Metro’s Music Makes Us initiative earns visit from the chairman of the NEA

Metro Schools music programs drew even more national attention this week as Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), traveled to Nashville to visit Metro schools and other organizations actively engaging, serving and promoting the arts.

On Tuesday, August 23, Chairman Chu visited Wright Middle School, where she learned about the Music Makes Us initiative.


“We’re so happy to have the opportunity to visit Wright Middle Prep,” said Chairman Chu. “The Music Makes Us program is a wonderful model that empowers the kids to not only be engaged in music, but to feel like they belong. I especially appreciate the partners in this program—people from the Mayor’s Office, Congressman Cooper, parents, the Country Music Association Foundation, private partners and others—who are all working together because they care about the students.”

Music Makes Us is a joint effort of Metro Schools, the Mayor’s Office and music industry and community leaders. The initiative aims to strengthen traditional school music while combining it with a contemporary curriculum that embraces new technologies and reflects our diverse student population.

In 2015, Metro Schools received a grant from the NEA to support the implementation of Music Makes Us: Next Generation, a collective impact project which will convene community stakeholders and provide professional development for school teachers.

Chairman Chu met with partners about this program and got the chance to see it in action through visiting a classroom where students learn Mariachi music.

“The fact that NEA Chairman Jane Chu visited Music Makes Us, a national model for music education, is testament to the strength of that program,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

While in Nashville, Chairman Chu also visited other sites that have been sponsored by the NEA, including Metro Arts, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Nashville Children’s Theatre, the Schermerhorn Symphony and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Taylor Swift Education Center.

Donelson community group provides relief to Hickman Elementary teachers

Hickman Elementary School started the school year off with a bang. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the kind they had in mind.

On the evening of Aug. 9, lightning struck the school. No children were injured, but the school suffered smoke and water damage with some minor roof damage. There were four affected kindergarten classrooms, including damaged or destroyed books and classroom materials – some of which were purchased with the teachers’ own money.

Thanks to a local organization, the teachers won’t have to reach back into their pockets for all new supplies.

Hip Donelson, the community group built to support Donelson neighborhoods, decided to help the teachers out. This Monday, Aug. 22, the organization presented a check to the staff at Hickman, including Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, District 4 School Board Member Anna Shepherd and Kimberly Fowler, the principal of Hickman.

The money provided by Hip Donelson will be used for the teachers to be able to restore their classrooms back to their original condition as much as they can. The mission of Hip Donelson is to advance the well-being of Donelson’s people, pets, neighborhoods, community organizations and nonprofit organizations through education and service.

Cambridge ELC chosen as a national model for other early learning programs

Metro Schools is once again in the spotlight for modeling best practices in early learning. The district’s newest school, Cambridge Early Learning Center (ELC), has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be used as a national model for equity in discipline and behavior support.

Cambridge ELC, a school that is funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant, will be used to set the standard for addressing issues of implicit bias, uneven implementation of discipline and integrating social and emotional education with academics in early learning programs.


“It’s another sign that our early learning programs are headed in the right direction,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “We have been aggressively pushing for equity in discipline practices district-wide. By setting a foundation for positive behavior support in prekindergarten, we are investing in a future of better schools. This is a vote of confidence from the federal government about how we’re changing our approach to both early learning and discipline in education.”

ED and HHS intend to establish demonstration programs within Preschool Development Grant sites like Cambridge ELC that can serve as national models on addressing issues of disproportionate discipline outcomes and using culturally responsive practices. Through a program called the Pyramid Equity Project, they hope to provide recommendations on establishing preventative disciplinary policies and administering those policies without discrimination or bias.

The objectives of the project coincide with Metro Schools’ mission to the whole child through integrating physical, social and emotional development with academics.

“We are honored to be one of two schools chosen across the United States to become a demonstration site through the Pyramid Equity Project,” said Dana Eckman, Director of Model Early Learning Centers and the Pre-K Expansion Grant for Metro Schools. “The Tennessee Department of Education, Office of Early Learning and Cambridge Early Learning Center will work collaboratively with national experts in the implementation of the project. This opportunity is one that will be shared across Tennessee as Cambridge becomes a national model for social-emotional best practices to other districts and early childhood programs.”

The project strives to raise awareness about the issues of race, ethnicity and national origin in early childhood settings. It focuses on the high rates of suspensions and expulsions that occur in preschool settings nationwide, with much concern given to how these practices are associated with negative educational and life outcomes.

Currently, the preschool instructional model at Metro Schools is serving as a basis for changing elementary school education. Metro Schools believes that the new pre-K discipline model can also lay the groundwork for changing elementary school discipline in the same way. In the future, these changes can extend beyond elementary school and into the middle and high schools in the district.

Renaming ceremony for Davis Early Learning Center honors community leader and educator

Metro Schools honored a community leader and legendary Metro Nashville educator at the renaming ceremony for the Ivanetta H. Davis Early Learning Center, formerly the Bordeaux Early Learning Center, last Friday.


Mrs. Ivanetta H. Davis was a distinguished community leader and educator with a long career in Nashville Public Schools. She is perhaps best known for her tenure as the principal of Moses McKissack Elementary School from 1954 to 1983. Under her leadership, the elementary school became the first in Tennessee to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Davis is also known for being the First Lady of Tennessee State University, where her husband, Dr. Walter S. Davis, was president from 1948 to 1968.

In attendance to recognize the Metro Nashville educator were MNPS Chief of Schools Dr. Sito Narcisse, MNPS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Monique Felder and several members of the Board of Education.

The Davis ELC features 10 classrooms that will provide a high-quality, play-based curriculum designed to support the development of children as a whole and prepare them for kindergarten. To support their pre-K program, the Davis ELC has partnered with non-profits, like Plant the Seed which will give students interactive educational experiences through providing a garden-based curriculum.

Dr. Shawn Joseph Names Chief of Staff

Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph has hired the final member of his executive cabinet, completing the leadership team for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Dr. Jana Carlisle will join the team as chief of staff beginning September 15.

Carlisle headshot

Dr. Jana Carlisle joins Metro Schools as its new chief of staff.

Dr. Carlisle currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at the NYC Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that has helped develop educational leadership talent in New York and across the country since 2003.

“The Chief of Staff is the final piece of our leadership structure, and in a lot of ways, will be the keystone role,” said Dr. Joseph. “The job helps provide coherence and effective communication both internally and externally. Dr. Carlisle will help oversee and manage the performance of our different divisions, as well as directly supervising the communications, government relations and research and assessment teams. Dr. Carlisle has the breadth of experience necessary to fill those many roles, from pedagogy to policy and strategy to communications and engagement. I am proud to bring her to Nashville and have her support an already talented team.”

As the Chief of Staff, Dr. Carlisle will lead collaboration between internal and external stakeholders to integrate the strategic research and planning happening right now with work that was begun prior to Dr. Joseph’s arrival. She will help bridge existing district programs and community initiatives, like Project RESET from the Nashville Public Education Foundation, with new research and efforts including:

  • recommendations provided by the transition team
  • feedback gathered from the 13 Listen and Learn sessions
  • district engagement with multiple stakeholder groups through focus groups, surveys and internal and external conversations

Dr. Carlisle’s leadership will unify all of these elements in order to develop and implement a bold new strategic plan that will articulate Metro Schools’ vision for the future. In addition to the departments that will directly report to her, Dr. Carlisle will closely collaborate with the three major divisions of Metro Schools:

  • Division of Teaching and Learning under Dr. Monique Felder
  • Division of School Improvement and Support under Dr. Sito Narcisse
  • Operations Division under Chris Henson

Dr. Carlisle will effectively manage the operations of the Director’s office by supporting other members of the leadership team, planning for the Director’s meetings and events and serving as a key contact for department heads and community members.

“With the transition team now deep into their work, we will soon have a clearer picture of our new strategic direction and the steps we need to take to get there,” said Dr. Joseph. “Dr. Carlisle will be here to make sure every step we take is directly aligned with the goals we set in the new strategic plan. She shares our values of equity and access for all children and a clear focus on what is right for our diverse community.”

Dr. Carlisle is originally from Michigan and has spent 25 years in education working in leadership roles for public school districts, nonprofit organizations and the philanthropic community.

“Educational success is a right, not an economic privilege,” said Dr. Carlisle. “Throughout my career, I have brought together diverse sets of partners to work for educational equity and access for all students, regardless of their backgrounds. I have deep experience framing and facilitating improvement processes and practices, as well as helping others plan and manage for change and successful implementation. Nashville has many of the right pieces in place for such a change, and I look forward to aligning our organizational goals, objectives and practices to achieve the results we need.”

Personal Biography
Raised in Michigan as the daughter of a university professor and a K-12 special education administrator, Jana L. Carlisle grew up thinking that all children enjoyed the privilege of high-quality schools and an understanding that college was for anyone who aspired to attend. As a political science student studying at Michigan State University, she realized that in America, there are clear opportunity gaps that exist based upon citizens’ socio-economic status and, in many instances, citizens’ race.

Dr. Carlisle recalls, “As a middle-class white woman with highly educated parents, I had the privilege and expectation of dreaming big. Many children, however, including those who were poor and children of color not living too far away in Michigan’s urban core, had fewer opportunities and different expectations set for them. It wasn’t right, and I felt compelled to do something about it.”

Throughout the last 25 years, Dr. Carlisle has sought to improve public education for all students through leadership positions in the not-for-profit, public and philanthropic sectors. Her roles have placed her in an upstate New York urban superintendent’s office, an upstate New York employer association that ran education programs, a major Seattle-based international foundation on the college ready team, a Washington state-level business-education partnership organization, two different national education not-for-profit organizations located in Washington, DC and New York City, and an independent consultancy.

Dr. Carlisle earned her B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University, a M.S. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Rochester and an Ed.D. in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Carlisle paraphrases Ron Edmonds powerful commentary on our desire to educate children stating, “We can educate any child we choose to educate.” She goes on to share, “Our public school systems have the unique opportunity to motivate all children to challenge themselves to maximize their potential. They can also expose children to opportunities that can transform their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come. We must work to ensure that all schools work to advance all children each and every day.”

Dr. Carlisle has three young adult children – Emma who is starting graduate school at Kings College of London, Jared who is a rising senior at University of Washington and Isabelle who is a rising sophomore at Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Community gathers to celebrate progress on MLK renovation

Students and the community gathered this week to sign a beam celebrating the progress on the ongoing construction project at Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School.

The celebration took place in the frame of the new building. It began with a performance from MLK’s band and orchestra and a welcome from the school’s principal, Dr. Angela McShepard-Ray. Dr. Shawn Joseph, the Director of Metro Schools, Councilman Freddie O’Connell and Councilman Ed Kindall, who is a Pearl High School alumnus, also spoke.


Founded in 1986, MLK uses the same building that once housed the historic Pearl High School. As a historic building, and as it currently stands, the building doesn’t match the work happening inside. The school needs significant systems upgrades, more modern classrooms and just plain more space. While trying to preserve its historic character, our plans will make the school much more suitable for modern instruction.

Aiming for LEED Silver certification, the multi-phased renovation and expansion will give MLK students modern facilities that will take their education to the next level. The $6.9 million plan includes upgrades to the auditorium and science rooms, a new technology and music wing, a new cafeteria and a new three-story addition with 20 classrooms.

The new addition, already in progress, is located on the south side of the existing school at 18th Avenue and Jo Johnston. The building will add 23,742 square feet of space and will reduce overcrowding. The first floor will include new administrative offices and a new library, with the second and third floors housing new classrooms and support spaces. The building will also feature a student-designed mural honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2014, MLK was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, an honor that was given to only 340 schools across the country. The school has a rich history, strong community spirit and a promising future. This project will provide students and staff with more opportunities for greatness.

Thanks to U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper; Board members Elissa Kim, Mary Pierce and Christiane Buggs; and Council members Freddie O’Connell, Erica Gilmore and Ed Kindall for attending. The Pearl High School Alumni Association was also at the celebration and continues to be a big supporter of the school.

Since 2013, the district has invested more than $160 million its high schools. Similar to MLK, Overton High School is also currently under construction for renovations and an addition. Hume-Fogg is undergoing a $15 million renovation, and Hillsboro has been approved for $40 million so far for a partial rebuild and complete renovation. Antioch High School is getting new classrooms, and Stratford’s total renovation opened last year.

High school seniors get a second chance at the ACT. FOR FREE.

Is your high-school senior unhappy with his or her ACT score? Did they not score high enough for the scholarship they want? Or maybe just want to see if they can reach even higher?

It’s been shown that students who retake the ACT generally improve their score. This helps them qualify for more financial aid, like the HOPE Scholarship. Unfortunately, retaking the exam can be an unexpected expense.

Senior ACT Retake

That’s why the Tennessee Department of Education is giving eligible high school seniors the opportunity to retake the exam FOR FREE.

High school seniors who have previously taken the ACT can sign up to retake the test on October 22 at no cost to them. To take the test for free, students must individually register using a waiver by Sept. 16.

The waivers will be provided through each school’s counselor, and students must use their code when they register for the Oct. 22 test date.

Students who register after Sept. 16 but before the late registration date of Sept. 30 will be responsible for paying the late registration fee.

ACT scores are important. They can make a big impact on a student’s life, even after college. All eligible students are encouraged to visit their school’s counseling office for a free registration code. The waivers are expected to be delivered to each school the week of Aug. 22.

Cambridge Early Learning Center celebrates its opening

An historic building gets new life after serving the community for 25 years. The old southeast library branch, newly renovated, has reopened as Cambridge Early Learning Center for prekindergarten students.

The Southeast Nashville community celebrated Metro Schools’ newest addition with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, August 12.

Cambridge Early Learning Center Ribbon Cutting

Through the school, Principal Deeann Miree and her staff will provide a high-quality, play-based curriculum that supports the development of children as a whole while also preparing them for kindergarten and beyond.

The center was built to meet the expanding demand in Nashville for early childhood education funded through the federal pre-K expansion grant awarded in 2014. Metro Schools began renovating the library in 2015, and as the new Cambridge ELC it represents the district’s ongoing commitment to serve its growing community.

Cambridge ELC features eight pre-K classrooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a multipurpose group meeting space, a garden and a playground that includes a bicycle track and outdoor canopy. To give students interactive educational experiences, the center partnered with non-profits like Plant the Seed, which will provide garden-based education programs, and Global Education Center, which will provide multicultural dance- and music-based programs.

Through the expansion of access to high-quality preschool programs, the federal pre-K expansion grant is playing an indispensable part in the advancement of early childhood education not just in Metro Schools but in Nashville as a whole.

The most important thing for 7th grade families to do Right. Now.

Proof of immunization.

We know it’s something that might have slipped by as part of the back to school rush. But it’s something we really need right now. Not only is it state law, but we care about students starting the school year on the right foot by avoiding absences.

And that’s why this is so important – attendance is a major indicator of student success.

We have about 2,600 seventh-grade students who haven’t turned in their proof of updated vaccinations. If their schools don’t have the updated records by Monday, August 15, these seventh grade students will have to stay home.

So here’s what you need to know:

  • Students entering seventh grade for the 2016-2017 school year are required to have two additional immunizations on their record.Under new Tennessee laws put in place a few years ago, students are required to have a Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) booster shot and must provide verification of an immunity to varicella. Proof of an immunity to varicella, more commonly known as Chicken Pox, can be provided as either two doses of the varicella shot or a history of having the disease.
  • Students who do not currently meet this requirement can get the necessary immunizations at a primary health care provider or at one of the three following Metro Public Health Department locations:
    • Lentz Public Health Center
      Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
      2500 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 120
      Phone: (615) 340-5607
      Fax: (615) 340-8542
      Closed for staff meetings the second Wednesday of each month from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
      For WIC services, please call (615) 340-5619.
    • East Nashville Public Health Center
      Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
      1015 East Trinity Lane
      Phone: (615) 862-7916
      Fax: (615) 880-2127
      Closed for staff meetings the second Tuesday of each month from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
      For WIC services, please call (615) 862-6626.
    • Woodbine Public Health Center
      Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
      Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
      224 Oriel Street
      Phone: (615) 862-7940
      Fax: (615) 880-2194
      Closed for staff meetings the second Wednesday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
      For WIC services, please call (615) 340-5619.

For walk-in services at all three Public Health Center, patients must sign in by 3:30 p.m. For Thursday’s extended hours at the Woodbine location, patients must sign in by 5:30 p.m.

For walk-up services for Immunization Records, the last time to sign up is 4:15 p.m., but the phone will be answered until 4:30 p.m.

For any questions, please call our Family Information Center at 615-259-INFO (4636), by email, at, or by chat on You can also visit Central Office at 2601 Bransford Avenue, for lobby service.

Metro Schools Announces Additional “Listen and Learn” events with Dr. Joseph

The Listen and Learn sessions have been very popular, with hundreds of people at every event – more than 2,000 so far. The demand is still high to meet new Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph and give him thoughts and opinions on the district.

Though every session so far has been open to all families who want to attend, locations were chosen to meet parents by cluster, hitting every geographic area of Nashville.

August 17, 2016 – Choice School Parents and Community Members

There is additional demand from parents who are not bound by cluster, those who use the choice process to send their children to schools all over the district. Dr. Joseph and the Board of Education will host an additional Listen & Learn session for choice school families and community members. All are welcome to attend and share their ideas on the future of Metro Schools.

Date: August 17, 2016

Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Location: Rose Park Magnet Math and Science Middle Prep, 1025 9th Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210


Flyers: Spanish | Arabic | Somali | Kurdish | Burmese | Nepali | Somali

August 18, 2016 – Rescheduled McGavock Cluster Listen and Learn

Because of a traveling delay, Dr. Joseph was unavailable at the McGavock Cluster Listen and Learn in July.

The event will feature an hour long question-and-answer session featuring Dr. Joseph.

Date: August, 18, 2016

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: McGavock High School, 3150 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214.




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