New principal named for Neely’s Bend Middle Prep

Michelle Brock-Demps to lead Neely’s Bend through the transition to a charter school

Neely’s Bend Middle Prep will have a new principal as it begins the transition into a LEAD charter school under the state’s Achievement School District (ASD). Michelle Brock-Demps, currently principal at Madison Middle School, will lead the MNPS-operated grades at Neely’s Bend starting next school year.

Brock-Demps has experience in school turnaround, having been trained in the New Leaders for New Schools national program for aspiring school administrators in Memphis. She has also facilitated federal school turnaround grants for high-need Metro schools.

“Michelle is trained in turnaround strategies, and we look forward to seeing what she can do for Neely’s Bend during this transitional time,” said Metro Schools’ Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele. “This is a good school for her skillset because Neely’s Bend will need a strong turnaround plan in the upper grades and also Michelle’s collaboration skills for the transition to a LEAD charter.”

Brock-Demps is a 15-year veteran of education. Her career began as an English Teacher at Wright Middle School and later moved to Whites Creek High School. There, she served as Whites Creek’s first AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Coordinator and Teacher, which is an academic program that prepares students for college.

Brock-Demps is a graduate of Whites Creek High School. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tennessee State University, and is currently working toward a doctorate from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Metro Schools will be open Friday, February 27

All Metro Schools will be open tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 27, for a regular school day.

School buses will run all routes, though a few roads may still be unsafe for travel because of remaining ice. Bus drivers are asked to use their own discretion and avoid roads that could be unsafe.

Families with questions about where buses will not be able to travel in the morning should call the Customer Service Center at 259-INFO (4636). Representatives will have up to date information on roads starting Friday morning.

This school year includes five built-in inclement weather days, and so far the district has used eight. The extra days will be made up March 18-20, as planned for in the district calendar. These days were originally scheduled for intersession. Other potential make-up days, should they be needed, are May 28-29.

 

Belmont University expands life changing program, gives 34 full rides to Metro students

Belmont University announced today that the Bridges to Belmont full scholarship program would be expanded from 30 students entering in fall 2014 to 34 students for fall 2015. The 34 scholarship recipients from four Metro Nashville high schools—Maplewood, Stratford, Whites Creek and Pearl Cohn—were informed of their scholarship offers earlier this month following an extensive application and interview process.

Bridges to Belmont reflects a deliberate step on the part of Belmont’s administration to enhance the University’s cultural and ethnic diversity while also continuing efforts to provide higher education to students in Davidson County. Bridges to Belmont Scholars, many of whom are first-generation college students, each are awarded a full four-year scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, required fees and books (from state and federal grants as well as Belmont scholarship funds.) Throughout their higher education experience, they also are given academic support and peer mentors.

WATCH: Students at Stratford STEM Magnet High School are surprised with the wonderful news!

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “The Bridges program clearly reflects Belmont’s mission to provide a transformative education to men and women of diverse backgrounds, but it also demonstrates our commitment to serve our city. Nashville gives so much to Belmont – this is our chance to give back by investing in these high-potential young people from our community.”

“At a time when there are so many opportunities for first-time college students in Tennessee, Belmont is once again leading the pack,” said Metro’s Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Bridges to Belmont is giving students an opportunity like no other, and we are so thrilled to continue this partnership. The millions of dollars and enormous support they have given to Metro students is life-changing. We thank them for their commitment.”

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Bridges to Belmont Director Mary Clark and Program Assistant Nadi Bishop oversee the program and arrange for supplemental instruction, organizational support, tutor training and mentoring. The Bridges scholars’ education begins with the Summer Academy, during which students take three general education courses in an extended format—First Year Seminar, First Year Writing and Math 1020—as well as a course in leadership skills and academic development. They also complete three community service projects at Nashville-area nonprofit organizations as well as attend an academic lecture convocation and a chapel program designed to introduce them to Belmont campus life.

Clark said, “Our Bridges Scholars have immersed themselves in campus life, including being active in academic-based organizations, extracurricular opportunities and student worker positions across the University. We have instituted new programs to not only support the Scholars but to expose them and the entire campus community to diverse individuals through the Speaking on Success speaker series and a Scholar to Professional mentoring program, among other initiatives.”

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Launched in March 2013, Bridges to Belmont is designed to enroll high potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools who may not have previously been able to consider Belmont as an option. The first Bridges to Belmont cohort of 26 students entered in fall 2013, and a second class of 30 students began last fall. With the addition of 34 new Bridges Scholars in fall 2015, the program reflects a potential total four-year investment (from both external and Belmont financial aid resources) in Nashville students exceeding $13.6 million.

Ranked No. 5 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the seventh consecutive year as one of the top “Up-and-Comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 7,300 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs. With more than 80 areas of undergraduate study, 22 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual’s horizon. For more information, visit www.belmont.edu.

Metro Schools principals are taking control of their school budgets

Starting next year, half of the Metro Schools operating budget – more than $400 million – will be directly under the control of school principals. They will decide how that money can best be spent to benefit their students, choosing everything from staffing to instructional strategies and what extra support services to offer.

It’s the completion of a plan that’s been phased over the last two years, and it gives principals the power to design how their schools operate and how they teach children. It’s called student-based budgeting, and it is exactly what it sounds like: schools’ budgets are based on the students they serve and those students’ needs, not district regulations and mandates.

Student-based budgeting is a pretty big change from the way school funding is traditionally done. As the district moves forward with this, these are the six things you need to know about it.


1. It’s all about the students.

Schools will be funded according to a formula that’s based on the students who are in the building. That doesn’t just mean the number of students, but also the characteristics of those students.

The amount of money each school gets is based on individual student needs. Schools will get a base amount of money in their budgets for each student served, and that amount will go up depending on certain factors like exceptional education needs, English Learner status, prior academic performance and more. This brings greater equity to school budgeting because funding is the same for similar students no matter where they go to school.

2. Principals have the power.

Principals need the ability to make decisions based on their professional expertise and knowledge of their own students. With student-based budgeting, principals are empowered to design their schools. They will be encouraged to try innovative practices and make whatever decisions are necessary to build schools that deliver instruction tailored just for their students.

For example, if a principal feels like his or her students need an extra school counselor, he or she can build that into the school budget. The same is true if the school needs and intensive ACT prep program or more English Learner teachers. It’s all up to the school leader.

When school design decisions are made closer to the students and not handed down from central office, instruction can be more personalized to student needs.

Robbin Wall

3. It means more money for English Learners and others.

Metro Schools intends to dramatically increase direct spending on English Learners. EL status is a significant predictor of academic success, and EL students need greater supports in the classroom.

To give schools the flexibility to better serve their EL students, they will get more money for each EL student they serve. The same will happen for students with disabilities and students who have struggled academically.

4. It will give greater support to struggling students – no matter where they go to school.

Prior academic performance is by far the greatest predictor of future academic success, so students who are behind academically will be funded at a higher level. So that schools can get these students back on track early, even more funding will be given to elementary and middle schools for each struggling student they serve.

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5. It could mean more money for many schools.

Right now, some Metro schools are funded at much higher levels than others with similar needs. This happens for a lot of reasons, including special status like enhanced option schools. Because student-based budgeting allocates money according to students and not other factors, it will bring equity to school budgets by funding similar schools at similar levels.

This could mean some schools will see greater funding next year, though that would require an increase in the district operating budget. But the results will be worth it: more equitable funding to serve students with similar needs.

6. Intentionally small and other specialty schools will be funded sustainably.

Not every school will be a part of the program. Schools that are intentionally small or operate specialty programs – like the Academy at Old Cockrill, MNPS Virtual School, alternative learning centers and others – will have some flexibility over budgeting, but must be funded in a different way to ensure they are viable and able to operate.

Also, principals will have direct control over a large portion of their school budgets, but not everything. Services like transportation, maintenance, human capital, and others will still be provided centrally.


You may be wondering: where did this idea come from? The district’s strategic plan, Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student, sets forth a vision for every Metro school to create personalized learning environments. Meeting individual students’ needs through tailored instruction looks different at every school. The strategic plan specifically states that schools should create personalized learning environments “influenced and determined by their school’s unique identity, context and capacity.”

Creating personalized learning environments requires an equitable distribution of resources to meet individual student needs and meaningful flexibility to allow principals to tailor their learning environment. Student-based budgeting makes this possible.

It is a popular program nationwide. New York City, Denver, Boston, San Francisco and several other major American cities already do it. It’s easy to see why. Student-based budgeting just makes sense. School leaders know their students and what they need better than anyone else. If principals are to be held accountable for the results of their school, they should be the ones making the school design decisions.

Read more about student-based budgeting in this fact sheet.

Metro Schools will be open tomorrow, Feb. 25

All Metro Schools will be open tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 25, for a regular school day. All after school activities will be canceled in anticipation of more winter weather expected in the afternoon and evening.

School buses will run all routes, though there are still some roads that are impassable because of ice and snow. Bus drivers are asked to use their own discretion and avoid roads that could be unsafe.

Families with questions about where buses will not be able to travel should call the Customer Service Center at 259-INFO (4636).

This school year includes five built-in inclement weather days, and so far the district has used seven. The extra days will be made up March 18-19, as planned for in the district calendar. These days were originally scheduled for intersession. Other potential make-up days, should they be needed, are March 20 and May 28-29.

 

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