Country Music Artist Michael Ray joins StubHub to surprise Hunters Lane High School with $39,000 musical instrument donation


Pictured from left to right: Jesse Strong, 12th grade student at Hunters Lane, Narissa Spagner, 1th grade student at Hunters Lane, Country Music Artist Michael Ray, and Samantha Smith, 12th grade student, at Hunters Lane. Michael Ray surprised students with a performance as part of StubHub’s donation of musical instruments to the school on Monday, November 23. 


A donation of $39,000 in musical instruments was music to the ears of students, teachers and administrators at Hunters Lane High School on Monday, November 23 when they were surprised with a performance by country music artist Michael Ray.

In partnership with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, the donation is part of StubHub’s commitment to putting $1 million worth of instruments in public schools across America as part of its Next State Social Good Program.

Ray debuted on the charts with  #1 single “Kiss You in the Morning” earlier this year.

The gift marks StubHub’s second instrument donation to Hunters Lane High School, totaling 59 instruments with a retail value of more than $85,000. Over two years, StubHub has donated 119 instruments with a total retail value of over $130,000 to school programs in the Nashville area.

The Hunters Lane music program is part of the districtwide Music Makes Us initiative. A joint effort of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Mayor Megan Barry and music industry and community leaders, Music Makes Us aspires to be a national model for high-quality music education. With a focus on music literacy and student participation, Music Makes Us is strengthening traditional school music while adding a contemporary curriculum that embraces new technologies and reflects a diverse student population.

See the highlights of the presentation below:


McKissack Middle Prep selected for $10,000 Shape the State Grant


McKissack Middle Prep was awarded a $10,000 Shape the State Grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. The money goes directly to the school’s physical education program with equipment and items that help students stay active, according to McKissack Middle Prep’s Executive Principal Darren Kennedy.

Shape the State began in 2011 awarding 20 middle school physical education grants and has now grown to touch more than 1,300 schools in the state of Tennessee.

Learn more about the Shape the State grants on the foundation’s website.


NEWS ROUNDUP: GROW STEM | USDA Farm to School grant | Gifted and Talented educator honored … and more!

Catch all of the latest good news happening at Metro Schools in this week’s News Roundup.

Here’s what was trending:

USA Today: Top high school football playoff games: Round 2

News-Democrat LeaderMetro Schools receives $38K Farm to School Planning Grant

Newschannel 2 and Tennessean: Metro Schools kicks off initiative to grow STEM education

National Association for Gifted and Talented: Jonathan Bolding at Madison Middle Prep was honored for his role in teaching Gifted & Talented students.

TennesseanEast Nashville marching band to play Russell Bowl

TennesseanNashville schools have thousands of ELL students

Tennessean: Nashville schools build $38M program to teach immigrants English

Tennessean: Nashville art teacher wins ‘Rookie of the Year’ award

Newschannel 2Stratford High’s football experiencing magical season

Tennessee Bar Association: Legal Aid Partners with Nashville Public Schools

Celebrating our substitute teachers

Mr. Glenn Lewis

Mr. Glenn Lewis, a  dedicated substitute teacher in Metro Schools.

On the final day of American Education Week, we take time to appreciate the great substitute teachers in our district.

Substitutes are patient and flexible staff members who ensure students receive a quality education each day. Metro Schools is home to many dedicated substitutes, but we are always looking for talented individuals to join our team.

This week we had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Clifton Lewis, a busy Metro Schools substitute teacher who shared his personal motivation for working in schools.

Clifton Lewis was a corporal in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a certified teacher, a two-time Teacher of the Year and now he can add Metro Schools substitute teacher to his long list of accomplishments. Mr. Lewis taught in Metro Schools for 38 years before he retired in 2007.

His retirement didn’t last long. The next year he returned to Metro Schools as a substitute teacher. Mr. Lewis’ return stems from his love of teaching and the joy he feels when working with young people. He is an early riser who enjoys filling his days with work and purpose, another reason substitute teaching appeals to him.

This year, he has worked every day. Just in these last two weeks he taught at Meigs Academic Magnet Middle Prep, Hunters Lane High School and Haynes Middle Prep.

“These schools are filled with nice children who greet me in the hallway by name,” said Mr. Lewis. “I really do enjoy being in the schools again and working with the students.”

Over the years he has seen a few surprising changes in students, including an elevated interest in reading. He says as a substitute he has noticed that instead of drawing or talking with friends during a break, students read. “I have never seen so many children reading,” Mr. Lewis said, “and writing, they sure do love to read and write, even in their free time!”

He also notices an increase in the use of libraries. Students do not just visit libraries for a quick book check-out, but now spend time to learn about all of the resources they have to offer. Students are discovering how to write and cite high level research papers and using libraries as their learning center to do so. Mr. Lewis sees progress in all aspects.

“I have yet to see a teacher or principal not trying to improve their schools,” he said. “Even in low performing schools they are doing everything in their power to support and encourage students to improve their behavior and academic performance.”

Thank you for all of your service Mr. Lewis, in and out of our schools!

To become a Metro Schools substitute teacher, click here.

Museum Exhibit at Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary Explores African-American Legends of Baseball with Nashville Roots


An new exhibit at Churchwell Museum Magnet Prep explores African-American legends of baseball with Nashville roots


Henry Allen Kimbro, born on February 10, 1912 in Nashville, was a stocky centerfielder who played in the National Negro Leagues for 17 years, and was considered one of the best during his prime because of his range and great arm. Kimbro’s story is one of many in American baseball history being celebrated right now thanks to a new exhibit at Churchwell Museum Magnet Prep. A school assembly is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 24 features the new exhibit: Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Negro League Baseball in Tennessee, 1920-1960. Students have put together the exhibit with items donated by the Tennessee State Museum and private donors.

Now through December 18, the exhibit is open to the public through the following schedule:

  • Mondays from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Exhibit Special Dates & Hours:

  • Saturday, December 12; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, December 14; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tours can also be scheduled by contacting Rebecca Verner by email or phone: 615-415-9779.

See a highlights of the exhibit below:



Metro Councilman Colby Sledge reflects on his Principal For a Day experience


What would you guess the day of a Metro Schools principal entails? Probably not dealing with an issue regarding the boiler room.

District 17 Council Member Colby Sledge found out that no matter the task, a principal does whatever it takes to ensure school success – including rolling up his sleeves and making sure the heat is properly adjusted in classrooms.

On Monday, Councilman Sledge saw this firsthand when he shadowed the principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary Mathew Portell. He also observed Portell make time to advise Masters of Education students and always leave his door open to welcome the smallest question from his staff. When those tasks were out of the way, Sledge and Portell visited classrooms to hear lesson plans and view student/teacher interactions.

“I was amazed by how many student names Mathew knew,” said Sledge. “He is so personal and encouraging with the kids, this guy is definitely in these classrooms on a daily basis.”

22647455278_1e79bb259a_z22444649273_da2a31b341_zEach classroom at Fall-Hamilton Elementary has a designated student greeter to welcome guests, so Sledge met the students as he shadowed. One of his favorite parts of the day was seeing his “Lunch Buddy” (from his monthly Lunch Buddy Program) succeeding in the classroom.

“Usually we talk about fun things during lunch, sports and light topics, but on Monday I saw him doing math problems… and doing them so well! It made me feel encouraged and excited about our public schools,” said Sledge.

Sledge spends time at Fall-Hamilton Elementary regularly but advocates for all community leaders to participate in Principal for a Day. He participated this year because he knows how vital it is for leaders, especially Metro Council and School Board members, to be present in schools.

“It is crucial for Metro Schools to know we care about the educational issues on a personal level. If we want to solve anything, presence in schools is a must to create authentic community conversations,” said Sledge. “I can tell you, it is an eye-opening experience.”

Metro Schools was honored to welcome community leaders in 87 schools around the district for the Principal for the Day.

The photos taken of Colby Sledge’s Principal for a Day experience with Fall-Hamilton Principal Mathew Portell are available on Flickr.

Metro Schools to receive $3 million to grow STEM opportunities for middle school girls


Metro Schools is preparing to kick off a multi-year commitment to growing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in middle schools that will reach students in the classroom, after school and at home.

Funded by a $3 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, middle school girls and other students who are underrepresented in STEM programs would be given more opportunities and more encouragement to explore them.

The new program, called GROW STEM, is built around a strong STEM curriculum with hands-on experiences, giving students more time for learning and engagement, and mentors who can encourage them to reach higher .

“We have several STEM programs in place now at various schools, but given the growing opportunities for graduates to learn and work in STEM fields, it’s time to expand their scope and reach,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “We are grateful to the federal government for investing in such an important area of study for our students, and I am proud of our staff for presenting a winning grant proposal that clearly demonstrated the benefit our students will receive from these funds. I am very excited for the students. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it will open a lot of doors to the future.”

GROW STEM, which stands for Girls Realizing Opportunities With STEM, and it will target seven middle school programs starting in the 2016-17 school year:

  • Stratford STEM Magnet (grades 5-8)
  • Isaac Litton Middle
  •  Croft Middle
  • McMurray Middle
  • Oliver Middle
  • Goodlettsville Middle
  • Madison Middle

Each of these schools feeds into a high school with an established STEM program through the Academies of Nashville: Stratford, Overton, and Hunters Lane.

By reaching students starting in fifth grade, the program will build early interest in STEM subjects, awareness of the opportunities in STEM fields and a foundation of knowledge students can take to high school for advanced and more specialized learning. While all students can take advantage of and will reap the benefits of GROW STEM, many of its components will be aimed specifically at female students with a goal of increasing the percentage of females in STEM Academies, STEM courses and advanced math and science courses. This can be accomplished by improving girls’ interest in STEM fields, increasing their knowledge of STEM career opportunities and building self-confidence to pursue and succeed in them.

“While we certainly want to show these young women the opportunities available to them in studying STEM subjects, it will take more than just awareness,” said Dr. Kris Elliott, director of STEM for Metro Schools. “We must connect our female students with STEM role models they can relate to, successful women who will inspire our students to pursue and succeed in anything they choose – including STEM. In order to reach our students on a more personal level, this program will include in school and after school programs that involve their families.”

The main components of the program include:

  • Fun, engaging and hands-on classroom instruction based on projects and problem solving
  • Afterschool Girls STEM Club at participating schools, meeting twice a week for two hours
  • Saturday STEM Sessions at participating schools four times each school year
  • A two-week STEM Summer Camp at the three participating high schools
  •  An Annual STEM Showcase for middle school students to present research projects
  • Female mentors for middle school girls, including high school and college students studying STEM subjects and professionals working in STEM fields

The mentors are one of the strongest components of GROW STEM, with their participation woven into the afterschool clubs, Saturday sessions and summer camps. They will work with middle school girls to talk about what they study, why they do it and to show them the opportunities available to everyone – boys and girls – in STEM fields. Added to that, GROW STEM has a marketing effort baked in that will recruit students into the program and help build supportive environments at school and at home.

“The reasons why girls are underrepresented in STEM subjects are complex, so we must do our part to make these programs more attractive and welcoming to them through a variety of approaches,” said Elliott. “We can do that by successfully engaging students in school, but we know home life is also important. We plan to work with our family involvement and community engagement teams for outreach to families so they can better support their daughters’ engagement in STEM.”

The key to making GROW STEM sustainable, and securing the grant funding to begin with, is a network of partnerships with local organizations and businesses. They will support the program by working with students as mentors and guest speakers, working with teachers to help tie instruction to the real world and providing material and financial supports. Several of these partners are already in place, such as the Nashville Technology Council, the STEM Innovation Hub and many local universities. Contributions from partners are helping contribute to the 15% community match that the i3 grant requires.

“Our partners have been essential to growing STEM opportunities for several years,” said Henson. “The Academies of Nashville and the PENCIL Foundation have already built a huge network of more than 200 business and community partners already supporting STEM programs in our high schools, and we plan to continue building on this with a focus on how they can further our STEM aspirations.”

The first GROW STEM programs will start in the summer of 2016, with more to follow in the 2016-17 school year:

  • Summer 2016 – First STEM Summer Camp; teacher professional development to learn the new curriculum
  • Fall Semester 2016 – New curriculum is offered during regular class time; Afterschool Girls STEM Club begin

The i3 grant funding could run through 2020, with each component of GROW STEM expected to continue through at least that summer. A set of clear and measurable objectives were established in the grant submission, including enrollment increases, parent and student surveys and achievement on TNReady exams.

Download the news release by clicking this link: Metro Schools to Receive $3 Million to Grow STEM Opportunities for Middle School Girls.

Academies of Nashville 2014-2015 Annual Report is available

The Academies of Nashville has published its 2014-2015 annual report.

This year’s report includes student stories highlighting the experiential and project-based learning going on in the academies, an overview of accomplishments, as well as recognition for all of the business partners in the community who work to make a difference in the Academies of Nashville.

Click here to access the 2014-2015 Annual Report.

For more about the Academies of Nashville, visit their website,

Metro Schools selected for federal Farm to School planning grant


A salad bar at Stratford STEM Magnet High School. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday, Nov. 17 that Metro Schools will receive a planning grant to enhance its Farm to School nutrition program in the district.

Metro Schools will receive a $38,682 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2016-2017 school year, federal officials announced Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The grant will help MNPS work with the community’s Nutrition Alignment Team to expand its integration of locally grown foods, nutrition education and health awareness at high-needs pilot schools, according to the announcement. MNPS will also use the grant monies to strengthen relationships with local farmers, and enhance its food education partnerships as part of a effort to evaluate best practices that can be developed into a model for districtwide implementation in the future.

“This grant opportunity will give us a greater expansion of the work we’ve been doing towards developing a farm to school program within the district and helping us to build relationships in the community with farmers and vendors,” said Spencer Taylor, executive director of Nutrition Services for the district. “The grant will also help us to bring more healthy, sustainable foods to our students as well as educate them on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

Metro Schools’ grant is one of 74 projects in 39 states that support the federal Farm to School Programs, which connect child nutrition programs to local farmers and ranchers.

The USDA says their Farm to School program has helped schools invest nearly $600 million in local products and provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers.

“Farm to school programs work — for schools, for producers, and for communities,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in the announcement. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

The federal awards, which ranged from $20,000 to $100,000, are distributed in four categories — Planning, Implementation, Support Service and Training.

To see the full list of grantees and the projects being funded, click here.

PHOTOS: Metro Schools students performed with Pink Martini at the Schermerhorn over the weekend


Congratulations are in order for McGavock High School students Mordecai Choi (cello player), Julia Heidemann (voice), and Cedric Quinn (bassoon player)!

Through an audition process, they were selected to perform at a concert with the Nashville Symphony and the world famous Pink Martini at the Schermerhorn over the weekend.


Congrats, students!


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