Category Archives: director of schools

Swearing-in ceremony marks new term for Board of Education representatives

The Metro Schools Board of Education held a swearing-in ceremony at its Sept. 6 board meeting. The ceremony marks the beginning of a term for the newly elected board member and affirms the roles and responsibilities for all board representatives.


The ceremony welcomed a new member to the Board: Christiane Buggs, District 5. Buggs is succeeding Elissa Kim, who had decided not to run for re-election.

Four returning members also renewed their relationships: Dr. Sharon Gentry, District 1; Jill Speering, District 3; Will Pinkston, District 7; and Amy Frogge, District 9.

The oaths were administered by Judge Rachel Bell and Judge Shelia Calloway. Dr. Shawn Joseph and other Board members were also in attendance.

More than just homework: using data to take learning beyond school hours

When most people think of learning outside of the classroom, they think of homework. They think of the time spent struggling to solve a certain math problem or having to read a certain number of chapters a night.

But what if it could be more? More beneficial for students. More fit for individual needs. More fun than homework.

Metro Schools is collaborating with the incredible Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) to take after-school programs to the next level. Together, we’re focusing on extended learning that targets each student’s needs. This collaboration is an innovative practice, and it shows that positive changes can happen when two different learning institutions collaborate.

What does that mean?

Metro teachers and principals use student data to gain insight into each student’s needs and tailor instruction to them. We’re also sharing some of that insight with NAZA so they can continue the learning process and give students the right supports after school. It’s a partnership that uses school data to figure out what types of after-school programs are the right fit for different children.

How does it work?

Metro Schools has given NAZA staff limited access to information about students, including information about school attendance, their behavior in school and their grades and coursework.

Limited access means that only certain people who work for NAZA are allowed to view certain information about students based on the role they have in the after-school program. For instance, a math tutor would have access to a student’s math grades and reading tutors would be able to see the reading level of students in their program. Only the data needed by NAZA staff is shared.

NAZA also shares the data and knowledge they learn with the students’ schools. This includes which students are participating in which programs.

So, how is this helping?

  • It’s more beneficial for students.
    It aligns with Dr. Joseph’s goal of matching students with interventions that fit their specific needs. Through this type of partnership, Metro Schools and NAZA can focus more on what students need instead of just offering a one-size-fits-all program.
  • It’s more fit for individual needs.
    School staff have access to the afterschool program enrollment information. This gives them the chance to suggest programs for certain children based on each child’s specific needs.

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.

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.

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.



Metro teachers to receive significant salary increase as a result of new pay scale

Metro Nashville Public Schools has unveiled a new salary scale for certificated employees that will result in significant pay increases for many teachers, particularly those with five to 10 years of experience. The new salary scale aligns MNPS salaries with regional market data at key points throughout a teacher’s career.

All Metro teachers can look forward to a salary increase on their next paycheck. The new fiscal year budget that started on July 1 includes $10.25 million in additional teacher pay – $3 million more than budgeted last year. Teachers will receive a salary step increase and benefit from the revised pay scale. The operating budget for 2016-17 also includes $2.7 million for support employees to receive step increases on the pay schedule.

“By far, teachers have the most direct impact on individual student success of all the employees in a school system. In order to achieve excellence by design in every classroom every day, we have to have the best and the brightest educators. While culture and leadership also play important roles in teacher recruitment and retention, competitive salaries are absolutely essential,” said Dr. Shawn Joseph, Director of Metro Schools. “I am pleased that our Board prioritized increasing teacher pay in this year’s budget, and I am grateful to Mayor Megan Barry and the Metro Council for funding the request.”

Salaries for new teachers in Nashville have been competitive for the last five years, following a significant increase to starting teacher pay in 2011. However, no other major changes have been made to the district’s pay scale since that time. For the last several years, Metro Schools has instituted across-the-board pay increases in lieu of salary step increases.

The complete pay scales for certificated and support staff were shared via email with employees. Metro Schools employees can access the pay scales online.


Key Highlights of Pay Scale Differences
Step (Years of Experience) (Old) FY15-16 Pay Scale for Teachers with a Bachelors’ Degree (New) FY16-17 Pay Scale for Teachers with a Bachelors’ Degree
0-8 $42,082.10 (no variation other than across-the-board increases in recent years) Ranges from $42,100 for starting teachers to $44,750 for teachers with nine years of experience
10 $44,536.45 $47,000


The MNPS 3rd Annual Enrollment Fair is Saturday, July 16 at the Global Mall

Need to help your child enroll, transfer, withdrawal, get a sports physical or immunizations? This is the event to get everything done in one place!

The MNPS 3rd Annual Enrollment Fair will be held on Saturday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Global Mall, 5252 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Antioch 37013.

All students enrolling will receive a MNPS drawstring backpack and other awesome giveaways.

Check out the flyer below: 2016-17_EnrollmentFair_Flyer-page-001.jpg

PHOTOS: Metro Schools, Mayor Megan Barry and the Nashville Public Library encourage summer reading


Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph greets a little reader at the Nashville Public Library after a July 5 news conference. 

Metro Schools, the Mayor’s Office and the Nashville Public Library held a joint press conference Tuesday, July 5, addressing a shared commitment to boost literacy in Nashville. The conference took place in the Children’s reading area at the Downtown Public Library and was attended by Metro Schools’ staff, members of the Board of Education, local reading and education advocacy programs and various other community leaders.

Mayor Megan Barry, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph, and Nashville Public Library Board Member Joyce Searcy delivered the messages and handed out books provided by Book’Em to children in attendance. Book’Em is a Nashville nonprofit committed to distributing tens of thousands of books each year to economically disadvantaged children.

In beginning his new position with Metro Schools, Dr. Joseph has shared the urgency he feels for addressing areas of need, but this time he specifically referred to urgency with literacy advocacy—especially during these critical summer months.

“We cannot put learning aside for two months by taking a break on reading,” Dr. Joseph said. “Reading is the foundation of all other learning, so we must take advantage of the tremendous educational resources available in Nashville to support our students.”

Mayor Megan Barry shares that same urgency, speaking on the importance of the dollars added to this year’s budget—specifically designated to support literacy efforts. The funds were added to the public libraries as well as to the reading programs in Metro Schools.

Dr. Joseph also called on families to make reading a priority at home so it becomes second nature to a child and for the community to rally around those efforts. He did not speak lightly about this call to action, referring to literacy as a top focus on the list of Metro Schools’ “great and complex” challenges. All speakers at the library event asked that the community come together in the spirit of collaboration to move the dialogue forward, including Metro teachers.

Since it was Dr. Joseph’s second official day of work, the event was Dr. Joseph and Mayor Barry’s first opportunity to lead a press conference side-by-side. Both look forward to working together and campaigning for public education. Mayor Barry’s last words hit on her hopes for the new director of schools

“I am thrilled to go on this adventure together,” Mayor Barry said speaking to Dr. Joseph, “If you are successful, our children are successful.”

Metro Schools has compiled a list of literacy resources for families, students and teachers on Below are two opportunities from NPL:

NPL Summer Challenge
Students can sign up for the Summer Challenge to log reading hours over the summer to earn prizes. Each branch will draw for prizes like iPad minis and a trip to Dollywood. Mayor Barry has even offered up the chance to be Student Mayor for a Day.


Limitless Library Summer Reading Lists (K-12)
Limitless Library is a resource sharing program created from a partnership between the Nashville Public Library and Metro Schools to improve student access to learning materials. The Limitless Library site has popular summer “must reads” and required school reading lists.

Read more about these programs and more extended learning resources at

See more photos from the news conference below:

Dr. Shawn Joseph Announces Three Key Leadership Appointments

Today, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph announced the hiring of three new team members in Metro Schools who will lead high-need initiatives to serve students and families – two previously existing and one newly created.

  • Moreno Carrasco – Executive Officer for Priority Schools
  • Dennis Queen – Executive Officer for Charter Schools
  • Maritza González – Executive Officer for Diversity and Equity

“These are three of our highest need areas, and it’s important we get strong leaders to take charge of them right away,” said Dr. Joseph. “I feel a sense of urgency in getting these positions filled because we need fresh perspectives. I am very fortunate to have worked with hundreds of great educators over my career and have access to a national network of talent. It’s nice to be able to draw upon that network now to take on some of the biggest issues facing our schools. All three are strong additions to Team MNPS.

“When I hire people to be on my team, I look for evidence of proven leadership which has resulted in increased student performance, a passion for equity and excellence and the ability to connect with people to inspire higher levels of commitment from their teams. Mr. Carrasco, Mr. Queen and Dr. González are three home run hires. They are committed to supporting us as we work to improve educational outcomes for the children of Metro Schools for years to come.”

Moreno Carrasco, Executive Officer for Priority Schools

Carrasco HeadsotMoreno Carrasco has been tapped to lead the district’s efforts to improve and turnaround its lowest-performing schools. He comes from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where he worked in the Office for School Support and Improvement as the head of leadership development both in schools and the central office. His work gave him deep experience in organizational change and strategic planning for improving school performance and classroom instruction. Prior to working in district administration, Carrasco worked as a principal in two Montgomery County schools, where he led successful turnarounds and raised student achievement, particularly among African American and Latino students. In 2007, he won the Met Life High School Principal of the Year award for the state of Maryland, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“Moreno is one of the strongest school leaders I have worked with,” said Dr. Joseph, “and he brought that drive for serving students to the district-level, too. He can be a coach, a strategist and a mentor, which is exactly what our highest priority schools need. He learned firsthand what it takes to bring real change and improvement to a school, and he uses that knowledge to develop talents in others.”

Dennis Queen, Executive Officer for Charter Schools

Dennis Queen HeadshotDennis Queen is an experienced education leader whose career has taken him from police officer to teacher to executive consultant to district leader. He most recently worked in Charlotte-Mecklenberg as a community superintendent and prior to that as a regional superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Between both jobs, he supported school improvement efforts in 65 schools with success in raising academic achievement and lowering discipline incidents. In that work, Queen also gained experience working alongside area charter schools. He also spent 11 years as a school principal with significant academic gains in each school he led.

“We have 30 charter schools in Nashville, which is larger than many stand alone school districts,” said Dr. Joseph. “They serve thousands of our neediest students and are an important part of the fabric of Metro Schools. Dennis has worked as a regional superintendent in two different districts, and that’s essentially what I want from him here. He will lead this specific subset of schools with the same collaborative and strategic approach that brought him success in Wisconsin and North Carolina. Luckily, he’s starting with a strong foundation of processes and schools so that we can build on our relationships and begin planning for the future.”

 Dr. Maritza González, Executive Officer for Diversity and Equity

Maritza GonzalezIn the newly created position of executive officer for diversity and equity, Dr. Maritza González will touch every department in Metro Schools with a focus on creating greater equity and access for academic programs and services. She will serve as a guiding force for decisions across the district, ensuring they are made with the needs of all students in mind.

“This is a new position for Metro Schools, but it is a sorely needed one,” said Dr. Joseph. “I want Maritza involved in everything. Family engagement, zoning, academic interventions, communications, school choice – everything gets better when you look at it through the lens of diversity. This district has prioritized diversity, and that’s commendable. We need to make sure our practice matches our philosophy.”

Dr. González has the experience to cover that broad range. She moved to the United States from El Salvador when she was six years old and holds a variety of degrees in international business, communication, education and policy. She is an expert in family and community partnerships and has experience in curriculum design for diverse learners. In 2010, she was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Universal Design for Learning.

“Maritza held a similar position to this in Prince George’s County where we faced a growing population of Latino students whose needs weren’t being met,” said Dr. Joseph. “I want her perspective in Nashville so that every family feels included and no one feels invisible.”

All three will officially begin work tomorrow, Friday, July 1.

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