#MNPSco2017: Kathy Trieu, Glencliff High School

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Glencliff High School’s Kathy Trieu was not only a graduating senior; she was a working parent.

“I am amazed by Kathy. Her organizational and time management skills blow me away and are stronger than some of the teachers. She has managed to remain at the top of her class academically, while simultaneously staying involved in many extracurricular activities and raising a daughter, who is currently almost two years old,” Glencliff High School counselor Ellen Houston said.

Ranked in the top five percent of her senior class, Kathy’s ACT score is ten points higher than the school average score. “Her level of maturity and focus on academics is light years from that of many of her classmates, making her that much more exceptional,” Houston said.

Kathy’s approach to learning is efficient and direct because as a working mom, she has absolutely no extra time to waste. For this reason, she became an expert time manager. When she had a school assignment or project, no matter how challenging, she took it head on, squandering no precious time, Houston said.

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Student leadership in restorative practices: Glencliff’s peace team

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Photo 1

This blog entry was written by Laura Fittz, restorative practices coordinator at Glencliff High School.

“You know how some people listen to talk? Well, we listen to understand because we
want to understand other people and we want people to understand us.”

Maria A., a senior student at Glencliff High School, used these words in explaining the key values of the Peace Team, a group of twenty-two sophomores, juniors and seniors who are co-designing and facilitating restorative practices at Glencliff High School.

I am the restorative practices coordinator at Glencliff High School, and one of the greatest joys of my work is teaching (read: learning from) the Peace Team.

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Restorative practices represent a paradigm shift in school culture from one that is punitive to one that is restorative by involving stakeholders, repairing harm and transforming relationships within a community. As Glencliff embarks upon its restorative journey, we’ve worked diligently to remain faithful to the fundamental premise of restorative practices.

“People are happier, more cooperative and productive and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.”

-Ted Wachtel, International Institute or Restorative Practices, 2004

Our implementation of restorative practices at Glencliff has focused on remaining faithful to working with students. The Peace Team has been a driving force in working with other students, GHS teachers and in designing policies and procedures for the upcoming year when we will begin full-school implementation.

Peace Team members not only study restorative practices as an alternative to typical disciplinary policies; they also practice what they preach. Throughout the year,
Peace Team students have participated in student-created and designed committees, have mentored other students, designed and facilitated solidarity circles in response to difficult national events, facilitated circles at a Antioch Middle School (Photo 1), mentored teachers who hope to add community circles into their practice (and have gathered qualitative data through surveys, observations and interviews to improve practice), mediated conflicts, helped teachers solve classroom problems, served as panelists at a U.S. Department of Education’s discipline conference (Photo 2), designed and facilitated a community circle with GHS administration (Photo 3) and have most recently provided advice and guidance to administration and teachers at Hillsboro High School, who hope to start their very own Peace Team next year (Photo 4).

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Photo 3

I taught English 2 several years before I became the restorative practices coordinator at Glencliff. Throughout my teaching career, I have envisioned my role as a liberatory educator, and I have endeavored to get myself out of the way as much as possible so that students can take ownership over their own learning. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) provides an epistemology that has taken my natural tendencies and transformed them into a guiding force in the design of the Peace Team.

As understood and exemplified by Cammarota and Fine (2008), YPAR “provides young people with opportunities to study social problems affecting their lives and then determine actions to rectify these problems” (p. 2). Through a “radical commitment to inquiry-inspired action” (Fine, 2008), the YPAR epistemology enables youth to learn skills of critical inquiry and resistance in a variety of contexts – inquiry through and for youth challenging the normalization of oppressive practices in which they live (Cammarota and Fine, 2008, p. 2). As current Glencliff students, Peace Team members have a vested interest in the current and future practices of the school for both their family and community members. Peace Team members not only study social problems affecting their lives, but they also design solutions to those problems that affect their everyday experiences at the school.

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Photo 4

Peace Team members have found the experience to be meaningful.

“You actually get stuff done here,” said Tania N., a sophomore member.

“All the skills we’ve learned in class – you can use them outside of class,” said Stephanie A., a junior member.

In addition to the remarkable amount of outreach undertaken by this group, members have hopes for further involvement next year:

“If a fight happens and we get called in to help facilitate a conference. That would be pretty cool,” said Tyler, a junior member.

Although an abundance of emerging literature speaks to the effectiveness of restorative practices in promoting positive student behavior, there is a gap in the conversation concerning the experiences and outcomes of student leaders co-designing and implementing restorative practices through a Youth Participatory Action Research framework. The Peace Team aims to fill that void, and to act as ambassadors in the halls of Glencliff High School and beyond. Plans for future collaborations with other MNPS schools is underway for next year, and Peace Team students hope to expand their reach in working with teachers and peers to utilize restorative practices in putting MNPS students – and equitable education – first.

The Peace Team has made a remarkable impact on Glencliff this year, and they have big
plans for the future. In Stephanie’s words, “I just want to take everything I’ve learned here and take it out into the world.”

I look forward to learning with the Peace Team as its members make those dreams a reality.

To learn more about restorative practices at Glencliff High School, contact Laura Fittz at laura.fittz@mnps.org.

Metro Schools to host social emotional learning conference in June

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Metro Schools’ Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Department and Alignment Nashville‘s Behavioral Health/SEL Team are hosting the 2017 Social Emotional Learning Conference on June 29-30 at Cane Ridge High School.

Through social emotional learning, Metro Schools and its community partners are demonstrating a commitment to meeting the needs of the whole learner by helping students build skills to deal with all of life’s challenges and develop positive strategies for handling conflict and managing healthy social relationships.

It was a combination of the physical movement which all kids need, along with the tools to manage their emotions that we felt were a good match for our schoolSome of the most impactful practices were the daily goal setting at the top of the day and the embodied relaxation at the end of the day.”

-Susan Purcell-Orleck, SEL Coordinator, Meigs Middle School

The conference first launched in 2011 and has drawn nationally recognized SEL and education leaders from all over the country. The conference is also attended by thousands of Davidson county educators – free of charge.

As an instructional coach, I attended my first SEL Conference in 2012, which sparked a passion for integrating SEL and instruction.  That next fall, I started the year in classrooms modeling Community Gathering as a way to build community with and among teachers and students and to integrate SEL and academic content.  This helped me forge positive relationships with teachers and improved our instructional collaboration, as well as creating more positive classroom climates.  I had a goal that year of doing one Community Gathering in every single classroom in my building before modeling instructional lessons.”

Jill Baker, District SEL Coach

The 2017 SEL Conference will feature opportunities to network and connect with local and national organizations, participate in more than 70 expert workshops and hear keynote speakers Tim Shriver, co-founder and board member of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, & Emotional Learning and Chairman of the Special Olympics, and teacher educator and author Zaretta Hammond, nationally recognized for her work on culturally responsive teaching.

Click here to register for the conference.

Check out this video of students from Meigs Middle School discussing their experience with SEL:

Metro Schools opens wellness center for all employees

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On May 18, Metro Schools celebrated the opening of its new MNPS Employee Wellness Center, which gives MNPS and Metro employees access to a state-of-the-art facility with expanded medical, therapy and behavioral health services, a full-service fitness center, a fully stocked onsite pharmacy and a healthy food café.

“We are looking to provide a more holistic experience for employees, with a major emphasis on wellness,” says Director of Benefits David Hines. “Enhanced clinical services is just one part of that. The goal is to provide a broader range of services, making it easier for employees to access the care they need at a more affordable cost than they can likely get elsewhere. And it will address other needs, such as providing early morning and late afternoon/early evening hours to better serve teachers and staff who want to visit the Center before or after work.”

Two nurse practitioners (NPs) will be available at the Center at all times to serve more patients than ever before. Care Coordinators Bobbi Nickel and Laura Vanderpool will be based at the new facility, but will continue to assist employees throughout the district. A physician medical director will assist the NPs in a consultative and support role. And an onsite psychiatric nurse practitioner will provide a range of behavioral health services, from counseling to medication management.  The Center will also have a referral coordinator. If a patient needs more services than the Center offers, such as specialist care or imaging, the coordinator can expedite a referral.
Wellness Center Offerings
Depending on the success of this Center, more facilities could be possible in the future — providing convenient access to employees who live and work in other areas of the county.

The Employee Wellness Center is a $7 million, 26,000 square-foot facility. All construction costs were funded by the savings incurred from the Teachers Health Plan, a self-funded medical plan for certificated employees, and the use of the MNPS Employee and Family Health Care Centers. No taxpayer dollars were used in funding this center.

The center is located at 2694 Fessey Court off Berry Road.

Check out photos from the event:

MNPS Next community meeting dates announced

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Last summer, Metro Nashville Public School leaders traveled across the county to learn about your hopes and dreams for our schools. Now, it is time for MNPS Next – our next step in taking those ideas to deliver great schools for our students.

We heard you when you told us that we need to reconsider how we use school buildings to offer academic programs and serve all students equitably. In the fall, Metro Schools will make recommendations to the Board of Education to do just that. But first, we want to hear from you.

Please join us for a community meeting this summer to give input on:

  • The grade structure of elementary and middle schools
  • The ways in which our school buildings support academic programs
  • Strategies for better distributing academic programs throughout our county
  • The availability of optional schools in the district
  • And more

THURSDAY, JUNE 15
5:30 P.M. | Food Served
6 – 7:30 P.M. | Program

Crewswell Middle Prep School of the Arts
3500 John Mallette Drive, Nashville, TN 37218

Spanish, Arabic and Somali interpretation
Child care

SATURDAY, JUNE 17
10 A.M. | Food Served
10:30 A.M. – 12 P.M. | Program

Cane Ridge High School
12848 Old Hickory Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37013

Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish, Somali, Nepali and Burmese interpretation
Child care

THURSDAY, JUNE 22
5:30 P.M. | Food Served
6 – 7:30 P.M. | Program

Hillsboro High School
3812 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215

Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish, Somali, Nepali and Burmese interpretation
Child care

SATURDAY, JUNE 24
10 A.M. | Food Served
10:30 A.M. – 12 P.M. | Program

Stratford Stem Magnet School
1800 Stratford Avenue, Nashville, TN 37216

Spanish, Arabic and Somali interpretation
Child care

Learn more about MNPS Next here.

#MNPSco2017: Jontae Meadows, Hume-Fogg Magnet High School

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When Jontae Meadows, a senior at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School, started high school, he faced struggles most students don’t. He was practically homeless and lacked the focus and fundamental skills he needed to be successful at an academic magnet.

When most students would use their difficult situation as a crutch or excuse, Jontae didn’t. His interest in young adult fiction and love of reading helped him persevere.

When Jontae entered his junior year, he started showing maturity, both personally and academically. He effectively used his study hall period, improved his grades and continued reading.

Jontae has maintained his motivation throughout his senior year and applied to multiple colleges. He will be graduating on May 16 and looks forward to going to college in the fall.

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#MNPSco2017: Robert Taylor, Middle College High School

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For his entire senior year, Robert Taylor, a senior at Middle College High School, has been living independently.

The summer before his senior year, Robert aged out of Department of Children Services custody, and since then he has been a part of the Independent Living Program with Monroe Harding.

“He is a very responsible, mature and determined young man,” said Chanta Hobson, his school counselor. “He is unlike any other senior I have known in my career.”

Despite his personal hardships, Robert has managed to have a successful senior year by taking care of all of his academic and personal responsibilities. This fall he will participate in the Volunteer Bridge Program, a program for students that will attend Pellissippi State Community College for their first year of college. He will then transfer to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the fall of 2018.

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#MNPSco2017: Abdulkarim Abbas, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

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Abdul and his family moved to the United States from Yemen in 2010 to escape the country’s devastating economic hardships.  Though he was still in middle school at the time, he took personal responsibility to learn to speak, read and write English.  He has always pursued the most rigorous curriculum he could successfully navigate, as he truly believes in the value of hard work and accepting challenges.  Though he can readily recall many days when he went home and cried because he was teased for not knowing the English language, he never let that “roadblock” dampen his optimism and enthusiasm for learning.

Abdul is a valued member of Pearl Cohn’s Academy of Entertainment Communication Broadcasting Team, and has developed advanced skills as a camera operator, editor, producer, and director.  He was nominated for a student Emmy Award for his work on “Justice,” a student-produced courtroom miniseries. He regularly creates both football and basketball television stories for broadcasts.  He is an outstanding soccer player, a community volunteer, and a dedicated employee of the Capitol Tower Market, where he stocks and serves as cashier.  His ability to speak both English and Arabic serves him well in his customer service-oriented job.

“Abdul’s resilience and dogged determination are well-known and admired by both peers and faculty,” said Connie Hensley,  a college and career counselor at Pearl-Cohn High School. His favorite quote is from Paul Brandt: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”  We have no doubt that Abdul will continue reaching for the moon!

Abdul graduated in the top five percent of his graduating class this year. During his senior year he enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and earned recognition for both perfect attendance and Honor Roll.  He will attend Belmont University next year on a full “Bridges to Belmont” scholarship.

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#MNPSco2017: Sharif Ezzeir, Overton High School

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Due to stressful family situations, Sharif Ezzeir, a senior at Overton High School, faced more obstacles than the average high school student.

In January, Sharif found himself without a place to live. A teacher helped him complete homeless paperwork and file for social service assistance to find an apartment and transportation to get to work.

Sharif secured a job so he could pay his rent and was introduced to William E. Cartagena-Vazquez, a staff sergeant in the United States Army. Meeting the staff sergeant sparked an interest in Sharif to join the army. He passed the ASVAB with flying colors and will serve in the United States Army after graduating.

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#MNPSco2017: Mohamed Muday, Stratford STEM Magnet High School

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Mohamed Muday, a senior at Stratford STEM Magnet, has taken the ACT four times in hopes of earning a score high enough to get into college. He has participated in multiple ACT prep courses and taken countless practice tests.

Despite his hard work, Mohamed scored the same low score the first three times he took the test. When most would be discouraged, Mohamed found the strength to push himself and keep trying.

Last fall Mohamed found more incentive to try even harder with the possibility of college becoming clearer. He dreamed of going to college and wrestling at the collegiate level.

In December, Mohamed got his fourth ACT test score back. He scored a 23 which opened many more doors for him. His dream of attending a four-year university became reality: Mohamed will attend Middle Tennessee State University this fall.

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