“All-Star” teachers get the first laptops; thousands more to follow

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Dr. Jesse Register presented the first of more than 6,000 teacher laptops to five teachers at Lockeland Elementary. Jenny Martin, Julie Philips, Susan Evans, Jessica Tammaro, and Camille Spadafino all received laptops for completing All-Star Training.

In February, the district began the largest professional development endeavor in our history. Every teacher in the district is taking the All-Star Training. This program helps teachers master new learning technology that will improve instruction, as well as get a better understanding of the Common Core State Standards and how to administer PARCC assessments. When they complete this training, teachers receive laptops from the district.

This technology and training initiative is one of the district’s top budget priorities. It will help teachers personalize learning for every student, which is the key to the district’s five-year strategic plan, Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student.

The Metro Schools Learning Technology team that helped develop this plan is second to none in the United States. Dr. Kecia Ray, who leads the team, is the president of the International Society for Technology in Education and was recently named one of “20 to Watch in Education Technology” by the National School Boards Association.

Combined with the very best teaching, the learning technology plan will ensure Metro students get more instruction targeted to their specific needs and abilities.

North Sports Report – April 10, 2014

by Mark North, president of The Fans, Inc

Inspiration – The Historical Role of Athletics

Did you follow The Tennessean’s series on women’s basketball and great local athletes during the Women’s Final Four? Journalists Mike Organ (DuPont High grad) and Jessica Bliss captured the amazing history of women’s sports in Middle Tennessee. The articles list some of the most influential athletes in history, including MNPS legends Marynell Meadors (Hillsboro); Carolyn Aldridge (Glencliff); Joanne Arnold Tribue (Antioch); Pam Chambers (Madison); and Ann Hutcheson Price (Hillsboro).

Tuesday’s front page article explained how athletic competition inspires ambition and creates better leaders. Sports columnist Christine Brennan is quoted, noting that it is more than a game: “It’s about creating better people.” The host committee for the Final Four organized a session to utilize the lessons of athletics to help girls “develop a vision and voice, become an ethical leader, promote wellness and health and turn their vision into action.” The lessons translate from the basketball court to real life and help inspire a generation of girls who will make a difference.

Walter Fisher Sr. helped coach Hillsboro to a victory in this year's Retro Classic in his first trip to the historic Litton Gym since scoring 35 points as a star for the Pearl High Tigers.

Walter Fisher Sr. helped coach Hillsboro to a victory in this year’s Retro Classic in his first trip to the historic Litton Gym since scoring 35 points as a star for the Pearl High Tigers.

And, there’s no need to wait for a seminar or big event to see inspiration in action. This basketball season, the North Sports Report had the good fortune to visit briefly with Walter Fisher Sr., an assistant coach for the Hillsboro boys basketball team. Mr. Fisher started for the 1966 Pearl High School team that is generally considered the best in Nashville’s history.

Playing during the first year of integrated competition and making their first trip into gyms of all-white schools, Mr. Fisher and his Pearl High teammates were not always treated with courtesy and respect. “Before the game, the crowd would call us all sorts of names, and then we would start dunking and everything got real quiet. By the end of the game, they were patting us on the back and telling us how good we were.” Sometimes, playing the game makes a statement and teaches a lesson beyond what any classroom can convey.

In January of this year, the Pearl-Cohn basketball team donned throwback Pearl High uniforms, and Mr. Fisher met with the players prior to the game. “He told them what it means to wear a Pearl uniform,” Pearl-Cohn Coach Raymond Pratcher succinctly explained. That’s a lesson we all should learn.

Alumni Alert – Hunters Lane Alum: A Tradition Unlike Any Other

The Masters at Augusta National is the most prestigious and tradition-filled golf tournament in the world. For the fifth year, sportscaster Grant Boone, a member of the very first class at Hunters Lane, will be a part of the CBS coverage and will anchor the 11th through 13th holes, famously dubbed “Amen Corner.”

That’s right, Hunters Lane Warrior Grant Boone will provide TV commentary at the Masters. You can watch each group navigate Amen Corner live on the CBS Sports website.

Next time you see Grant, ask him to tell the story of how his golf coach at Madison High School, the legendary Bill Brimm, helped him get started in broadcasting.

April Showers Bring …Rain Delays

Occasionally, the weather will interrupt an otherwise splendid plan to enjoy high school spring sports, leaving the North Sports Report at the ball field just hanging around, nothing to do but frown … cue The Carpenter’s.

(Editor’s note: omit link to the Carpenter’s classic hit “Rainy Days and Mondays” – it’s too sad.)

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No worries, I’ll make it back for the make-up.

(Editor’s note: omit link to the hilarious HR Pufnstuf scene where every time someone says “make-up,” Pufnstuf hits Witchiepoo with a giant powder puff – it’s too weird.)

Alumni Alert – NFL Draft Day Coming for 2010 Maplewood Grad

So, the NFL Draft is less than a month away, and 2010 Maplewood scholar-athlete James Stone will be ready for the call. NFL.com says that one of his strengths is “intelligence.” In perusing the various analysts’ predictions and mock drafts, the North Sports Report noticed one that had him going to Jacksonville and another to Cincinnati. Are you listening, Tennessee Titans?

MNPS: The First Choice for Inspirational Leaders

Autism Awareness Month: Why It Matters

by Becky Brewster, Metro Schools Autism Teacher Consultant

Please join us for the 2nd Annual MNPS Autism Awareness Event, Friday, April 25th from 7:30am—10:30am at the Martin Professional Development Center located next to Eakin Elementary School.

With 1 in 68 births resulting in a diagnosis of Autism, it’s rare to run into someone who is unaffected by the disorder, either directly through their family or friend or close neighbor. Autism affects us as individuals and as a society.

In Metro Schools, there are more than 700 students diagnosed with Autism. The Autism Team’s goal is to bring awareness to Autism all year long through our various trainings and events. We believe every child deserves the best education possible, including children on the Autism Spectrum. We believe our Exceptional Education programs are child-centered and focused on positive outcomes. We believe we are all reaching for the same goal, to better the lives of the children we serve.

The Autism Team strives to bring the best possible training and the most current information to the educators on the front lines of serving our children. We are in a constant state of learning. Each time we share our knowledge, we start a ripple effect in the lives of the students we serve.

The MNPS Autism Team

Denise Rollins — Director of Exceptional Education
Ada Winford — Lead Teacher
Dr. Amber Music  — Senior Behavior Analyst
Becky Brewster — Teacher Consultant
Angela Vaughan — Teacher Consultant
Heather Melancon — Teacher Consultant
Gladys Henry — Speech Language Pathologist

Our hearts are wrapped around every child with Autism.

Take a look at these resources for families affected by autism:


Another International Baccalaureate leader at Hillsboro High School

Hillsboro is having a very good semester so far.

For the fourth time in less than a year, a Hillsboro High School teacher has reached a very high level of leadership in International Baccalaureate (IB).

Seth Swihart is an official IB examiner, which means he will assess IB student work from across the country. Mr. Swihart had to apply for this position and undergo a rigorous review process. Only the IB world headquarters in The Hague can bestow this honor. He will assess work in the History of the Americas course.

Three other educators at Hillsboro are also IB examiners, and Mr. Swihart’s appointment means there is now a third subject area in which Hillsboro IB teachers will receive outstanding professional learning experiences.


Overton EL students inspire their teacher’s children’s book

Littlest MonsterA little monster afraid of being different finds his way and friends who are different just like he is. It’s a cute story and even cuter children’s book, newly published by Overton High School theater teacher and choral director Gina Kelley.

The Littlest Monster” is for sale now, and while we don’t normally plug merchandise here on Children First, this one is exceptional. Mrs. Kelley teaches English learners at Overton, one of the most diverse schools in the city, and she says her students are the reason she wrote it.

“It was inspired by our English learner kids, all moving here and being terrified of being different from everyone else,” she said. “There are over forty languages spoken in the hallways, and hundreds of students who have relocated to the United States feeling very scared about being ‘different’.”

That’s reason enough to celebrate this teacher, mentor and now published children’s author. Way to go, Mrs. Kelley! And way to go Overton students!

It’s for sale on Mrs. Kelley’s website and on Amazon.com.



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