field, but experiencing it first-hand made us see how serious it was.

Some of the best moments were when we introduced ourselves to the staff and patients, and they were so welcoming and nice. A lot of the patients had many interesting stories to tell. The work environment was very social yet professional. It helped us obtain good communication skills and a good day’s exercise. The feeling of helping people was the best ever.

This job shadow has given us a great inside look into the medical field, and a career in nursing. In the future we would definitely like to go back and do it again, preferably in different fields of study, so we can explore our options.

Ideas, Plans, and Careers for my Future- Connie Tran, Overton High School

Every student enters the career fair with feelings of savory excitement from the thought that they are beginning to step out and make their mark on the world. Each person realizes that have the chance to be whoever or whatever they dream. The fair offered me that experience, but I felt shaky at first, questions popping into my head, asking myself, am I really ready for this? Am I ready to find out how I will contribute to society? However, in that period of time, I knew didn’t have to decide right there on the spot, so I went exploring to uncover a potential “me” at the fair. However, before I had entered the career fair, I had already a few preferences in mind; I wanted to work in the STEM field, and I had narrowed down my choices to the science field particularly. Knowing what sort of display I had in mind, I approached a booth relating to a medical field first. I interviewed a resident physician , Anna Kate Moen, who worked at Vanderbilt Pediatrics Residents. In my mind, the medical field had always interested me than the any other because not only could you study the world of medicine and humans, but also witness the effect I have always seen medical workers instill; they have the power to help change a life for the better. Moen told me about how her career has changed over the past years, and I found that it required a lot of schooling to achieve where she is now. 4 years of college, 4 of medical, and 3 years training got Moen in her current status. Since she is involved in pediatrics, she does a lot of work for children, and told me that winter was the toughest season of them all. I soaked up the knowledge, and was able to make a connection with my sister who was recently sick. This booth also really caught my attention because it had a hands on activity. Students were shown how to do stiches and able to test their stitch work on an orange. I feel this booth had the most influence on me because it was already in my most interested category and that it drew me closer to the medical field when I was deciding on a future academy. Although, I believed it is important to see what other careers had to offer, so my next stop was Stephanie Weeden Wright who specializes in electrical and computer/engineering. This was another STEM career, but I had not given much thought to the engineering section as much, so I was able to really broaden my horizons. Wright worked with Lipscomb University and was also a professor. She explained to me what some special challenges that people encounter in the job. “As an engineer, you have to work with other people and effectively communicate your ideas to other engineers.” This quote from Wright was able to provide me with a clear image of the effort it must take to get your ideas and opinions across because in the world of engineering, it is like clockwork; you need all the gears to make it spin. However, when I see every booth in the career fair, I wonder if this is their true calling or something they enjoy. I asked Wright that if she had the ability to start all over again, would she have changed anything about it. She once again explained to me that her job is much appreciated, “No, being an engineer is awesome. I’m getting paid to do what I love.” This quote got me really positive about the limitless and possible careers in the world, and I was determined to create an opportunity in order pursue a profession I really admire. So far, I had really been inspired and motivated to acquire a passion, but patience was needed. Before, I went to another booth, I could see Shoney’s was handing out cookies. I wondered what a great sponsor, and I hope wherever I work for will have the something similar where it influences people and society in a constructive way. Of course, I realized I should ponder these things later when I am actually on my way to the working world. However, to be honest, I can see where it influences my future decision-making because if I want to work, I desire for it to be with a cause. Where you work can represent a lot about you more than you thought I realized at that moment because my opinion of Shoney’s had changed. If you like your job, then you must have a reason to why to continue you passions. With that thought in my mind, I searched up an average number of jobs in Tennessee and found an amazing number. There was a range of up to 800 non profit jobs available, for civilians to participate in [2]. Seeing a sponsor up close, and what they do really lets me grow as an individual and tells me that there is way more out there, then just what you would see in an average classroom. My perspectives and views used to be more limited because I was unaware of certain facts and opportunities, but now that I can identify more options, then I can fully control what kind of job I want without having to hope and guess that I chose something in my best interest.
Speaking of best interest, I actually had a look at charts for income rates in Tennessee last taken in 2014. Even as high schooler, I thought it would be important to know what was the average income rates in the state in which I live in. After looking at the chart, I was able to examine what I would most likely be making or above, if I am able to dedicate my time in my career that benefits society. Although, I do realize it is not just about the money. Of course, it is a necessity, but at the career fair when I talked to each person at their booth, I wanted to love my future job as much as they love theirs. This helped me walk on the right path because it straightened by priorities and assisted me to understand that there is more to a job than earning money. So, my goals and decisions were influenced to pick a career that does not just pay well, but secure a job that would benefit me also as a person and individual.

Figure 1: chart of Tennessee income rates up 1994-2014 [1]
Besides subjects in school that interest me, I also look up to my parents. My mother works at the bank, and she deals in the investigation of fake checks. Having this kind of background, I decided to check out the Tennessee Credit Union, whose booth was run by Tracy Dain. Dain displayed different types of forgeries possible, and after watching some of the work and understanding it, I realized that it is an important to have a good background knowledge on whatever career you are pursuing because I was able to understand and interpret well when I could make a connection with prior knowledge or with a concept I learned over time. Another booth I approached was held by the Belmont of College of Pharmacy hosted by Professor Kiningham. Kiningham told me about her education after high school. I asked because I wanted to know where would I be in high school, and she described to me that after high school, she had 2 years of college and 4 years of pharmacy. I really find the medical field interesting, but medicine itself with the capsules and prescriptions, I had not learned much in detail, so I asked Kiningham what kind of skills would be most crucial to her job. She elucidated the importance of being organized, having the integrity and interest of a scientist, and working really hard. I figured the last was a given, but I did find her speech very significant. It brought me a taste of reality once again on how if I truly wanted to achieve my dream job, I would have to work harder than ever to grab hold of opportunities, and not let sit idly by and wait for chances to come knocking into me. Most of all, Kiningham said that this job requires you to “care.” A synonym to care would be passion, so having a passion is one of the most important elements of any career. I contemplated that I had not peaked where I already figured out what really drew me in all the way, but it impacted my perspective that I should search and pursue an occupation that always keeps me interested and alive. One of the last booths I visited was the Dialysis Clinic, Inc. who was arranged by Patricio Avendano, a corporate. Honestly, when I approached the booth, I had no idea what was dialysis. However, Avendano defined that it dealt with substitutes for kidneys in the body when the organ is no longer able to proper functionally. I was very excited to learn something new and captivating, and I questioned why he had chosen this career field, what made him develop an interest. Avendano replied that he once was a technician that had worked with machines and enjoyed fixing things. Then, his machines were able to function as an artificial kidney. I found this rather fascinating because one interest in a certain area, had developed into another. Avendano also explained a few of the important skills to have, which were math and trouble-shooting. I realize that math is a core subject, so you really do have to use it everyday no matter what your job may be and I should take advantage on the learning opportunities I can grab ahold of. Avendano’s lecture allowed me to see that a prior interest could still open doors for another opportunity. I was able to become more open-minded and decide that just because I had one career, did not mean I could not pursue another in a totally different field.

After the end of the day, I felt like I was able to discover something new behind the uncertain gray clouds, a sun peeking through. It is up to me to find that sun and passion, but I registered that as “wake up” sign. School is very crucial in a journey to success because without it, I would not be able to grab hold of as many opportunities. This changed my way of thinking at my education and my surroundings. A successful person realizes that knowledge is power, so that has influenced me to gain as much as I can. Learning more about the different types of careers really made my world seem bigger and I was able to develop a more open-minded attitude. Narrowing down what profession I would pursue is still a mystery at the moment, but I was able to narrow my focus and concentration on my school work, and I was influenced in a positive way where the career I decide to follow is chosen out of passion and not just a job. My long-term and short-term goals have also changed for the better because I can already see myself paving a path down to a bright future.

Sources Cited
[1]Krause, Mike. “Profiles and Trends Section I. State Context of Higher Education.” Profiles and Trends Section I. State Context of Higher Education – TN.Gov. TN.gov, 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
[2] “Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.” Non Profit Jobs, Employment in Tennessee | Indeed.com. Indeed, 2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

Exploring the Path to My Future- Janeth Gonzalez, Hunters Lane High School

Last week, I attended a field trip that has changed my perspective on my future career. Along with over 300 of my classmates, we traveled to the Music City Center for the Freshmen Career Fair. Once we arrived, I was totally amazed at all of the different types of jobs that are available out there. I spent an hour walking around and interviewing professionals with many different backgrounds. From construction professionals to veterinarians, I saw a lot of jobs that seemed very interesting and some that seemed boring.
At our school, the Career Fair was more than just a one-day event. In our Freshmen Seminar class, we spent a week talking about what to wear, how to introduce ourselves, and how to interview a professional. We spent time practicing our interview questions and which booths we were going to visit. This was really helpful as we prepared for the Career Fair because I had a plan when I arrived. Also, I was not nervous because I practiced my questions and knew what I was going to say. From this experience, I learned that self-presentation and communication are very important skills in the business world. Also, I saw the importance of being prepared and practicing our interviews. In the future, I will spend more time preparing for work to make sure I do a good job.
Before I went to the Career Fair, I thought I really wanted to work with animals. So, I was very excited to talk to the veterinarian and ask questions about the profession. As it turns out, I think that will be the perfect career for me. The vet was very friendly and nice to me which made me think that she really liked her job. We talked about caring for different animals and going to school to get my degree. By going to the Career Fair and talking to the vet, I feel really confident in my decision and am excited to pursue my interest in taking care of animals.
While going to the Career Fair helped me decide on my future career, I also talked to a lot of other people from different jobs. This was probably the most interesting and unexpected part of the trip. Obviously, I was drawn to the career I knew I liked, but I found I was interested in other careers as well. For example, I talked to the people from the fire department, and I thanked them for saving people and doing such a hard job. Although I never see myself doing that job, I have a respect for them and recognize their sacrifice. Also, I learned so much from my conversation with them. We discussed the job requirements, training, and work schedule. This is just one of many examples of really interesting conversations I had while at the Career Fair.
The overall experience at the Career Fair is certainly one I will not forget. For all of those people to take time out of their busy days to talk to us was really meaningful. Everyone I talked to was very friendly and seemed interested in our conversations. Sometimes I think teenagers, like me, do not always see and appreciate the opportunities that we have. For me, the Career Fair was a really awesome opportunity to start thinking about my future and experience different types of jobs. Before I went to the Career Fair, I did not think much about my future career. I knew I really liked animals and wanted to be able to take care of them. So, talking to the veterinarian was great because it helped me realize that was a great job for me. Moving forward, I was always remember this experience and use the information I learned to keep me on track to pursue my goals.

Cheers, Tears, and Celebrating Ten Years

This year is the Academies of Nashville 10-Year Anniversary!

While we will be celebrating all year long, we hosted a special presentation at the December Administrative and Supervisory Meeting last week. Hear from students from each of the Academies of Nashville schools on how the academies have helped their pursue their college and career goals.

Nnadozie Ibe, Antioch High School, Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance

 

Jarad McCray, Cane Ridge High School, Academy of Law

Reanas Saleh, Glencliff High School, Hands On Nashville Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning

Olivia Zavitson, Hillsboro High School, US Community Credit Union Academy of International Business and Communication

Tevion Turner, Hillwood High School, Academy of Health Sciences

Alanna Brown, Hunters Lane High School, Academy of International Baccalaureate

BreeAnna Collins, Maplewood High School, Academy of Sports Medicine and Wellness

Victor Ochoa, McGavock High School, Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality

Khai Hardin, Overton High School, Academy of Information Technology

Jacob Graham, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, Academy of Entertainment Communication

Jack Utley, Stratford STEM Magnet High School, Academy of Science and Engineering

Jacob Williams, Whites Creek High School, Academy of Community Health

Championing Career Academies

Metro Schools was recognized by the National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) for being a champion of the career academy model, marked by small learning communities, college-prep curriculum with career themes and partnerships with local employers, higher education institutions and the community. Several schools as well as community partners were honored at the NCAC conference held in Tampa earlier this month.

McGavock High School Receives Jeffrey N. Stein Award

The Jeffrey N. Stein Award recognizes a school with career academies that demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to and passion for career academies as catalysts for helping all students, and especially disadvantaged students, according to Susan Katzman, recent past-president of the National Career Academy Coalition.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Jeffrey Stein for many years, and as a businessman and an educator, he exemplified passion, commitment and the pursuit of excellence. He did not do anything if he could not do it well. His widow Judy and a former executive director of NCAC wanted to create an award in his honor for schools that exhibit the same qualities,” said Katzman. “I am pleased to present this year’s award to McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee. They began the career academy process in 2008 and perfected their work over the next eight years. They have model academies, numerous business partners and successful students. You cannot google McGavock without seeing a YouTube video of President Obama visiting and speaking at the school in 2013.”

Meharry Medical College and Bridgestone Americas Receive Partnership Awards

Also recognized at the NCAC conference were Meharry Medical College and Bridgestone Americas, which both received the Henk Koning Exemplary Partnership Award for their continued support and partnerships with academies in Metro Schools.

Dr. Susan DeRiemer, a professor at Meharry Medical College has led Meharry’s partnership with the Glencliff High School Academy of Medical Science & Research (AMSR) almost since its beginning. Meharry, founded in 1876, is one of the oldest and largest historically black medical colleges in the United States that has always focused on training talented individuals from challenging socio-economic backgrounds and prepared them to go into underserved areas to work. Highlights of the partnership includes:

  • Externships for the academy teachers;
  • Curricular support throughout the course of the school year to carry out the project based learning endeavors;
  • Medical Interpreting pathway (started in 2014) that was co-written by Dr. DeRiemer and members of the AMSR faculty. This curriculum is the first of its kind in the nation and has been adopted by the Tennessee Department of Education as an approved pathway.

Bridgestone Americas has embraced the Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, even exposing the students to international business leaders from Japan and South America, supporting students to develop beyond basic mechanic skills and become potential corporate executives. Highlights of the partnership with Maplewood High School include:

  • Transforming Maplewood’s high school automotive shop into a one-of-a-kind automotive training center in cooperation with Firestone Complete Auto Care. This included building an official Customer Service Center inside the school and providing students with access to and training on the proprietary software used in the Firestone organization;
  • Enhancing course offerings by encouraging all students to take at least one course in Marketing and Management;
  • Investing more than $300,000 in building the Firestone training center, the organization provides 2 to 3 staff members on a regular basis every couple of weeks to provide industry training to students.

Thirteen Metro Schools Receive NCAC Accreditation

In addition, the following Metro schools officially received NCAC Accreditation during the conference:

  1. Cane Ridge High School – Academy of Health Management
  2. Glencliff High School – Academy of Medical Science and Research
  3. Hillsboro High School – Academy of Global Health and Science
  4. Hillwood High School – Academy of Health Science
  5. Hillwood High School – Academy of Business and Hospitality
  6. Hillwood High School – Academy of Art, Design, and Communication
  7. Maplewood High School – Academy of Energy and Power
  8. McGavock High School – US Community Credit Union/ Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality and Finance
  9. McGavock High School – CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication
  10. McGavock High School – Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Science and Law
  11. McGavock High School – Academy of Aviation and Transportation
  12. Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School – Academy of Entertainment Management
  13. Whites Creek High School – Academy of Education and Law

For more information on the National Career Academy Coalition, visit http://www.ncacinc.com.

Hispanic Heritage Month- Drawing Inspiration from Aspiring Engineers

By Rashed Fakhruddin, Engineering Supervisor, Nashville Electric Service

Through the Academies of Nashville, Metro Nashville Public Schools, in collaboration with the business community, works diligently to prepare students to graduate ready for post-secondary education and successful careers.

As an Academy business partner, Nashville Electric Service (NES) plays an important role in providing students with experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and job shadowing which assist future graduates with developing the necessary employability skills to be successful in their future careers.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to highlight two students from John Overton High School who interned with NES’ Design Engineering department through Conexión Américas ‘Escalera: Taking Steps to Success’ program, which works with young adults who will be first generation college students in their families.

Juan Martinez and Eric Jaramillo made an impression on the employees of NES during their 40-hour internship last July. They exhibited great work ethics by interning with NES for half the day and then going straight to their construction jobs immediately following.

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These bright students got an overview of NES’ substation controls and communication designs. They learned about system protection and distribution planning. They visited both the test and system control departments and observed the very impressive SCADA operations center.

They were also active participants in our project meetings, including a conference call with a manufacturer that NES was working through several issues with. On the call, engineers with the manufacturer were speaking in English to us and in Spanish among themselves. Juan and Eric stepped in and translated the conversations to help clear up the previous miscommunication. Our interns became heroes overnight. This highlights the importance of speaking a second language, which is an asset of many students attending MNPS. Over 30 percent speak a second language at home and more than 100 languages are spoken by students from over 75 different countries.

juan-in-engineering-meeting

Although born in the U.S., Juan and Eric are of Mexican heritage, as is NES board member, Irma Paz-Bernstein. Upon completion of their internship, Irma invited them both to her business, Las Paletas, for a visit. The next day, Irma emailed me the following message:

 

Dear Rashed, 

I was happy to meet with Eric & Juan. The idea of inspiring young people always moves me. The interesting thing that happens is that something magical flips things around and I am the one that walks away different.

Listening to their hopes, their stories, their situations and how ready they are to be lifted, to fly, just made my heart grow. I thank you for the opportunity to be inspired and moved.

Peace, always,

Irma

 

As much as we try to inspire these young adults, many times we are the ones who are changed in the process.

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Tennessee Credit Union Welcomes Students to Main Branch

TTCU was excited to host 42 sophomores from Antioch High School Sept. 29. The students are from TTCU’s Academy of Business and Finance and all are in the Accounting pathway.

The students visited our Main Nashville Branch to learn about careers in Banking and Finance. We are proud to be able to help guide the students in their future careers by discussing the job responsibilities of various positions in the credit union and financial services industry, such as tellers, member service representatives, branch managers, fraud prevention specialists, IT professionals, marketing managers, and internal audit & accounting leaders.

Saint Thomas Health Scholars Program Puts Students on Career Path to Healthcare

Originally posted to Saint Thomas Health Beat

It was a night to shine. It was a night to celebrate. One hundred students from nine high schools with health & science academies in Metro Nashville were selected to the Saint Thomas Health Scholars Program. The program, one of the first of its kind in the nation, provides mentoring and hands-on experience in the healthcare field in hopes of paving a career path for these seniors once they graduate from high school. The program also prepares them to take the certification exam at the end of the school year to become a medical assistant. All this at no charge to the students and their families.

Saint Thomas Health, a part of Ascension, partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools for this inaugural program. A special event was held at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville to commission the students into the program.

That Somebody Way You

The Relentless Entertainment Group and Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School sent a very special welcome to Dr. Shawn Joseph on his “First Official Day” at work. The 2016 President of Relentless Entertainment Group, senior, Bre’Monte Carpenter was inspired to write this song in honor Dr. Joseph’s first official day.  A multi-talented Relentless vocal artist, senior, Shondia Pride provided the stirring vocal performance.

Check out the newest release from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, Our New MNPS Director of Schools, Dr. Joseph, That Somebody Was You!

 

Audio Production Students compete in Skills USA

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What Is Skills USA?

Skills USA is a convention for students to compete against each other by showcasing their professional and career abilities.
-Willow

What It Was Like To Compete

We were given a lot of freedom to create during competition. With only a simple prompt to follow, they would let us go out and record anywhere we wanted in the city. It was a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each other and having so much creative freedom.
-Jackson

Chattanooga Was Awesome

Chattanooga is such a beautiful city, its tasteful, timeless atmosphere made me feel right at home there. The relaxed, laid back scenery of the area was so calming it almost felt like a vacation!
-Willow

Getting to hang out with all the other students competing was also a ton of fun.
​-Jackson


What We Took Away From The Experience

I learned how enjoyable and satisfying it is to work on a professional level project and also the focus and work ethic it takes to pull one off.
Jackson

Learning not to have many expectations for any task before it is given was an important tool I picked up during competition. It prepared me for my career world while also simply giving me a good fundamental rule to live by.
-Willow


The Medals

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Greetings from the New Academies of Nashville Director

030As I start this new chapter in my career, I can’t help but to look back with thankfulness and look forward with hope and excitement. My professional career started more than 25 years ago as a teacher at Glencliff High School. It was there that I fell in love with teaching and helping shape the lives of young people. Within the first couple of years of teaching, we piloted some curriculum being offered by Ford Motor Company. Little did I know that exploration would be the catalyst for the journey that I have been blessed to travel for the past quarter of a century.

It was in those classrooms that we worked with teams of students to solve real business problems and allow those students to get dressed in their best to deliver their solutions to the executives of companies. It was in those classrooms that we learned to bring business partners into the classrooms to make learning authentic and to spark the curiosity of students that had once sat quietly in neat rows of desks. It was there that the Academies of Nashville dream began.

Spring forward twenty-five years and the dream of all students learning in this manner is at hand in MNPS high schools. In 2006, we were able to get a Small Learning Communities grant that would allow us to put the structure into place to build what we know as The Academies of Nashville. This work could not have happened without the dedication, vision and hard work of two great leaders that I have been blessed to learn from: Starr Herrman and Chaney Mosley. Each was able to bring the work that was needed at the time to the Academies of Nashville and each of their personalities and commitment will be forever etched on the organization.

As I look forward, I do so with hope and excitement that we can continue to nurture the process that has brought us to this place. As we approach our tenth year for the Academies of Nashville, I am honored to take on the role of director and want to build on the success that has brought over 2500 educators from around the country to study our work. My goal is to help support our stakeholders to move this work forward into the next quarter of a century. In the beginning, we wanted to improve the high school graduation rate—we moved that percentage from a dismal 58.2% in 2006 to a current rate of 81.6%. As we look to the future, I want to help many of our first-time college seekers believe that they can succeed at both college and career. I want to continue to give them the tools that are required not only to go to college, but to complete college and move into a career where they can begin to change the culture of poverty.

I continue to believe the tools for student success are bundled in the Academies of Nashville and my goal is to continue to learn from and nurture the 350 business partners that are committed to our work. Further, I hope to mentor and help develop the Academy Coaches as they are the “boots on the ground” at each of the academy schools that keep the spirit of the academies thriving. Indeed, it is with great hope and excitement that I believe the best days for the Academies of Nashville are yet to come.

Team Sparta Bots advances to FIRST Robotics Championship

Originally posted to MNPS Children First

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Congratulations to Sparta Bots, the robotics team at Stratford’s Academy of Science and Engineering, for coming out on top at the Smoky Mountain Regionals!

Stratford was part of the alliance team that included Rohawktics from Knoxville and Roboteers from Tremont, Illinois. They outperformed nearly fifty teams from Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

IMG_0309“Our team was supported by so many at the event and our students rose to the challenge and specialized in a great defender robot,” said Academy Principal Dr. Jennifer Berry, in an email to Children First. “A special and huge thank you to Ms. Hansen for guiding the team to victory and Ms. Bartley for assisting. A big shout out to David Peters and Universal Robotics for mentoring our team! It was truly a great moment to witness for our students and our school!”

Stratford has participated in the Smoky Mountain Regionals since 2013. Learn more about the robotics competition here.

Sparta Bots will now compete in the FIRST Championship competition set for later this month in St. Louis, Missouri. You can follow the results by watching live or visiting this page.