2013-14 graduation rate hits 78.7%
Nashville has reason to celebrate its public schools as the official graduation rate at Metro Schools reaches new heights, rising more than 20 percentage points in the last 10 years. The 2013-14 graduation rate hit 78.7%, up from 76.6% in 2012-13 and 58.2% in 2003-04.
These dramatic gains point to long-term improvements district-wide in all tiers. Ten years ago, last year’s graduates were in second grade. As they moved through elementary, middle and into high school, they experienced firsthand major educational changes like the move to higher standards, increased focused on social and emotional learning and a seismic shift in educational technology. Teaching and learning in Metro Schools are wholly different enterprises than they were 10 years ago, and those changes were clearly for the better.
“This news is welcome, and it is due to the hard work of the teachers and students of Metro Schools. They are to all be commended for reaching this milestone,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register.
Year over year, the graduation rate at Metro Schools grew twice as quickly as Tennessee as a whole last year, rising 2.1 percentage point versus the state average of 0.9 percentage points.
“The changes we’ve seen in our high schools in the last 10 years are remarkable. They are completely different schools reaching students in completely different ways,” Dr. Register said. “Students are finding ways to learn that work for them. Through high school innovations like the Academies of Nashville, our magnet schools, Virtual School, Middle College and Big Picture, as well as the Academy schools at Old Cockrill, Opry Mills and Hickory Hollow, there are choices to fit every student’s needs.”
There are 24 high school options in Metro Schools, and nearly all of them are open for application to any student in the county entering grades nine through 12. The Optional Schools Application period opens Monday, Nov. 3, and every student will be able to choose the school that offers his or her best chance for success.
“Every student is different. They all have different interests, needs and styles of learning,” said Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele. “Our high school options give every student an individual path to graduation. That’s one of the biggest reasons why there has been such an enormous increase in the graduation rate. When students are more connected to what they are learning and are empowered to make their own decisions about learning, they can find their path and see it through to graduation.”
While district officials are proud of the increase in the graduation rate, they recognize it is still behind the national average and well below where it needs to be.
Steele said, “We continue making improvements to our high schools. The Middle Preps are working hard to keep students on track and focused during the key middle school years. The StrIDe program with MTA now makes it possible for high school students to have more transportation access to optional schools. As a district we are intensely focused on serving the whole child and giving all students the best chance for success at every level. All of these and many more strategies added together can lead to even bigger gains in the graduation rate. Now it’s up to us to keep working hard and make sure that happens.”
Six Hunters Lane High School band members received the surprise of their lives Thursday.
The event was a team building session for engineers from the Siemens Corporation. Many traveled in from all over the country. The kids were assigned one team and using beans, cups, and drumsticks they had to create a jingle (with the help of three professional songwriters).
The six students were selected by their band teacher Mr. William Brooks for their overall leadership and citizenship. They took part in an contest with a grand prize of a musical instrument of their very own. They were told one of them would win. Boy, were they surprised.
“This was a ruse,” explained Hunters Lane Principal Dr. Susan Kessler. “All kids were going to leave there with an instrument, and Mr. Brooks and I kept that secret for weeks!” Turns out Dr. Kessler and Mr. Brooks were in for a big, big surprise of their own…
The Siemens engineers were each hoping “their student” would win.
Each group performed their jingle and a winning group received toy medals. After showing the promo video of the kids, they called them all on stage. One student was awarded an instrument.
A minute later they were all surprised when the executives walked in with a brand new instrument for each of them! They also surprised Mr. Brooks with a teaching trumpet for him to use.
WATCH IT UNFOLD -> https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=387413121415371
(Not very steady as Dr. Kessler was shooting photos as well!)
Then the unbelievable happened.
One couple walked up and said they were writing a check for $1,000 for the band because of Mr. Brooks’ work. Then all of the Siemens Executives in attendance reached into their wallets and started handing Dr. Kessler money: $100’s, $50’s, and $20’s. Dr. Kessler left with the check, a promise of another $500 check and more than $600 in cash. When Dr. Kessler got home, she received an e-mail that they collected another $460 to deliver later on.
“I felt stressed because this is not how we do donations,” explains Dr. Kessler, “I didn’t have donation letters or anything indicating who these people were. Those people believed so strongly that they were compelled to hand us cash for help.” All together the band earned more than $6,500 in donations and instruments.
How meaningful are these gifts? Very. Two of the six students have experienced personal tragedy. One wrote about how her clarinet was repossessed by a pawn shop. Another promised to sleep with the instrument if she won it because she has never had something new of value.
But their wild ride STILL wasn’t over.
Dr. Kessler, Mr. Brooks and the students were loaded back into a limo and returned to the school in style. Everyone was grateful and in complete shock of the generosity. “I attended the event partly because I was worried it was ‘too good to be true’,” said Dr. Kessler. “Instead, I ended up getting to be the privileged witness of a life changing day for kids. It was one of those moments that makes this job worthwhile!”
Thanks to Mr. Brooks and Dr. Kessler for making a difference and changing lives!
Want to help Hunters Lane High School Band yourself?
Just LIKE their video on Instagram to help them win WKRN News 2’s “March to the Top” Contest! The marching bands with the most likes on Instagram for the FINAL week will win $2,000 for 1st place, $1,000 for 2nd place and $500 for 3rd place! Voting ends Thursday, November 6th at 3pm.
GOOD LUCK HUNTERS LANE!
HERE’S THE VIDEO TO LIKE ON INSTAGRAM!
The “Day of the Dead” is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world. East Nashville Magnet High School Art and Spanish teachers have been working on a PBL project about the Day of the Dead. They will be having a public reception in the East Nashville Magnet High School library on Monday, November 3 from 6-7 pm.
“Dia de los muertos (Day of the dead) is principally celebrated in Mexico, but also throughout Latin America. The holiday is similar to our own Memorial day but takes on the cultural perspective of celebrating the lives of our deceased loved ones by remembering them with their favorite food, tokens and memorials,” says Mary Kroeger, Department Chair of World Languages at East Nashville Magnet.
“By reminiscing, it is almost as if they are still with us and will never be forgotten. The holiday binds families together, allowing us to focus on the value of personal relationships and their impact or legacy on a greater community. The holiday is religious in origin and coincides with the Catholic feast days of All Saints and All Souls days, celebrated on November 1 and 2. The festivities may take place publicly in a cemetery or privately in a person’s home. Personalized Calaveras (skeletons), marigold flowers, candles and favorite items are included in ornate shrines.”
Students have been decorating the library with art work from the classes and will have an interactive wall of remembrance inviting guests to leave notes for those who have passed.
Michelle Bennett is the Art Teacher at East Nashville Magnet. She has had several art projects that students have been working on as they grow closer to the event. Check out these orientate masks 10th and 11th grade students made in her drawing class!
“I’m looking forward to tasting the traditional ‘Day of the Dead Bread’!”
If you go…
“Day of the Dead” Reception
Monday, November 3, 6-7pm
East Nashville Magnet High School Library
110 Gallatin Ave, Nashville
by Mark North, president of The Fans, Inc
When the End Comes…Taking it to the Next Level
The end of a student-athlete’s high school career arrives like a thief in the night. Whether the end comes with a sudden injury, the end of the regular season, a playoff loss, or a championship, the finality hangs over the field like a fog.
The North Sports Report attended Hume-Fogg’s state tournament soccer game yesterday, will attend a football finale tonight, will attend the state cross-country championship on Saturday, and heard news of East Nashville star quarterback Isiah Upton’s season ending injury and pondered that the end should never overshadow the journey. If you follow the old coach’s cliché and play every play like it is your last, the mark you leave is indelible no matter the ending. In life, the alternative cliché might be “treat everyone like it’s the last time you will see them before they give a reference at your job interview or speak at your funeral.”
Today, I attended the memorial service for Ronald Webb, the longtime teacher, coach and Principal who passed away this week at the age of 87. Mr. Webb started his career at Litton High School and became the first football coach for Stratford High when it opened. He later served as Principal of Wright Middle School and spent nearly thirty years as the Principal of McMurray Middle. The message was delivered eloquently by one of Mr. Webb’s former students at Stratford who also served on his faculty at McMurray. Brenda Haywood arrived at Stratford during a turbulent time. On the first day, as the first African-American student at Stratford, she was pelted with insults and rocks as she made her way to school. Upon entering the school, she encountered Mr. Webb for the first time standing like a guardian angel as if to say, “Be not afraid.” His care, concern and love for her, like that for all his students, lasted the rest of his life.
Thoughts and prayers to Mr. Webb’s family and gratitude to Mr. Webb for the love and support he showed his students and Nashville’s public schools.
Alumni Alert: NFL Veteran Picked up by Dallas Cowboys
Glencliff Colts alumnus Tim Dobbins is a 10 year NFL veteran and recently joined the Dallas Cowboys. Congratulations!
Cross-Country State Championship on Saturday
The state championship cross-country meet begins at 10:00am on Saturday November 1 at the Steeplechase Course. MNPS student-athletes and teams will be in the running for multiple championships.
Another State Tourney Run
Congratulations to Coach Tracey McClain and the Hume-Fogg girls soccer team for a great season and appearance in the state tournament. Hume-Fogg fell 1-0 in a tight, hard-fought quarterfinal match.
Trick or Treat! Games this week are played Thursday and Friday including some big games with playoff implications.
- Hillsboro Burros extended their unbeaten streak as they beat Hunters Lane Warriors (33-0) on the road Thursday
- Maplewood Panthers lost to the Pearl-Cohn Firebirds (20-35) on the road Thursday in a huge district game where both teams were looking to improve their playoff positions
- McGavock Raiders hosted the Cane Ridge Ravens Thursday in a huge showdown of married Principals (and 70-14 rout by the Raiders) #WallBowl
- Hillwood Hilltoppers hosted Glencliff Colts in a 20-6 loss Thursday
- Overton Bobcats travel to Antioch Bears in a throwback rivalry renewal.
- A big community celebration is planned on Friday at Stratford as the Spartans host Whites Creek Cobras;
- East Nashville Eagles play at Lipscomb for the district championship on Friday.
The MNPS home games Thursday are at Hunters Lane; at Pearl-Cohn; at Antioch; at McGavock and at Hillwood. On Friday the MNPS home game is at Stratford. Go to a game!
MNPS: The First Choice for Inspirational Leaders
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve been working hard on launching the new Metro Schools websites. This is not just the district home page or a few programs. Every school is getting a new digital home.
This is no doubt welcome news to many, many, many of you out there.
FRIDAY we turn the switch on the new MNPS.org. We’ve been working for months to migrate thousands of pages ,and our work is still not complete.
The front end will look a little different, but it’s whats under the hood where it counts.
The sites are designed to be…
- Mobile Phone Friendly
We know 47% of you use your phones to check in with us!
- Customized for Parents, Staff, & Facility
This feature will be activated soon to allow schools a direct line of communication between schools and families. When you visit your school site, the content you see will be customized for your child and your classes. Parent involvement is critical and we are working to provide a simple, single point of access to all of the information students and families need.
Starting tomorrow, MNPS.org and a handful of school sites will begin sporting the new look. In the weeks to come, more schools will come online.
None of this would be possible without the hard work of dozens of people in the Communications Department, IT, Learning Technology and – of course – the teachers and school staff who keep school websites up to date. Thank you!