Well, the folks up at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have outdone themselves with a very generous donation of 3,800 computers. That’s enough computers for two high schools or 10 percent of our elementary school population. It really makes a difference for our families who may not have access to technology at home.
This comes on the heels of a major announcement from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which sponsored a digital inclusion initiative and managed the project with several community partners to coordinate refurbishing, imaging and handing out the computers to economically disadvantaged families from 18 Metro Schools.
The Community Foundation says there are about 54,600 Davidson County homes and about 44 percent of MNPS families who lack Internet access.
What a way to make a dent in that number, Vanderbilt! Thanks again!
Read more about VUMC’s donation here.
Our schools are inviting you to visit!
You can’t just go on what you’ve heard. It’s time to see for yourself! Mark your calendars for a special series of tours available district-wide beginning next week.
Taking a peek at your local neighborhood school or a school you may have heard about can help you make a decision on which school is the right fit for your family.
As part of Walk-Through Tuesdays, every Metro school will host tours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. You can visit classrooms, talk to teachers, principals and staff to get a feel for what is going on.
Here are three things to do when you visit a school:
During your visit, take note of first impressions and how parents are received. How are the classrooms set up? What are interactions like between students and teachers? What does the library have? How is technology integrated? Looking at big questions like these is an important step.
Be sure to ask questions — as many as you like!
To get you started, here are 5 things to ask:
- What are the special academic programs and offerings at this school?
- What extra curricular activities are available?
- Are there any special parts of the physical building like open spaces or themed areas?
- How does this school approach student discipline or behavioral issues?
- What support programs are available for special learning needs?
Pick up brochures, newsletters, policies, sample learning materials and handouts to understand the what is happening in the classrooms and how you as a parent can get involved in the school.
As Metro Schools opens its doors on Walk-Through Tuesdays, don’t forget you can also check out some of our high school tours online:
Here are some other useful links:
For questions about school tours, call 615-259-INFO (4636) or contact the school directly.
Okay, parents. We know what you’re thinking. Your young one isn’t so young anymore, and – GULP – it’s time to start thinking about high school.
The Academies of Nashville enable students to learn through the lens of an academic theme in a personalized learning community. Through their Academy, students can prepare for life after graduation by getting college ready and exploring possible career fields. They are exposed to a multitude of college opportunities, industry skills and potential employers by way of classroom speakers, site visits, job shadowing and internships.
Learn all about the Academies of Nashville in 5 minutes.
The Academies offer:
- Personalized learning environments for all students
- Engaging curriculum and instruction
- Advanced academics
- Preparation for college and high demand careers
- Parent and community involvement
- Practical work experience such as job shadowing and internships
- Opportunities for online courses, early college credit and professional certifications during high school
- Project-based learning across subjects
Several Academies have even been designated as National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) Model Academies.
Selecting the right high school is an important step for students and families in Nashville. More options are available than ever before, and the Optional Schools Application gives every family the ability to choose.
Eighth Grade Choice Day is Thursday, November 5.
On this day, all eighth graders can make a choice of where they want to attend high school based on their individual interests.
But before you make a decision, visit the schools that interest you. Seeing schools in person is the single best way to make sure it is the right decision for your family.
Academy Showcases provide an opportunity to experience the school environment, learn more about the academic programs and talk with teachers, principals and current students.
For more information about the showcase or the application process for eighth graders entering high school, visit MNPS.org or call 615-259-INFO (4636). Even if you miss a showcase that interests you, call the school and ask to schedule a visit.
Development and expansion of new pre-K program continues with help from Vanderbilt research team
Starting this month, the high-quality, play-based curriculum guiding instruction in Metro Schools’ three Early Learning Centers is being expanded district-wide to 174 prekindergarten classrooms located in over 60 schools.
The latest research from Vanderbilt University on statewide prekindergarten offerings reiterates the need to provide consistent, high-quality curriculum and build upon the benefits of pre-K in early elementary grades. Metro Schools has proactively taken on that challenge and is building a high-quality pre-K program in Nashville that is unique in Tennessee and can help improve early learning practices district-, state- and nationwide.
The three Early Learning Centers that opened in the district last year are designed to be models for a brand new pre-K program based on research and the specific needs of young children. The expansion of Creative Curriculum – which offers a style of teaching based on structured play instead of large group instruction – is the first major step in a series of initiatives being funded by a federal pre-K grant that will improve the quality and consistency of pre-K instruction citywide. The grant gives the district $8 million in year one, with the possibility of another $25 million over the next three years.
The three primary goals of the federal pre-K grant are:
- Expand pre-K seats so more families have access
- Improve pre-K programming so it makes a longer lasting impact on student achievement
- Unify early childhood learning citywide – among public and private providers – so every child in Nashville can have a consistent experience and be prepared for elementary school
“Winning the grant was a game changer for early childhood education in Nashville, and we already had a big head start,” said Dana Eckman, director of Early Learning Innovation. “Thanks to a local investment from the Metro Council and the Mayor’s Office, Metro Schools was perfectly positioned to carry out an ambitious plan to rebuild pre-K. And thanks to a partnership with the team at Vanderbilt University, we have access to the very latest research to help shape what we’re doing in real-time.”
“We should all be proud of the investment we’ve made in high-quality prekindergarten and hopeful for the future of early childhood education in Nashville,” said Nashville Mayor Megan Barry. “As I’ve toured our early learning centers and spoken with our pre-K teachers, I have been incredibly impressed with their dedication and professionalism. Metro Schools is blazing a new path in pre-K that is building a foundation in learning that we can and should be building on in elementary school and beyond.”
In order to judge the effectiveness of this program as it develops, the Vanderbilt team is conducting a separate research project just about Nashville’s pre-K development. They are in the Early Learning Centers, speaking with teachers, observing and assessing students so the program can continue to evolve with the very latest and best expert feedback.
“We have been working in a collaborative partnership with the Metro Schools Early Learning Centers since they opened in 2014,” said Dale Farran, co-investigator of the Vanderbilt pre-K study. “Our goal is to assist them as they develop a vision for what an effective and positive pre-K experience should be. We provide real time extensive feedback to the teachers and coaches about the interactions and instructional quality of the classrooms. Teachers and coaches use those data to create goals for better practices. Our work from last year identified eight areas of practice that we showed were linked to higher gains for the children. Those eight areas are the focus for coaching and professional development this year. We are pleased that MNPS is taking its pre-K program so seriously and seeking to create a genuine evidence-based set of practices that will support the development of many young children.”
The new research from Vanderbilt on Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program shows that once students leave statewide pre-K classrooms, many of them begin to slip academically in later grades. By the time they reach third grade, many have fallen behind their peers who did not attend pre-K. To combat this elementary school slide on the local level, the district is putting a strong emphasis on early grade alignment, meaning that kindergarten, first, second and third grade will be built to support the instruction and style of learning students experienced in pre-K. Going further, there will be greater collaboration between pre-K and elementary grade teams, with teacher professional development designed to build a continuum pre-K through fourth grade.
“If we’re giving four year olds developmentally appropriate instruction in pre-K, we need to make sure we continue that practice as children move through the other early grades,” said Eckman. “That means we’ll be doing more experiential learning, arts, music, movement, foreign languages and outdoor learning in elementary schools.”
Watch as the early learning experts at Vanderbilt talk about the importance of high-quality pre-K and how to take it to scale.
To help this effort, former elementary principal Robin Cayce has been tapped to join district leadership as the executive director of professional development for grades pre-K through four. She is building education programs for elementary teachers that will spread these best practices throughout the district.
Along with Cayce, the support team for pre-K has grown with the addition of federal funding. The pre-K office will soon have its own dedicated staff of a dozen family involvement specialists who can build community and social supports for children and families. They will also work to get families engaged in their children’s learning early on to build good habits that can carry through in later grades.
“As Chief Financial Officer, I was proud to advocate for expanded and improved pre-K. As Interim Director, I’m proud to continue to build this program,” said Chris Henson. “It is one of the smartest high-yield investments we can make in the future of this district. With a brand new, high-quality pre-K program, our students will be prepared for anything they face leading up to and after graduation.”
Parents and students can visit with more than 200 colleges and universities all in one place during our annual College Fair next Tuesday, September 22nd at Global Mall at the Crossings from 3:30 – 7:00 p.m. There you can learn more about admissions, financial aid, college life and opportunities for scholarships.
Parents can get more information and support for the college search at http://www.collegefortn.org.