Come to RESET Saturday and contribute to the future of public education in Nashville

RESET Saturday is May 30, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Rocketown (located at 601 Fourth Ave. South – downtown on Rutledge Hill). The event is free, open to the public and very family-friendly.

Project RESETEducation is an issue all of Nashville needs to face – parents, educators, neighborhood leaders, faith leaders, nonprofit leaders, business and civic leaders, politicians and more. 

There has never been a better time to have open discussions about education. In a matter of weeks, voters will elect a new Mayor and Metro Council. The school board has already started its process to select a new Director of Schools.

The idea behind Project RESET is simple – elevate the conversation around public education – get away from the mud-slinging and galvanize the community behind a set of bold priorities that would do more than incrementally improve things but, instead, seriously pick up the pace of improvement.

That starts with RESET Saturday – one day when everyone puts their mind and their muscle to having a larger conversation with a larger array of voices about what we can do to speed up improvement.

The effort was launched by the Nashville Public Education Foundation in partnership with many community organizations and individuals. The name says it all – RESET stands for “Reimagining Education Starts with Everyone at the Table.”

Experts from across the country will be present at RESET Saturday to share what has worked in their respective cities. And there will be loads of interactive stations where you can weigh in with your ideas. There will even be free books for kids, a puppet truck, free food and more.

More information is available at You can register here.

Saluting Excellence: The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt Class of 2015

The 2015 class of SSMV, with Virginia Shepherd, director of the Center for Science Outreach and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt, at center. (Vanderbilt)

The 2015 class of SSMV, with Virginia Shepherd, director of the Center for Science Outreach and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt, at center. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt)

Graduation season is almost done, and there’s one ceremony that happened two weeks ago you might not know about. But you definitely should.

On May 9, the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) held its fifth commencement exercises. Together with their families, friends and community members, 23 graduates from four Metro Schools celebrated completion of the four-year honors program – one of the top high school science and math programs in the country.

Dr. Sharon Gentry, chair of the Metro Nashville Board of Education, was a distinguished guest and speaker. Dr. Jesse Register, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, gave the commencement address.

These students are all headed to college this fall. Just take a look at this impressive list of graduates and their intended colleges: 

  • Fenan D. Debesai, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Davidson College
  • Kelsey G. Driscoll, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Claremont McKenna College
  • Catherine Elizabeth English, Overton High School, Vanderbilt University
  • Valeria A. Garcia Lopez, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Centre College
  • Evan B. Gordon, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Reed College
  • Varik Sevion Harris, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Reed College
  • Mayra Garitzia Hernandez, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Brigham Young University-Provo
  • Nhung Tuyet Thi Hoang, Overton High School, Swarthmore College
  • Isaac Ige, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Andriana D’an Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Alex Steven Jolly, Hillsboro High School, Vanderbilt University
  • Elizabeth MacPherson, Hillsboro High School, Loyola University, New Orleans
  • Arturas Malinauskas, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Northwestern University
  • Xena E. McDonald, Overton High School, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Maylan Daniel Mehus, Overton High School, Haverford College
  • Dheeraj S. Namburu, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Brown University
  • Susannah E. Price, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Samuel A. Rafter, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Northeastern University
  • Efrain I. Salazar, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Able Shi, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Camron M. Shirkhodaie, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet, Vanderbilt University
  • Cochran Gray Tettleton, Hume-Fogg Magnet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Yae Eun Yang, Hume-Fogg Magnet, Johns Hopkins University

The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is a joint venture between Vanderbilt University and Metro Schools. The SSMV offers high school students a four-year, interdisciplinary, research-centered learning experience at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, where internationally recognized faculty are leading the way in diverse fields of scientific study.

The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is supported in part by a National Institutes of Health NCRR Science Education Partnership Award, by Vanderbilt University and by Metro Schools.

Taking the social and emotional learning push to Washington, D.C.

Metro Schools' Director of Social and Emotional Learning Kyla Krengel

Metro Schools’ Director of Social and Emotional Learning Kyla Krengel

This week, Metro Schools’s director of social and emotional learning (SEL) Kyla Krengel joined Committee for Children and other SEL experts from all over the country on Capitol Hill to advocate for the inclusion of SEL in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Krengel met with Senators Alexander and Corker and asked for their support of an amendment to ESEA that would define SEL and allow funding for teacher and principal training to be used for SEL programming. She also asked them to support a committee report that accompanies the ESEA bill to mention the importance of SEL.

Scientific research shows that getting the best outcomes for students requires building nonacademic skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making—all of which SEL encompasses. These skills are teachable, promote healthy behaviors and help students in school, the workplace and life.

Metro Schools has made SEL a top priority, even baking it into the five-year strategic plan, Education 2018. Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register recently won a national award for his leadership in SEL, and the district as a whole is part of a nationwide collective of urban districts committed to expanding and improving SEL strategies.

Kyla Krengel with her fellow SEL experts

Kyla Krengel with her fellow SEL experts

Krengel was joined by SEL advocates from Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. In addition to meeting with their own Senators, Kyla and other attendees met with key members of both the House and Senate Education Committees. On the heels of the unanimous, bipartisan support for an ESEA reauthorization in the Senate HELP committee, the team is hoping their trip makes a big difference when the full Senate debates the bill in June.

Next month, Metro Schools and Alignment Nashville will host the fifth annual SEL Conference. This event brings together hundreds of educators, community members and non-profit partners to discuss the latest strategies and issues around SEL.

This year’s keynote speaker is San Francisco State University professor Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Ph.D. Dr. Duncan-Andrade has lectured around the world about the elements of effective, SEL-focused teaching in schools serving under-resourced areas and children impacted by trauma. His TED talk, titled “Growing Roses in Concrete,” is a viral sensation among educators.

Registration for the conference is now open on the Alignment Nashville website.

2015 Social and Emotional Learning Conference
Friday, June 19, 2015
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cane Ridge High School

Why social and emotional learning is a vital part of academics in Metro Schools

by Kyla Krengel, Director of Social and Emotional Learning in Metro Schools

In Metro Schools we are working hard to create engaging, safe and close-knit learning communities for students and adults. Our district’s commitment to social and emotional learning (SEL) has been an anchor for our vision to create positive learning environments in all of our elementary, middle and high schools. The district’s current strategic plan, Education 2018, sets SEL on equal footing with academics. We know that in order for students to succeed academically, they must succeed socially and emotionally.

We cannot assume that students come to school with all of the social and emotional tools they need to be successful in school, career and life. We recognize that creating the conditions for engaged learning and explicitly teaching SEL skills throughout the school day is important work.

For students to engage meaningfully in academic work, they need critical SEL skills like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. When a school environment doesn’t feel physically or emotionally safe, learning suffers. Students in Metro Schools engage in practices like Morning Meeting, Community Gatherings, Advisory and other restorative circle practices to get to know themselves and others and to build a safe environment for learning and being in community.

Skills learned in these SEL-rich practices provide tools that carry over to every area of learning. For example, a kindergarten child may learn the art and craft of sharing and responding respectfully to classmates’ questions in Morning Meeting, and then later in the day use these same skills to engage in rich academic discussions as they share text-to-self connections and wonderings during a class read-aloud. 

In middle school, students may learn how to disagree respectfully during a Community Gathering game of “Taking Sides,” and then later in the day use these same skills to predict how two elements will interact during a science experiment. In high school advisory, students may share a time when they’ve felt unsafe or different. Then, later in the day, reconnect with these feelings as they explore issues of intolerance and bias in a Civil Rights unit.

It’s hard to overlook the significant role that social and emotional learning plays in the life of schools. Whether cooperating and collaborating with a group to solve a challenging math problem or empathizing with another person’s point of view during a social studies discussion or using self-calming strategies to focus and persist when faced with challenging academic work, we need social and emotional skills at every turn- students and adults. 

What does it look like and sound like when a school is fully integrating quality SEL alongside academics? There is a tone and culture of joyful engagement with learning, where students have voice and choice and are engaged in collaborative, meaningful and appropriately challenging academic work. Teachers take time to build the classroom community and value student voice, and students take an active role in managing the classroom environment. Social and emotional learning provides the tools that students need to feel safe and connected at school, whether in the cafeteria or in the biology lab.

Want to add some tools to your SEL toolbox? Consider attending this year’s SEL Conference on June 19 at Cane Ridge High School. Sessions range from Mindfulness to Trauma-informed Practices to creating positive adult learning communities. The conference, hosted by Metro Schools and Alignment Nashville waive registration fees for Metro educators. 


North Sports Report – Sports are great. Scholarships are better.

by Mark North, president of The Fans, Inc

Big Sports Week…and Graduations

Don the cap and gown, cue the Pomp and Circumstance march, grab the tissue… the culmination of years of hard, sometimes tedious, work receives its reward. They’ve been at this school thing since they were four or five years old, and now their grown and ready to cross that stage and flip that tassel. Graduation gets first billing: everything else is part of the journey. As important as sports can be to a student (and it might be the best dropout prevention program ever devised), the diploma dash – down the aisle and across the stage – will always be the most important run of the season. Congratulations to all the graduates!

That being said…let’s talk sports.

World Cup has Nothing on this One

The Middle School Soccer City Championship might go down in history as the most riveting match in MNPS history with McMurray edging Croft in a penalty kick shootout. The soccer world will talk about this one for years.

Spring Fling – State Track Meet, May 18-22

The state track meet is a spectacle to behold! MNPS athletes competing with the best the rest of the state has to offer. Check out the schedule at and head to Murfreesboro to check out the action. MNPS has several teams that will be in the hunt (some might say favored) to win the state championship. Athletes to watch:

  • Hillsboro’s Janel Pate is the top sprinter in the state
  • Hume-Fogg’s Ben Brunson is the defending Decathlon champion and the state’s top qualifier

In the A-AA Pentathlon, the top four qualifiers in the state are all MNPS student-athletes:

  • Grenetria Shell, East Nashville (3,294 points);
  • Kayla Guthrie, Whites Creek (2,723 points);
  • Darreon Sawyers, MLK (2,648 points); and
  • Micquana Webster, East Nashville (2,617 points)

And many more…

Track: Middle School City Championship

The North Sports Report spent the evening at Cane Ridge High School for the City Championship Track Meet. The place was packed with fans, and these athletes are truly spectacular. Last week, I compared the middle school track athletes to comic book super heroes. This week – photographic proof. The Flash (or is it East Nashville’s Jashon Watkins?) is a blur as he makes the turn in the 200m.


The Flash

Congratulations to all the student-athletes and coaches!

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Soccer: Middle School City Championship

McMurray and Croft will take to the pitch for the Soccer Middle School City Championship on Friday at Croft. The pool of great Boys Soccer teams in MNPS high school continues to grow deeper, (see the success of Stratford, Glencliff, Antioch, MLK, Overton, Hume-Fogg and others), and the same is true at the Middle School level. Check out this game Friday afternoon. You will be amazed!


Celebrate! with Stratford STEM soccer


Scholarships in the Community

Stratford football and basketball player Chazz Simpson and Pearl-Cohn track athlete George Johnson were awarded a total of $3,000 in scholarships this week from the Madison Kiwanis Club. Chazz will attend Western Kentucky University and George will attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The scholarships are based on academics, character and service to the community. Congratulations!

MNPS: The First Choice for College and Career Ready Graduates


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