Category Archives: News

Vanderbilt’s SSMV looking for Metro Schools eighth graders interested in launching a career in math and science

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Vanderbilt University’s School for Science and Math (SSMV) four-year program gives high school students interested in math and science the opportunity to get hands-on experience and accelerate them toward their career. Grayson, a senior at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School, is in his final year in the program and credits the SSMV with preparing him for the next chapter.

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“The SSMV is such a unique opportunity,” Grayson said. “Not only do students get to excel in a highly academic scientific environment, we build communication and collaboration skills, which are extremely valuable in the professional world. Instructors at the SSMV work extremely hard to prepare us for life outside of the lab and outside of high school, and we learn skills that many high schoolers don’t realize they need.”

The program is currently accepting applications from eighth-grade students at Metro Schools. The School for Science and Math, formed through a partnership between Vanderbilt University and MNPS, offers high schools students an interdisciplinary, research-centered learning experience under Vanderbilt’s leadership in scientific studies. The deadline for applications is Friday, Feb. 9.

For more information and to apply for the program, visit the SSMV website.

Hume-Fogg students join Mayor Barry’s sustainability plan with Livable Schools initiative

While most high school students use their lunch time as a chance to relax and chat with friends, nine high school seniors at Hume-Fogg Magnet High School meet in the library to strategize a more sustainable school and eventually a more sustainable Nashville.

These students are part of the Livable Schools initiative, a companion program of Livable Nashville, Mayor Barry’s sustainability plan for the city of Nashville. They have aligned their program to mirror the Mayor’s plan for the city. Students lead different committees with specific sustainability goals: mobility, waste reduction and recycling, natural resources, green buildings and climate and energy. The students are the real agents of change, and they are starting from the ground up and talking to their peers face-to-face about the future of Nashville.

These students aren’t just involved in the Livable Schools initiative – they created this organization after taking a school trip to the Southern Environmental Law Center. One of the group founders, student Alex Hines, remembers asking himself why students aren’t doing anything to help impact change and instead of letting it be a passing thought – he did something about it.

“I thought, without schools this initiative is incomplete—schools would help fill the gaps,” Hines said. “I also realized there was an absence of environmental education in high schools, so that is when we came up with the outreach part of our plan to using social media and other mediums to influence actual curriculum in schools across the district.”

With the guidance of their librarian, Amanda Smithfield, the students reached out to Urban Green Lab, a Metro Schools community partner that teaches communities how to live sustainable, healthy lives, to help the club make a plan of action.

“Hume-Fogg has really stepped up to the plate to really lead as an institution on that program,” Todd Lawrence, the executive director of the Urban Green Lab, said. “Our job is to move the program forward, keep it organized and make connections with important stakeholders in the community.”

One of the group’s goals, aside from creating their own school initiatives, is to visit other MNPS high schools and encourage students in the district to start their own programs. In the future, they plan to develop a steering committee with other schools so that everyone can be involved in creating a sustainable plan that can be duplicated.

Hume-Fogg students are taking a big plan that can be hard to comprehend and showing their fellow students how they can make a small, personal change that could affect Nashville for years to come — a great example of a collective action achieved at a local level. They are organized, passionate and self-motivated, and ready to use that energy to encourage others and find solutions.

 

The Hume-Fogg program is also part of a wider effort across the district from the MNPS Facility and Maintenance Department to encourage schools to lower their energy bills. Each month, Central Office provides principals with their power costs for the month and their improvements from the month before. Weekly tips are provided to principals about sustainable best practices for energy conservation. Work continues to expand this project and updates will be shared throughout the spring.

Both Smithfield and the Urban Green Lab representatives are important to the initiatives’ growth but give all the credit to the students and are in awe of their excitement and interest in the project.

“We can’t wait to see what this group of kids can do,” Lawrence said.

And neither can the rest of MNPS and the city of Nashville.

#MNPSVoices: Whitney Slovick, Community Achieves Program Specialist

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Whitney Slovick’s holiday sweater is a representation of the Support Services department – spunky, creative and the epitome of teamwork. Slovick can name exactly which one of her coworkers inspired each idea for her award-winning sweater —she was just the canvas. The department, comprised of areas such as counseling, student health and social emotional learning, is made up of individuals who work hard on whatever tasks they face – even the challenge of transforming a sweater into a holiday table for entry into an Ugly Sweater Contest. 

As a Community Achieves program specialist, Slovick works as a liaison between the district’s Central Office and the Community Achieves schools. The program is a district-led initiative that supports the development of full-service community schools by using partnerships to provide needed resources for students.  

“I know the trials and tribulations of the community school model at the ground level so I can bring that knowledge back to the district office where decisions are made,” Slovick said. “I have a birds-eye view so when I meet with community partners I have a better idea of what our schools need.” 

Slovick said her job at times can be emotional, and this past holiday season was one of those times when she witnessed many acts of generous giving from MNPS’ dedicated community partners. Her favorite, of many donations, was at Buena Vista Elementary School, in which a community partner adopted the entire school for the holidays providing each student with multiple, festively wrapped presents. 

“The best part was seeing the gifts lined up and watching the students run in by grade to open their surprises. They were so excited by every part of the process,” Slovick said. “I could not leave that joy…I stayed there longer than I expected—it was the most heartwarming day.” 

The Community Achieves framework has been in MNPS schools for several years now, and the goal is to replicate the framework across the district. This year, Slovick and the rest of her team hope to continue the work toward building clear processes that align community partners with the needs of Metro Schools.  

Like many people who enjoy their work, Slovick also understands the importance of taking time to wind down from her day-to-day responsibilities. The Chicago native is an avid runner who participates in Ragnar relay races, overnight races in which participants run anywhere from 11 to 25 miles. Slovick ran her first Ragnar race last summer in New Hampshire and now has her sights set on the Chattanooga to Nashville Ragnar relay this spring.  

If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.

Learn About Metro Schools’ Inclement Weather Policy

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You’ve probably heard the many different tricks about how to get a snow day – old fables like sleeping with your pajamas on inside out, flushing ice cubes down the toilet and placing a spoon under your pillow – and you probably have a few tricks of your own.

So, what will happen if these wishful snow practices come true and school is either delayed or canceled due to inclement weather? Metro Schools has a multi-tiered process in place to ensure all parents, families and students are well aware of any changes to the regular school day. As we turn the corner into an unpredictable Tennessee winter, it’s time to review our inclement weather policy.

Student safety is the district’s primary concern and is the only priority in situations of inclement weather. In the event of inclement weather that causes a delay or a cancellation:

  • We’ll update social media and our website. Follow us on Twitter @metroschools and like our MNPS Facebook Page for immediate updates. Our website, www.mnps.org, will also be updated with information about delays or closings. Social media gives the district the ability to quickly share information, so make sure you’re following along!
  • You’ll get a phone call. Parents, families and staff will receive a phone call with any delay or cancellation information. If MNPS chooses to close school during the overnight hours, parents and families will receive phone calls early the next morning – maybe even before your alarm clock goes off! Make sure your information is updated and accurate to ensure you get that first phone call.
  • Keep an eye on the news. MNPS also reports any delays or closures to all local media stations during the 5 a.m. hour so they can keep you informed during the morning hours, as well.

Altering the school schedule has multiple impacts, including to families’ schedules and childcare arrangements, students who rely on school meals and employees’ work schedules and pay. However, safety is always the first priority. The decision about whether or not to call an inclement weather day is made based on the recommendation of our transportation staff who evaluate information from multiple agencies and MNPS’ own snow patrol members who drive roads throughout Davidson County evaluating travel conditions during winter weather. MNPS provides school bus transportation to more than 50,000 students every day – the decision to call an inclement weather day is based on whether or not road conditions are safe across the entire county. The district does not make the decision to close, delay or dismiss early lightly.

It’s not just the school day that’s impacted by inclement weather. After-school activities are also canceled when school is canceled due to weather – even if conditions improve later in the day. This includes athletic practices, games, performances, parent meetings, etc., but does not include TSSAA playoff games and tournaments. Independent after-school providers are responsible for notifying their families regarding their alternate schedule and closure.

MNPS has five inclement weather days built into this year’s calendar. Any additional days missed would be rescheduled.

#MNPSVoices: Susan Blankenship, Principal

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Susan Blankenship approaches life with a sense of honor and privilege, believing that what you do in the world matters and that everyone has a destined path. She patterns her life and career on this belief and seizes those opportunities when they are presented to her.

For the last 17 years, Blankenship has built a solid career with Metro Nashville Public Schools as a teacher, an instructional coach, assistant principal – and now, in her second year, as principal at Waverly-Belmont Elementary School. She has dedicated her life to helping children, not only here in Nashville but halfway around the world.

In addition to her work at MNPS, for the last seven years, Blankenship has been part of a faith-based organization called The Raining Season. During the summer, the group, based out of Spring Hill, Tenn., takes a team of local teachers to Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa to educate and care for children in an orphanage. Blankenship’s life was forever changed after her first journey.

“With that first trip, I thought I would come home and know exactly what I needed to do,” she said. “Now seven years later, I understand that my plan is a process, not an end-product. That experience has led to so many blessings in my life.”

Among those blessings involved expanding her family of four into a family of six.  Blankenship and her husband recently adopted two children from Sierra Leone – a brother and sister – who they had sponsored at the orphanage for years. The children, ages 12 and 17, came to Nashville last fall and recently celebrated their first Christmas in America.

Blankenship has always had a heart for kids, especially those who come from difficult situations. She credits the time spent in the orphanage with making her a better mom, teacher and principal.

“My life has become one of awareness, compassion and action,” Blankenship said. “I have a long way to go, but awareness is something that you can’t ignore or turn off, and it leads to compassion and action. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”

If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.

#MNPSVoices: Mary Murphy, Administrative Assistant

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After passing up her dream of becoming an artist, Mary Murphy said she found fulfillment in another role – serving the students of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“I wanted to go to school to be an artist but it didn’t work out that way,” Murphy said, adding that instead of abandoning her dream she made a conscious decision to redirect it.

Murphy started her journey with MNPS in April 1987 joining the school district as a substitute teacher. Within a few months, she matriculated into a full-time position as a senior account clerk in the Curriculum and Instruction department where she worked on desktop publications and taught herself how to design and layout documents on her department-issued computer.

It wasn’t long before Murphy began to tap into her creativity and expand the work she was doing in other meaningful ways.

“I saw a Mac 5200 desktop computer boxed up sitting on the floor and I asked could I use it,” Murphy said. “Everything I learned to do on paper [as an artist], I learned to do on the computer.”

Soon, Murphy was designing K-12 report cards and various other documents taking her design skills to an accelerated level. Her talents led to supporting design work inside and outside of her department in which many district team members took notice.

Dr. Antoinette Williams, Murphy’s former supervisor, said, “Mary is a hard worker…she always finds a way to get the work done.” Another district administrator, Dr. Lendozia Edwards, also worked with Murphy for a number of years, she said, “Mary is a valuable team member who [always] provides high-quality work.”

Throughout the years, Murphy has become known as a support system for principals and bookkeepers. Middle school Principal Dr. Sam Braden said, “We are fortunate to have such a helpful, courteous and caring employee supporting our team.”

Currently, Murphy works at the MNPS School Board office and serves as one of the administrative assistants to the Executive Directors of School Support and Improvement (EDSSIs). Although Murphy no longer works on a Mac computer that hasn’t stopped her enthusiasm for designing documents for her department or supporting the district by assisting the EDSSIs with parent concerns.

“As a parent and a grandparent, I know how frustrating situations can be,” Murphy said. “Times are different for students now, so I want to make sure parents have someone to support them. Whether right or wrong, I’m here to help.”

For 30 years Murphy has been committed to the district’s work and, although the retirement countdown has begun, she’s not quite ready to trade in her laptop for her favorite past time just yet.

“I want to see children succeed,” she said. “I feel like they deserve the best education they can get.”

If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.

Metro Schools students perform in Nashville Ballet’s ‘Nashville’s Nutcracker’

Clara. Photo by Karyn Photography

Photo credit: Karyn Photography

One of Nashville’s most beloved holiday traditions, Nashville Ballet‘s Nashville’s Nutcrackerfeatures 55 students from Metro Schools this year as part of the show’s youth cast.

This year’s youth cast members were selected from community-wide, open auditions. The young dancers perform alongside members of the Nashville Ballet’s professional dance company, second company and 60 members of the Nashville Symphony.

Baby Mice. Photo by Heather Thorne (1)

Photo credit: Heather Thorne

“We’ve had more than 1,000 young dancers in the Nashville’s Nutcracker youth cast since the production’s debut 10 years ago,” Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling said in a release. “The size of the youth cast has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, so this year we’re debuting a brand-new role, the Dancing Bear Cavalry, which allows us to welcome even more young dancers on stage.”

Lambs. Photo by Karyn Photography (3)

Photo credit: Karyn Photography

Nashville’s Nutcracker features the following Metro Schools students:

  • Amelia Adgate, from Westmeade Elementary School, as a Lamb
  • Ginevieve Alvarez, from Knowledge Academies, as a Native American Soldier
  • Vito Antoniadis, from Meigs Magnet Middle School, as Fritz
  • Tevin Ashford, from Creswell Middle School of the Arts, as Fritz
  • Florence Bavas, from Dan Mills Elementary School, as a Native American Soldier
  • Sydney Bayless, from Thurgood Marshall Middle School, as a Russian Nesting Doll
  • Bailey Beller, from West End Middle School, as a Bon Bon
  • Hailey Brown, from Head Magnet Middle School, as a Native American Soldier
  • Alissa Carter, from Park Avenue Enhanced Option Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Jayla Cliff, from Ruby Major Elementary School, as a Baby Mouse
  • Kennedy Davidson, from Nashville School of the Arts High School, as a Russian Nesting Doll
  • David Digby, from May Werthan Shayne Elementary School, as a Party Boy
  • Christiana Dixon, from Hull-Jackson Montessori School, as a Baby Mouse
  • Suze Esval, from Hillsboro High School, as a Russian Nesting Doll and Bon Bon
  • Indigo Gann, from Whitsitt Elementary School, as a Frontier Soldier
  • Lexi Gardner, from J.T. Moore Middle School, as a Medium Mouse
  • Will Gowan, from Glendale Elementary School, as a Party Boy
  • Carly Graham, from Head Magnet Middle School, as a Party Girl
  • Adaisha Grimes, from Granbery Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Sandra Grissom, from West End Middle School, as a Dancing Bear Cavalry member
  • Penny Hemingway, from Julia Green Elementary School, as a Lamb
  • Paige Hermanson, from Percy Priest Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Mattie Hill, from Granbery Elementary School, as a Baby Mouse
  • Nyelle Johnson, from Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center, as a Baby Mouse
  • Ben Jones, from Eakin Elementary School, as a Party Boy
  • James Lankford, from Nashville School of the Arts High School, as a Bon Bon
  • Brady May, from Head Magnet Middle School, as Fritz
  • Katie Ann McCanless, from Julia Green Elementary School, as a Lamb
  • Nancy McCanless, from Julia Green Elementary School, as a Lamb
  • Ana Moore, from Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center, as a Lamb
  • Annabella Morozov, from Andrew Jackson Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy
  • Josephine Mutuku, from Meigs Magnet Middle School, as a Frontier Soldier
  • Addie Nine, from Percy Priest Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy
  • Samantha Otto, from Glengarry Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Imisi Otukpe, from Granbery Elementary School, as a Frontier Soldier
  • Iyanu Otukpe, from Granbery Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Lillian Padgett, from East Nashville Magnet Middle School, as a Medium Mouse
  • Miranda Pita, from Tusculum Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy
  • Katelynn Quarles, from Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option School, as a Cavalry member
  • Bea Robbins, from Glendale Elementary School, as a Cavalry member
  • Kent Sandidge, from Head Magnet Middle School, as a Party Boy
  • Marshal Simpson, from Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center, as a Baby Mouse
  • Gwyneth Smith, from J.T. Moore Middle School, as a Party Girl
  • Seraphim Smith, from West End Middle School, as a Russian Nesting Doll
  • Gabe Tolentino, from Glengarry Elementary School, as a Party Boy
  • Embree Unick, from Valor Voyager Academy, as a Party Girl
  • Avery Weber, from Tusculum Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy
  • Addison Whitaker, from Lakeview Elementary Design Center, as a Garden Fairy
  • Antanisha Whitman, from Meigs Magnet Middle School, as a Native American Soldier
  • Jake Wilkison, from Glendale Elementary School, as a Party Boy
  • Kymora-Lee Williams, from Oliver Middle School, as a Dancing Bear Cavalry member
  • Cayli Mariah Wilson, from Eakin Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy
  • Madison Womack, from Nashville Classical, as a Garden Fairy
  • Danielle Woodard, from East Nashville Magnet High School, as a Russian Nesting Doll
  • Emmalynn Woodard, from Harpeth Valley Elementary School, as a Garden Fairy

Tickets can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at (615) 782-4040 or at NashvilleBallet.com. A complete performance schedule and more information can be found at NashvilleBallet.com/Nashvilles-Nutcracker-2017.

#MNPSVoices: Tanzye Hill, Community Schools Coordinator

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School is a place for learning and academic achievement, but when students have needs outside of academics, that’s where Tanzye Hill steps in.

Hill is the community schools coordinator at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, a role focused solely on removing learning barriers for students. She coordinates school support staff and manages community partnerships to provide services for students ranging from food and clothing assistance to more long-term care like grief counseling.

Hill’s role at Pearl-Cohn is through Community Achieves, a Metro Nashville Public Schools district-led initiative that supports the development of full-service community schools. The community school model is a strategy being implemented in districts across the country. It focuses on partnerships between the school and community to provide needed resources for students.

“During my four years at Pearl-Cohn, I have personally witnessed multiple students build resilience and overcome traumatic events by choosing to accept and connect to help through the Community Achieves model,” Hill said. “Our students learn how to advocate for themselves, their friends and families, and have a greater sense of belonging. This is reflective of the increased engagement we see with programs provided by community partners such as Girls Inc., Oasis Center, Alive Hospice, Family and Children’s Services and many more.”

Not only does Hill’s work provide aid to the students of Pearl-Cohn, it also supports teachers.

“I recognize the weight on teachers to address needs beyond curriculum and instruction on a daily basis,” Hill said. “Teachers often voice how thankful they are to have a system in place that can relieve this burden and allows them to focus on teaching. Those moments remind me how valuable the work that my team does is to the education of our students.”

Metro Schools is among the districts leading the national community schools movement. In June 2017, Community Achieves and Pearl-Cohn both received Community Schools Awards for Excellence from the Coalition for Community Schools. While Metro Schools is making great strides in this area, Hill said collaboration from the entire community is needed to continue this work successfully.

“Serving the whole-child and whole-family places the responsibility of educating our youth on all stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, school – and district-level staff and community members,” she said. “I am a firm believer that ‘it takes a village,’ and the community schools approach to learning is a perfect representation of that proverb.”

If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.

Metro Schools to host 2018 School Choice Festival on Jan. 23

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One of the most important decisions families will make is where they will send their child to school, and the School Choice Festival is the perfect opportunity for Metro Schools families to get all of the information about school options for the 2018-19 school year. Metro Schools will host the 2018 School Choice Festival on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 5-7 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds (500 Wedgewood Ave. Nashville, TN 37203).

The School Choice Festival allows families to visit every Metro school in on afternoon and in one central location. This free, fun-filled and informative event is the first step for families to learn about their choices and begin their journey to finding the right school for their children. At the event, families can visit with as many schools as they like, meet teachers, learn more about school programs and sign up for school tours.

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Applications will be available online and on paper Jan. 10, 2018. Families can apply for up to seven schools, ranked in order of preference. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 2, 2018 for inclusion in the selection process. On selection day, students will find out where they were accepted and where they were placed on a waitlist.

Here are some important dates to know:

JANUARY 10, 2018
OPTIONAL SCHOOLS APPLICATION OPENS

  • Access the application online or fill out the paper copy sent home with students.
  • Apply to a maximum of seven schools.
  • Rank your choices in order of preference.
  • Apply at any time before the deadline in February — it is not “first come, first served.”

SCHOOL TOURS IN JANUARY
TOUR SCHOOLS ON “TOUR TUESDAYS”

  • Tour Tuesdays will be held Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30.
  • For more information, visit http://www.mnps.org/visit or contact the school.

JANUARY 23, 2018
SCHOOL CHOICE FESTIVAL

  • Meet staff from schools.
  • Learn about school programs and offerings.
  • Sign up for school tours

FEBRUARY 2, 2018
APPLICATION DEADLINE

  • Submit your optional schools application by the deadline to be included in the selection process.

FEBRUARY 23, 2018
SELECTION DAY

  • Find out which schools accepted your child. For schools with more applicants than spaces, there may be wait lists.
  • Enroll your child to secure your seat

#MNPSVoices: Priscilla Serrano, First Grade Teacher

MNPSVoices_PriscillaSeranoPriscilla Serrano, a first grade teacher at Paragon Mills Elementary School, will always remember how proud her parents were when she graduated from college—and high school—because they had only made it to the early grades of middle and elementary school due to their circumstances in Mexico. Unlike her parents, Serrano was given the chance to attend Aquinas College—an opportunity for which she is forever thankful.

“Education changes your life, it changes families,” Serrano said. “It changes the entire lifestyle of a generation.”

That is one of the reasons Serrano decided to become a teacher—after seeing the effects of education as a first-generation Mexican-American. At an early age, she was also inspired by teachers when she attended Metro Schools. Those teachers connected curriculum across all subjects and rewarded students’ hard work with celebrations. She mimicked these educators, even as a child, by being a homework helper for her younger family members.

Recently, Serrano was honored as an MNPS Out-of-the-Box Award winner for the month of October. And although she has only been teaching for approximately 10 weeks, in addition to her award, Serrano has run into some other unexpected surprises.

“Everything that comes out of these kids is good,” Serrano said of her students’ innocent character.

Her students’ reflect the diversity of Paragon Mills Elementary School’s entire student body, in which more than 30 languages are spoken. Serrano said non-English speaking students do well at generally understanding lessons but struggle with vocabulary, and the extra time with vocabulary is beneficial to all students when grasping literacy. She said she finds class-wide success when spending extra time explaining complex words.

When students look back on their year with Serrano, they will remember first grade as the time when they mastered the art of reading.

If you’re interested in joining the MNPS team, visit our careers page for more information.

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