PHOTOS: MLK Magnet High dedicates new library to founding principal

Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School celebrated the opening of its new library with a dedication ceremony. The library was named after Dr. Samella Junior-Spence, the founding principal of the school and the first woman to serve as an executive principal in Metro Schools.

Dr. Junior-Spence founded MLK Jr. Magnet School in 1986 and served as the school’s principal until her retirement in 1997. MLK opened with 200 students, and by the time Dr. Junior-Spence retired, boasted an enrollment of 900 students.

Dr. Junior-Spence opened MLK in the same building as Nashville’s first African American high school – another school where Dr. Junior-Spence served as principal and became Davidson County’s first female high school principal. When Dr. Junior-Spence retired in 1997, she ended a 43-year-long career in various teaching and administrative roles that took her across Tennessee and Georgia.

In addition to education, Dr. Junior-Spence has been involved with the Nashville nonprofit community including the YWCA, United Way, Girls Scouts, March of Dimes and many others as well as leadership and professional organizations.

Dr. Junior-Spence graduated with honors from Spelman College in 1953, and she continued her education at Louisiana State University where she earned a master’s of music education. She went on to earn two doctorate degrees – one in theology from United Theological College and one in philosophy from the George Peabody College of Education.

View photos from the dedication below:

Honoring Metro Schools’ long-time employees for their service

A luncheon was recently held at the Martin Professional Development Center to honor Metro Schools employees who had served the district for 30 and 40 years.

Click here to see a list of the employees who were honored.

View photos from the event below:

Metro Schools students compete in regional STEM expo

Regional Stem Expo (1)

Eighty-five Metro Schools students participated in the 5th Annual Middle TN STEM Innovation Expo at Tennessee State University on April 7.

The students are part of G2ROW STEM, a Metro Schools i3 grant-funded program dedicated to growing STEM learning. The program consists of afterschool sessions, Saturday sessions and a two-week STEM summer camp. G2ROW STEM also offers mentors, hosts guest speakers and conducts field trips for its student participants.

The students entered a total of 23 projects in the competition and were awarded five gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals for their efforts.

“This program allows students to use their STEM assets and experiences to learn and apply key academic content, make informed decisions,  practice communication and collaboration, and use their critical thinking skills that will help them make informed decision,” Dr. Regina Etter, instructional lead coach for 17 STEM Metro Schools teachers, told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District in an interview.

The expo was judged by a group of technical experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District including Jimmy Waddle, Engineering and Construction Division chief; Ben Rohrbach, Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch chief; Mark Abernathy, Visual Information specialist; Lori Neubert, commander’s secretary; and David Bogema, civil engineer in the Water Management section.

Read more about the expo here.

It pays to be a substitute in Metro Schools


Effective Friday, March 31, all substitute teachers in Metro Schools received a pay increase. This pay increase makes our substitute teacher workforce the highest paid in our region.

“We recognize that our substitute employees play an integral part in educating the students of MNPS,” said Amber Tyus, director of temporary placement for Metro Schools. “They work to maintain excellence in the classrooms, offices, and schools and we want to recognize those efforts.”

As we continue to deliver on the words of our mission: ‘a great public education to every student, every day,’ it’s important that we recognize the impact of our substitute employees. Our substitute teachers are vital part of our organization that work everyday across the district to ensure all students receive a great education – even when their teacher is out of the classroom.

“Thankfully, we are under leadership who understands that a part of recruiting and retaining quality educators includes making pay adjustments that will keep us competitive, especially in our growing city,” added Tyus. “We are excited not only about what is on the horizon for our substitute employees, but what is it come for our district as a whole.”

To learn more about becoming a substitute in Metro Schools, visit

2017 Sports Hall of Fame class inducted

P1090334Eight athletes were inducted into the 2017 Metro Schools Sports Hall of Fame on April 11. We applaud their achievements in athletics, in business and service to others, and we thank them for years of inspiration and motivation!

They have each earned a place in Nashville history, and we proudly celebrate them:

Catherine Miller-Bowers, Whites Creek High School, Class of 1982

2BAD6F9C-6FFA-4ECF-9CD3-E23BF3C87BF4Catherine Miller-Bowers is a 1982 MNPS graduate of Whites Creek Comprehensive High School.  Catherine Miller-Bowers excelled in basketball, cross-country and track.  Bowers was the 1982 state track champion in the 100m hurdles and was ranked nationally as a top 10 All-American.

She was the 1982 Pentathlon Champion and her record is still standing. In basketball, she was  selected All-District and All-Region in her senior year. Bowers attended Arizona State University, where she received numerous awards that included being ranked top 10 in the PAC-10 Conference and NCAA Division I Championship in the 400m hurdles and the triple jump.

In 1987, Bowers had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant coach at Arizona State University where she had the privilege to coach several outstanding athletes for the 1988 Summer Olympics. She is currently working for Metro Schools and coaching track and field at Hume Fogg Academic High School.

Tim Dobbins, Glencliff High School, Class of 2001

tim-dobbins-football-headshot-photoTim Dobbins is a graduate of Glencliff High School and helped lead the Colts to the 1999 TSSAA Class 5A Champion Runner-Up. He was picked by the Tennessee Sports Writers’ Association as a first team All-State Linebacker during his senior year in 2001.

After graduation from GHS, he attended Copiah- Lincoln Community College in 2002-2003 and  made all Mississippi Association of Community &  Junior College (MACJC) Team both years. Dobbins then attended Iowa State University, where he earned all-Big 12 honors in his senior season. He led the Cyclones to the Houston Bowl in 2005 and to the Independence Bowl in 2004.

Dobbins was selected by the San Diego Chargers 151st overall in the 5th round of the 2006 NFL Draft. During his professional career, Dobbins played with Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys. He is an All American football linebacker whose career NFL statistics as of 2013 included 253 tackles, two quarterback sacks, 12 passes defensed and three interceptions. Dobbins is currently a free agent.

Charlie Fentress, Cohn High School, Class of 1955

IMG_20170308_133659Charlie Fentress graduated from Cohn High School in 1955. Fentress was an all-around athlete who excelled in three sports in particular – football, basketball and baseball. He also had a great collegiate career at Belmont College, where he attended on basketball and baseball scholarships. After college, Fentress continued his athletic career by playing in Nashville’s City League and Tri-State leagues.

After college, Fentress went on to serve our city as a firefighter with the Metro Fire Department and retired with 38 years of service.

There were many accomplishments during his playing and coaching tenure. From 1952-1955, Fentress was named to the All District team, Tennessean All-State Basketball team, Banner All-Nashville team, NIL Basketball Champion, team captain, and Banner Weekly All-Nashville. He was co-captain of the football team and was All City Team for this sport as well. He also played baseball and was a member of the TSSAA Regional Baseball Champions and received Banner All-City Baseball Team for three years. Fentress participated in track one year. He was voted Most Athletic Senior Superlative and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

After high school, Fentress played basketball and baseball for four years at Belmont College and was Basketball MVP and Honorable Mention Basketball College All-Mid State Team.

Fentress also received many awards for his post-college play in the Gilbert League Baseball and City League Baseball leagues. This past January, the prestigious Nashville Old Timers Baseball Association inducted Charlie Fentress into the Nashville Amateur Baseball hall of Fame.

Chris Gaines, DuPont High School, Class of 1983

CHRIS Gaines HEAD SHOTA multi-talented football and basketball standout  at DuPont High school, Chris Gaines developed  into one of the most fierce and successful  linebackers in SEC history at Vanderbilt. Gaines  played quarterback and defensive end at DuPont  High for most of his high school football career.  At halftime of the first game his senior season, he
was switched from quarterback to tailback and  rushed for 200 yards in the second half. It was the beginning of a dominating season in which Gaines was virtually unstoppable at tailback as DuPont’s power run game blossomed into Nashville’s most feared gridiron force.

Another position change in college sparked a record-breaking career at Vanderbilt. Recruited as a fullback, the Commodores switched Gaines to linebacker after a redshirt freshman year. As linebacker, Gaines dominated. He was elected captain his senior season of 1987, and he still holds several Vanderbilt records for most tackles in a game and in a season. Gaines wreaked havoc on college offenses with an amazing 214 tackles, including 136 solo tackles, four sacks, nine tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. His 214 tackles (an astonishing 19.5 tackles per game) is still the SEC record. He also still holds the Vanderbilt record for most tackles in a game with 37 against Tulane. Perhaps even more impressive is that he played every defensive snap of every game his senior year.

Following the 1987 season, Gaines was named to the Kodak All-American First Team, First Team All-SEC by the AP and UPI, Vanderbilt Athlete of the Year, and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Amateur Athlete of the Year. He participated in the Blue-Gray Bowl, a college all-star game where he finished with 18 tackles and was named MVP. Gaines was also Academic All-SEC in 1986 and has been recognized as one of the SEC Football Legends.

Drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals, Gaines played for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, where he intercepted six passes in 1991 and tied the franchise record for most tackles in a season. His team won the Grey Cup Championship.

Following his playing career, Gaines coached for the Toronto Argonauts and then
for Vanderbilt, where he was named SEC Linebackers Coach of the Year.
Gaines presently serves as owner, president and CEO of CD Medical, Inc.,
a medical sales business.

Walter “Bugs” Jordan, Stratford High School, Class of 1975

Walter Bugs JordanWalter (Bugs) Jordan played football and basketball at Hillwood High School from 1971 – 1972 before transferring to Stratford High School from 1972 – 1975.  At Stratford, Jordan played football as a safety, wide receiver and running back, and also played basketball and baseball.

Jordan was selected to the All NIL football teams  for both his junior and senior years. In his final  year at Stratford, Jordan was the recipient of the Lonnie Matthews Award recognizing outstanding sportsmanship and leadership presented by the Stratford School Men’s Club. He was also selected to the TSSAA West All-Star Football Team and elected as Senior Class President for the Class of 1975.

Jordan was recruited to Vanderbilt University by Bill Parcells, a Commodore assistant at the time, and went on to be a three-year starting cornerback from 1976 – 1979.

In 1979, he was named to the Tennessean High School NIL All-Decade Team as a defensive back.

Since graduating college, Jordan has enjoyed a rewarding career with Ally Financial(formally known as G.M.A.C.) for the past 36 years. This career has taken him from Nashville to several locations in Maryland, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. Jordan currently resides in Tinley Park, Illinois with his wife, Theresa.

Jeffery O. Powell, Whites Creek High School, Class of 1981

Jeff Powell picJeffery Powell was a standout athlete in both high school and college. He graduated from Whites Creek High School and attended the College of William & Mary and later transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he graduated in 1985.

While at Whites Creek, Powell received numerous honors, including being a member of the 400-meter relay team that tied the national high school record, 6 time all-American, 110-meter high hurdles Tennessee State champion, 300-meter intermediate hurdles Tennessee State Champion, Adidas All-American, Banner Trackman of the Year, William P. Lawrence Award winner, plus many more. He also holds the state record in 110-meter high hurdles

In college, Powell continued to achieve accolades by being a member of the U.S. Jr. Pan-American team. He was a silver medalist in the Jr. Pan-Am games in Venezuela (110 meter high hurdles), named to the U.S. Jr. World Team, a gold medalist in the Jr. World Games in Seoul, Korea, and Virginia Collegiate State Champion. Powell set a record at Williams & Mary in the 300 meter and 50 yard dash. He also set an East Coast record in the 55 meter high hurdle. He was on the 1985 SEC Championship teams for track and football. In 1986, he was a sixth round draft pick in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.

In 1992, Powell graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School. His hobbies are golfing and fishing.

“I’ve has a lot of accomplishments in my athletic career, but being inducted into the Metro Nashville Public Schools sports HOF stands a cut above as one of my most cherished,” Powell says.

Joe Shapiro, Alabama, Posthumously

Joe Shapiro picCoach Joe Shapiro graduated from the University of Oklahoma in the 1930’s and returned to Nashville to work on his Masters from Peabody College. He then took a position in Winterboro, Alabama, where he taught and coached in the 1940’s and started coaching at Talladega High School. He had two State Championship football teams there, one in 1945 and the other in 1946.

In 1947 he returned to Nashville and was teacher and Coach at Peabody Demonstration School before going to West End High School. He taught a class and coached at West from 1950 – 1968 when the school was changed to a Junior High. During those years, he was head Coach for football, basketball and baseball, while teaching young men at school who were willing to give their all to practice and play their games he taught. He was always fair in his coaching and left unblemished legacy for all young men to follow.

He had many accomplishments during his coaching career. They are as follows: Basketball – 360 wins, 156 losses (5 District, 2 NIL, 1 Regional and 1 State Championships; Football – 43 wins and 35 losses (2 State Championships); Baseball – Wins 44 and 8 losses (2 NIL and 2 Regional Championships, 1 State Runner-up)

Sam Smith, Jim Hill High School, Class of 1964, Posthumously

Coach Sam SmithSam Smith was born in Canton, Mississippi, and graduated from Jim Hill High School in Jackson. Upon graduation, Smith attended and graduated from Tennessee State University. He is a member of MNEA, TEA, TSSAA, American Coaches Association, and USATF youth chair for the State of Tennessee. Coach Smith has been a McDonald’s Coach of the Year honoree. He is a personal trainer and a member of 15th Ave. Baptist Church, where he teaches Sunday school.

Early in his career, Smith was the head girls’ track coach, assistant football coach and taught health and physical education at Whites Creek High School. He also served as the head girls’ soccer coach. Later, he taught biology served as head baseball coach at North High School, as well as assistant football coach, and taught biology. Smith later became a trainer and the assistant women’s track coach at Tennessee State University (TSU) under the famous Coach Ed Temple. In 2004, he won the USA Track & Field award and recognition from the National Youth Coaches Association.

In 1988, Smith served as head coach of the United States Men & Women’s Para-Olympics’ track and field teams in Seoul, Korea. In 1990, he was the manager of the South Women’s Olympic Festival track team in Minneapolis. In 1991, he was the head track coach for South Women’s Olympic Festival and Track team in Los Angeles. He is president/founder, head track coach and fundraiser of the Continental T-Belle track club, which is a non-profit helping girls from the Middle Tennessee area develop track skills. He has been the head track & field coach for the Tennessee Amputee team and spent eight years at TSU with the National Youth Sports Program.

Smith serves as director of All Comers Track Meet & South Regional Track & Field Championship. He’s an official in the Track & Field Association (TN National Masters), basketball referee, softball umpire, TN Amputee official, president of USA track & field youth coaches. Coach Smith has championship records dating from 1982 to present. He says, “there is no shortcut to Success.”

Congratulations to the 2017 Sports Hall of Fame inductees!

Overton High School celebrates construction progress

John Overton High School held an event to celebrate progress of the construction additions and renovations currently happening at the school. The library and cafeteria were recently completed, and the rest of the school’s construction will be finished in 2018. The project is estimated to be 267,000 square feet.

Speakers at the event included Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, Metro Nashville Board of Public Education District 3 Board Member Dr. JoAnn Brannon, District 34 Metro  Councilwoman Angie Henderson, District 26 Metro Councilman Jeremy Elrod and Overton High School Principal Dr. Jill Pittman.

Guests enjoyed a musical performance by Overton students, toured the school and were able to see illustrations of the renovation plans.

Check out photos from the event:

Dr. Joseph delivers State of Schools address

33827974681_3cb3a1120e_o (1)Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph unveiled the district’s new strategic direction, budget priorities and the developing plan for the future of Metro Schools today in his first State of Schools Address.

This new chapter to the Metro Schools story focuses on students, employees, the organization and community as the framework for the district’s strategic plan.

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“Nashville, this is our moment. We can’t hold back. We need to reach deeply within ourselves for our children. We have a plan. And we have a determined spirit,” Joseph said.

He also drew thunderous applause from the more than 500 attendees for his remarks regarding equity and access to advanced academic programs.  “We need to send a message that all students are an asset to our community, regardless of their race, ethnicity, country of origin or who their parents are. Every child … deserves equitable chances to succeed in life.”

Here are some highlights from the address:


  • An additional $3.4 million to support literacy. “This is the greatest civil right we can give our children – the ability to read, speak and comprehend,” Joseph said.
  • A Literacy Teacher Development Specialist for every school, who will model instruction for teachers in their buildings and spend time in their classes helping them find ways to make their instruction more effective and personalized to meet the needs of our children.
  • An additional $5.7 million on services for English Language Learners.
  • Hiring more than 30 new English Language Learner teachers to accommodate the growing population of students and equip them with necessary professional development and supports that they need.
  • Expanding wrap-around services and family supports for English Language Learner students, including things such as more after-school tutoring, more summer school opportunities, and nearly 20 new translators so that language isn’t a barrier for New American parents to be informed and engaged in their child’s education.
  • Transforming middle schools by investing $5.9 million in the first of a three-year implementation plan to make every middle school a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) school, with new  instructional practices and curricula – and exciting projects and lessons – that will inspire more of Metro Schools students to greater heights.
  • Placing Advanced Academic Resource Teachers in every elementary and middle school to bring greater equity and access to services for accelerated and gifted learners. “… Zip codes shouldn’t limit our students’ access to challenging programs. Potential can live anywhere. Smart kids can live anywhere,” Joseph said.


  • $23 million dollars next year to elevate employee pay across the board – with a three percent cost-of-living adjustment and a step increase on all salary schedules.
  • Investments in Metro Schools’ principal development pipeline, as well as additional capacity in the Human Resources and Talent Services department to adequately support employee recruitment and retention.


  • The Metro Schools strategic framework lays out the vision, mission, values, goals, strategies, and high-level actions that write the next chapter as a school district.
  • “Executing on this strategic plan will require excellence and accountability at all levels of our organization. Excellence should describe everything that we do, and we should accept nothing less because our children deserve nothing less,” Joseph said. “As we’ve demonstrated in this first nine months, we won’t be afraid to course correct. Going forward, we have to know where we are – in reference to where we need to be – in order to gauge our progress and know when we need to change course.”
  • The next phase of the district’s planning includes defining metrics to measure success, setting targets, developing a reporting timeline, and developing project and action plans.


  • The entire Nashville community will be needed to help Metro Schools implement its priorities.
  • Collaboration with families, the business community, the public charter schools are areas the district recognizes must be strengthened. “We will put structures where that collaboration can be fostered much stronger than we’ve done before,” Joseph said.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Learn more about the strategic plan here.

Metro Schools students participate in student panel at discipline conference


Students from Glencliff High School, Hillsboro High School and Jere Baxter Middle Prep participated in a youth panel for the 2017 Student Discipline Institute in Murfreesboro on March 1–2.

The students that participated were Kenneth Evans (Glencliff), Tania Loresa Garcia (Glencliff), Maurilio Perez (Glencliff), Bailey Fann (Hillsboro), Mikita McKinnon (Hillsboro) and Decassius Begley (Jere Baxter).

The Metro Schools students sat on a panel to answer questions and provide insight to administrators from a student perspective. The students received very positive feedback from the participants.

Here are some of comments:

“The youth panel was excellent!”

“I thought the youth panel was an outstanding way to close the conference. It provided powerful examples of the positive impact of restorative practices.”

“This convening was outstanding. The youth panel was an outstanding addition. This session with the youth was very insightful.”

The conference was attended by district and building-level administrators responsible for student discipline. The event provided a comprehensive overview of legal and procedural issues and practices related to student discipline, as well as the latest legal developments in areas such as student searches, special education discipline and state and national trends on alternatives to suspension.

Metro Schools teacher named Region-level Finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year

Cicely Woodard

Congratulations are in order! Cicely Woodard, an eighth grade math teacher at West End Middle Prep, was named a 2017-2018 Region-level Finalist for Teacher of the Year.

Woodard was selected from a pool of 16 school districts to represent the Mid-Cumberland region in the Grades 5-8 category.

Woodard is one of 27 Region-level Finalists who will now compete to be named one of nine Region-level teachers of the year. Those nine teachers will be recognized at a banquet this fall and serve on the Teacher Advisory Council for Commissioner Candice McQueen. Of those nine finalists, one will be named the 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year.

“Being named a Region-level Finalist for Teacher of the Year means that I have the opportunity to represent teachers all over our district who show up every day at school ready to inspire, motivate, and challenge students to be successful learners,” said Woodard. “I believe that our children deserve caring adults who are passionate about education and about preparing them for the future. I believe in the power of education to open doors and change lives.”

Woodard earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University. She has been teaching in Nashville at the middle school level since 2003.

We are so proud to have Woodard representing Metro Schools!

Metro Schools makes changes to elementary school report cards


Today elementary school students will bring home report cards that will look slightly different from what has been sent home earlier this school year. The report cards for the third and fourth nine weeks’ grading period have been revised.

The revisions are listed below.

  • Revisions to Standards: These revisions were made to ensure that the grades reported on the report card are based on the Tennessee State Standards. It is important that the grades that appear on the report card are reflective of what is being taught and assessed in class.
  • Modifications or Accommodations: If your child receives any modifications or accommodations in English Language Arts, mathematics, social studies, or science, these will be noted on the report card in each section.
  • Absences and Tardies: These are now reported in full day units. The report card will show absences and tardies as whole numbers. For example, if your child is absent for more than half of a school day, it will be reported as a full day.
  • Parent Signature: Your child’s teacher may request that you sign the report card and return it to school with your child. This is to help ensure that you received and reviewed the report card. There is a place for a parent’s signature for this purpose.

You can also view the changes here.

These revisions are intended to improve and enhance our ability to provide transparent
information related to students’ progress in school. If you have any questions about these revisions, please contact your child’s teacher or call the Family Information Center at 615-259-4636.

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