Bringing STEAM – its inspiration and innovation – to life. That’s the goal for STEAM Family Nights.
For the last four weeks Metro Nashville Public Schools’ eighteen STEAM middle schools have hosted students, families and community partners for interactive, energetic events to showcase its STEAM program.
During each night, families have an opportunity to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum with interesting and exciting hands-on activities that focus on creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Families and students visit different stations, each with a unique activity to complete. The activity at each station demonstrates how STEAM education is inspiring our students in the classroom and preparing them to succeed in high school, college and career.
Creswell School of the Arts was one of the first Phase I schools to host a STEAM Family Night and invite families to experience STEAM first-hand.
“It was so exciting to see parents get excited and get involved in STEAM activities. This type of learning is new for our families and STEAM Night allowed our families to see what is happening new in the middle grades,” said Trellany Lane, principal at Creswell Middle School of the Arts. “We saw parents who were tenacious, competitive, creative and eager to approach learning in a different way.”
What was the crowd’s favorite activity at Creswell? The aluminum foil tower, said Lane.
Ms. Lane was with a great team for #STEAMNight Learning is fun when you are collaborating, communicating, creating and thinking critically. #itcreswellmnps @MetroSchools @MNPSDirector pic.twitter.com/krECKvQws7
— Creswell Middle Arts (@ITcreswellmnps) February 13, 2018
“We had parents who would not leave the room until they had the highest structure,” Lane said. “Schools rarely create opportunities for children and parents to create and engage with content and STEAM [family] Night allowed school and family to interact in a manner that I hope will continue.”
We still have a few weeks left – join us at an upcoming STEAM Family Night:
- 3/13/2018 – DuPont Hadley Middle Prep – 5:30-7:30 p.m.
- 3/14/2018 – Rose Park Magnet Math and Science – 5:00-7:00 p.m.
- 3/14/2018 – McMurray Middle Prep – 5:00-7:00 p.m.
- 3/15/2018 – Stratford STEM Magnet – 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- 3/15/2018 – Jere Baxter Middle Prep – Time TBD
- 3/19/2018 – J.T. Moore Middle Prep – 5:30-7:30 p.m.
- 3/22/2018 – McKissack Middle Prep – 5:00-8:00 p.m.
- 3/27/2018 – Antioch Middle Prep – 5:00-8:00 p.m.
All work is good work. You learn to work by working.
That is the belief of Opportunity NOW, a youth employment initiative launched by the Mayor’s office to create a more comprehensive out-of-school network to improve the overall climate for hiring young people in Nashville. The initiative links thousands of youth and young adults to paid job opportunities with the goal of embedding youth employment into the fabric of our community.
College and career readiness is one of our district’s top priorities. Ensuring our students are ready for success outside of our school buildings is a focus for all educators – and our community partners are invested in our students’ future successes, too. Opportunity NOW is a great example of a community partner that supports the district’s goals by giving students the opportunity to gains skills and experience that will prepare them for college, career and beyond.
“The youth are the future,” Isaiah Reed, a graduate of Cane Ridge High School who participated in the Opportunity NOW program last summer. “If you give them the opportunity, they will show you what they can do.”
Reed completed a clinical internship at Meharry Medical College where he was given the opportunity to observe clinical rotations, attend lectures and complete a medical research project. His favorite experience during the internship was the labor and delivery rotation.
“While shadowing in this department I was able to observe a Caesarian section,” said Reed. “Being able to witness life being brought into the world was an amazing opportunity.”
Reed added, “Being able to have these experiences have inspired me to pursue a career in medicine and possibility obstetrics/gynecology.”
This is just one example of the real-life connection students can experience through Opportunity NOW. We’ve all heard the phrase: ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,’ Opportunity NOW is working to bridge that gap by giving youth an opportunity for meaningful, paid working experiences.
How You Can Get Involved
More than 10,000 jobs are available for young Nashvillians through Opportunity NOW’s online job portal. The programs are broad enough to be responsive to a variety of ages and skill levels, creating pathways to both supported employment programs as well as the wide array of job opportunities available to young people in Nashville. The summer job portal is currently open for young people ages 14-24, and will close on Friday, March 16. Please share this opportunity with your students.
Although Rebecca Weiser is technically a Metro Public Health Department employee, she has been warmly welcomed in the halls of Metro Nashville Public Schools for more than 17 years. Weiser is a school nurse, an integral part of any school staff. For the past few decades, she has split her time between multiple MNPS schools and is currently Nashville School of the Arts’ (NSA) full-time nurse.
“Everyone has been so welcoming,” Weiser said. “They always have been throughout the years, I do feel like a part of the team.”
Weiser sits in her new personal office space tucked in a corner near the cafeteria and looks forward to familiarizing herself with NSA, its students and their needs. As a school nurse, she has a multi-faceted role aimed at reducing students’ health-related absenteeism; minimizing health problems that impair learning; reducing or preventing health problems through education; educating the community about health concerns of school-aged children; helping students to achieve the highest degree of independent functioning and assisting with referrals and screenings.
“I think it has made a difference being here full-time for the students – sometimes they just need a place to sit and recover whether it is physical or emotional,” Weiser said. “They lose less time in class when they do not need to be taken out of school for health appointments.”
Weiser started her career in pediatrics and has been in youth-centered health roles ever since. She did not know she wanted to be a school nurse but from the moment she started, Weiser felt the comfort of a fulfilled career calling.
“I didn’t always plan to be a school nurse but I know this is where I am meant to be—I just love helping students and seeing new faces,” Weiser said.
“Rebecca has a long history with School Health in the Woodbine South Nashville area. She has made an impact in the lives of many of the students in the Glencliff cluster,” said Metro Health Program Manager, Lisa Nistler. “Her passion is to blend the concepts of public health and community nursing into the role of the school nurse, thereby, assisting students and families in those communities.”
Not only does Weiser love seeing students, she has enjoyed being in NSA’s creative atmosphere – a performing arts school full of talented students. To her delight, Weiser has discovered her office is close enough to the auditorium to hear the muffled sounds of performances. Whether her day involves a school visit from Hunter Hayes or a spell of a stomach bug, Weiser looks forward to each day with equal excitement and joy.
“In this job you have to be flexible and ready for anything—you never know what your day will look like,” she said.
While Weiser welcomes a busy day, she advises teachers to share good classroom hygiene like hand- washing, covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing and, most importantly, knowing when to stay home when you are sick.
“Teachers—when your student looks or feels sick please encourage them to come to the clinic,” Weiser said. “And parents— know when to keep your child at home in the first place.”
Local real estate agents visited Cane Ridge High School on March 9 to kickoff Discover MNPS, an initiative created by MNPS’ community partner PENCIL to introduce community members to neighborhood schools and the impactful work taking place in public education. Discover MNPS invites members of the community to tour facilities, meet teachers and staff members, and see the learning process in action by visiting classrooms.
Attendees started the morning with an introduction from Cane Ridge High School’s Principal, Michelle Sanchez, and were then divided into groups for tours led by student ambassadors. The ambassadors showed the realtors in-session classrooms focused on programming in the Academy of Law, Academy of Health Management, Academy of Architecture and Construction and the Academy of Arts and Communications. The day concluded with a lunch in the library and the opportunity to hear from a panel of business partners engaged with the Academy of Architecture and Construction who have been involved in career-readiness programs at benefitting students at Cane Ridge for years. The partners shared their personal experiences and provided time for questions.
Discover MNPS tours will be held four times a year with two events in the spring and two in the fall. Each tour location will be in a different school and cluster visitors can learn about the district’s diverse academic offerings and unique school cultures.
For individuals interested in joining the next tour or to become involved with Metro Schools as a community partner, visit http://www.pencilforschools.org. The next date for the Discover MNPS tour will be announced shortly and will be posted at the informational webpage coming soon: www.mnps.org/discovermnps.
Meraki is a word the Greeks use when describing doing something with soul, creativity or love. If you spend time with Leticia Skae, you will quickly learn she approaches her work in this way with razor-sharp wit, a joy of life that is contagious, and an unquestionable passion about her calling.
Skae came to the United States when she was three years old. After enrolling in Metro Schools as a bilingual English Language Learner student she became excited about reading and the dramatic arts.
After graduating from Nashville School of the Arts, Skae moved to Chattanooga for college – but knew she eventually wanted to move back to Nashville to teach. “I am a graduate of MNPS, so giving back to the district that helped construct who I am today has been a dream,” Skae said.
Skae began her career for Metro Schools as an English Language Arts teacher before becoming a Literacy Teacher Development Specialist (LTDS) at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. Skae said her favorite part about being an LTDS has been working with teachers and sharing best practices.
“I love collaborating with teachers and I often learn as much from them as they learn from me,” Skae said, adding that she became an improved teacher when she discovered she needed to be more culturally responsive. “It can be a daunting change for some teachers because their reference points usually come from their own experiences in school.”
Skae’s own shift to a cultural responsive mindset took serious soul-searching.
“I started teaching from books that had more diversity – both in characters and authors,” Skae said, who tailored curriculum to support her students’ different needs. “My students instantly became more assiduous and, as a result, they made remarkable growth in their end-of-course exams.”
Skae said she understands literacy is the foundation for a successful life. And although she recognizes there is still work to do, she sees progress.
“Literacy encompasses all things from reading, writing, speaking, listening and comprehending – all critical skills that assist you throughout life,” she said. “Our student population is diverse with many of our students struggling with poverty and language barriers that can make learning more complex. We need to connect with our students where they are and show them that there is a substantial world, with unlimited possibilities and untapped dreams which awaits them.”
Who would have guessed that one of the voices you hear when you call Metro Nashville Public Schools is that of a rock star? Blake Bachman started his career in MNPS similar to other Central Office employees, working at a school. However, unlike other employees, Bachman spent the earlier part of his life making music, touring the country and making rock videos.
“I was in a band called Dillinger in the 1990s and we had moderate success,” Bachman said.
Bachman spent most of his childhood in Trancas, California near Malibu where his immediate family has and continues to be involved in the entertainment business.
“My father was an animator who helped develop the original Fat Albert cartoon. My older brother was a cinematographer who filmed many popular commercials. My older sister is a make-up artist and currently working on the show, Superior Donuts and, my younger brother plays music in Hollywood,” he said.
“Our songs were played in medium rotation around the country and here in Nashville on WKDF back when they were a rock station,” Bachman said. After his record label folded, he decided to move to Nashville in hopes of continuing his music career. After little success, he settled down, married and started a family – this is when his career switched gears.
Bachman opened several businesses in Nashville, including a mortgage company. When the housing market crashed in 2008, he was forced to close his company. This was the beginning of his career with Metro Schools.
Bachman started out at Margaret Allen Middle School before transitioning to the Family Information Center at the Central Office. He serves as one of the Family Liaisons within the department where he keeps current on district policies and assists families find solutions to concerns they have within the school district.
“I have always enjoyed helping people and solving problems and my current position offers an opportunity to do both of these,” Bachman said.
For nearly 10 years, Bachman has worked with the school district and said he thoroughly enjoys his position, which allows him the flexibility to be creative. He has always been interested in HTMLs and writing codes for websites so he developed an internal program for the Family Information Center called BLUS. BLUS provides rapid responses to frequently asked questions providing a swifter reply time to customers and families.
“We have molded our department into focusing more on parents and students and meeting their needs,” he said.
While Bachman no longer appears on television shows like Studio 54 with Jack Lemmon, he continues his passion for music by playing local gigs in Nashville and surrounding areas. He believes that as long as he has an outlet to play music he has the best of both worlds – serving parents and students and fulling his dreams of playing music for his fans. “I enjoy playing, it feeds my soul,” he said.
Last week Metro Schools welcomed community members to Gower Elementary, Ruby Major Elementary, Amqui Elementary and Glenview Elementary to read to classes for the annual Read Me Week celebration. Read Me Week was started by Book’em— a local, children’s literacy nonprofit and MNPS partner, which provides volunteer readers to local schools, and collects and distributes new books to economically disadvantaged children and teens in Davidson County.
Read Me Week introduces students to a wide-range of local role models – a ballerina, a mascot, a construction worker, a businessman, a senator – and shows how all of these career paths have one thing in common: reading. What started as a one-day event is now a four-day event at multiple schools with more than 100 guest readers from all different career backgrounds. Each day started with a pep rally with all of the volunteers and students in attendance. Awards and donations were presented for community partners and students participated in special performances to welcome the volunteers. Gower’s students shared their poetry on stage, Ruby Major’s students sang their rendition of Imagine and for the finale school of the week, Glenview welcomed the Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph with their own song and dance.
A few of the many community leaders who attended throughout the week included Dr. Kevin D. Rome, Sr., Ph.D., President of Fisk University; Judge Sheila Calloway; State Senator Jeff Yarbro of Senate District 21; Dr. Sharon Gentry and Anna Shepherd of the MNPS School Board of Education; Jr.; Booster of the Nashville Sounds and Gnash of the Nashville Predators. We appreciate all of the special guests who came out to share their love of reading with these young students!
This week Metro Schools will continue the fun with Read Across America Day – a national celebration of literacy efforts across America and the love of reading. While each school is expected to have individual events and guests that fit their own schools, all schools are encouraged to participate in Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R) where students are given a designated 20 minutes to take time to focus on reading a book for fun. More information will be shared through MNPS’ social media and can be found here.
In September 1957, sixteen courageous Metro Schools students made history by being the first black children to desegregate Nashville’s schools. More than sixty years later, these students were honored for the important part they played in our city’s history during a special celebration entitled Because of You on Monday, Feb. 26.
In an emotional ceremony honoring the sacrifices these students and their families made, there was one unifying message of gratitude. While it may be hard to imagine today, the first-graders that bravely walked into school on that day in September faced visceral hatred. And because of their bravery, today’s students have access to excellent public education and the chance to create and chase their dreams.
“Where schools were once a place where black students and white students couldn’t learn together – or learn from each other – our schools are now a place where all students, regardless of where they came from or how they got here, are educated in a safe environment where they can dream about their futures and have the opportunity to chase after those dreams,” said Dr. Joseph.
The event included remarks from Mayor Megan Barry, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, Board of Education member Dr. Sharon Gentry, Board chair Anna Shepherd, Rep. Harold Love, Jr. and a moving performance by Hillsboro High School’s choir. Mayor Barry signed an official proclamation naming Feb. 26 as “Nashville 16 Day” in the city of Nashville. The former Metro Schools students and their families were presented with plaques to commemorate the occasion and proclamation.
These students forever changed the history of our school system – and the city of Nashville – for the better.
Below is a list of the sixteen students who enrolled as first-graders on the first day of desegregation in Nashville:
- Erroll Groves
- Ethel Mai Carr
- Patricia Guthrie
- Barbara Jean Watson
- Marvin Moore
- Charles Edward Battles
- Cecil Ray Jr.
- Charles Elbert Ridley
- Willis Edgar Lewis Jr.
- Linda McKinley
- Rita Buchanan
- Jacqueline Griffith
- Lajuanda Street
- Sinclair Lee Jr.
- Joy Smith
- Patricia Watson
Click here to learn more about the Nashville 16.
Jenny Bobbitt took an unusual path to becoming a teacher – on roller skates.
Before beginning her career at Metro Nashville Public Schools, Bobbitt spent her time working at a restaurant to pay off student loans and playing a sport she loved: roller derby.
“Roller derby taught me so much about myself,” Bobbitt said. “I have taken many lessons from derby over to my teaching career. One element is ‘head on a swivel.’ I am always aware of my students and have an eye on everything they do. Teamwork is another element. It’s important to know how to work as a team and to understand that you are stronger as a unit instead of alone.”
Bobbitt joined MNPS in 2014 and is currently a fourth grade teacher at Shayne Elementary School. She first joined Shayne as a temporary fourth grade English Language Arts teacher and immediately fell in love with the school.
“I prayed every day that a position would open at Shayne for the coming year,” Bobbitt said. “To my luck not only did a position open, but it was with the same amazing fourth grade team. Shayne is one of those great schools that once you’re a Shayne Star, you will always want to be a Shayne Star teacher.”
After nine years of roller derby, Bobbitt finally hung up her skates for good to focus on teaching and enjoying time with her family. Although she’s no longer skating as Maulin Monroe (Bobbitt’s roller derby character based on Marilyn Monroe) for the Nashville Roller Girls, she’s still finding joy as a teacher.
“My favorite thing about teaching is being able to make an impact in a child’s life,” Bobbitt said. “I like knowing that at the end of the day I taught someone something new.”
Bobbitt also adds that her inspiration to become a teacher came from her first MNPS experience – as a student.
“I went to elementary school at Lakeview Elementary,” she said. “It was my excellent teachers there who inspired me later in life to choose education as my profession.”
Bobbitt is looking forward to wrapping up another great school year at Shayne and marrying her fiancé, John, this summer.
If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.
Kenetra Harris has been with Metro Schools since 2005 starting as a part time general nutrition assistant and working her way up to her current role as school nutrition manager for three Metro Schools—a job that she says provides a different task and schedule every day and allows her to interact with her important customers – students.
From her own experiences, Harris is better able to manage her staff with know-how and understanding. She is the go-to person when a co-worker needs advice or counsel because of her empathetic approach. Harris exhibits empathy for others daily, and particularly when she learns about students who may be experiencing difficult home situations or need food. The desire to help students is the motivation for Harris and her staff to spring into action every day to ensure every child is fed.
“We get to know them [students] well,” Harris said. “They will tell us things they wouldn’t necessarily tell their teachers about their needs.”
Because of her care and kindness, Harris is often the recipient of birthday party invites, funny stories, and clever elementary-aged observations—anecdotes she says have always been her favorite part of the job. While she is no longer the official café cashier, she enjoys the opportunity to catch-up with her elementary friends by occasionally taking a shift at the cashier counter.
Harris not only takes the time to listen, she works hard to keep her students safe. As a nutrition professional, and the mother of a child with a peanut allergy, she knows how important it is to keep close track of food allergies and diet restrictions.
“I want parents to be comfortable trusting us with their children,” she said. “We make sure every child receives good nutrition and eats something no matter what their dietary restrictions. We offer something for every child.”
Harris and other Metro Schools Café employees maintain notes about each child’s dietary needs. She knows specific student allergies as well as which children are vegetarian or vegan. For children with those dietary needs, she makes sure they do not feel left out and some days will make them special boxed lunches varying their options.
Harris shows her love by making her cafés a safe, happy and welcoming space for students. For Valentine’s Day, the Eakin, Waverly Belmont and Harris Hillman cafeterias are expected to reflect the colors of pink and red to coincide with the theme of the holiday.
“My favorite part of this job is just being able to see the kids and to know they are being fed,” Harris said.