Connecting the Dots: the Strategic Framework and our new community-based leadership structure

StrategicPlan_GoalsOver the last few weeks, you’ve heard us throw around phrases like ‘strategic framework,’ and ’community-based structure,’ and you’ve probably seen our latest announcement about new Community Superintendents and Executive Directors of School Support and Improvements.

So, what does this all mean to you and your Metro Schools’ students? In a nutshell, it means Metro Schools is moving forward and better aligning resources with our students’ and community’s needs.

MNPS serves 88,000 students from all backgrounds every single day. We know we have real opportunities when it comes to strengthening the education of our students. For example, we had a concerted effort on literacy throughout the school year because we know our students need to be reading on grade level in order to be successful in every other area of their education.

One core goal of our Strategic Plan is “to create strong partnerships with our family members, guardians, and the community to collectively improve student outcomes and MNPS’ contribution to greater Nashville.”

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Our current structure is organized by tier – elementary, middle and high – but we know that our communities are diverse and will benefit from community-specific leadership. So, effective next month, MNPS will transition to a community-based organizational structure.

So, what do we gain by changing this leadership structure? What does your child gain?

By dedicating one community superintendent, an executive director of school support and improvement and other staff to support him/her to each geographic quadrant of the city, the district will be able to better respond to specific, unique community needs and will be able to work collaboratively with other community partners towards the same goal: to deliver a great public education to every student, every day. This new structure will also create stronger connections between the elementary, middle and high schools in each community by providing leadership that spans all grade levels.

Research shows that when families and guardians are actively involved in their children’s educations, academic performance improves. With a community-based model and dedicated leadership structures in different geographic quadrants across the city, Metro Schools leadership will be able to engage with family members more often and provide better support and communications.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and through this structure, Metro Schools will be able to partner with our community leaders and families to educate the children of all of Nashville’s unique communities.

Hume-Fogg sophomore awarded scholarship to program at Cornell University

Congratulations to Yeabsira Mezmur, a sophomore at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, for winning a full scholarship to the 2017 Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS) at Cornell University. The educational program, titled “Black Feminist Thought,” is a six-week-long, college-level seminar for gifted and highly motivated high school sophomores.

Admission to the program is highly selective. Teachers and guidance counselors first nominate promising students for candidacy to TASS. After completing a rigorous application and submitting an academic recommendation and transcript, TASS finalists are selected from the competitive group of applicants. Each candidate receives a personal interview by an associate or member of the Telluride Association board, after which a central committee selects the scholarship recipients. TASS Scholars enjoy free tuition, room and board and books at the seminar for which they are selected.

Telluride Association is an independent not-for-profit educational organization which has offered summer programs to high school juniors of exceptional promise since 1954. This is the 25th year of Telluride’s Sophomore Seminar.

Join the Read to Be Ready Father’s Day Challenge

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Father’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re looking for pictures of Metro Schools students reading with the father figures in their lives!

Currently, only 43 percent of students are reading on grade level by the time they leave third grade in Tennessee. In 2016, Tennessee’s Department of Education launched its Read to Be Ready initiative with the goal of increasing the percentage to 75 percent by 2025.

As part of the Read to Be Ready initiative, Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, Tennessee’s Imagination Library and Southern Word are seeking photos of fathers or other male adults reading with children to raise awareness of the importance of parent engagement and childhood literacy.

In this spirit, please send in photos of fathers or other male adults reading with children. These photos will be compiled in a video slideshow to raise awareness of the importance of childhood literacy and the Read to Be Ready goal.

Be creative! These can be photos of reading with a child at bedtime, during a meal, outside, while working, etc. If you are a mother, send in a photo of you and your father or husband reading with a child.

Click here to complete the release form and attach the photo you would like to submit. You may also e-mail photos directly to photos@governorsfoundation.org.

McGavock High School Academy of Aviation and Transportation Spring Wing Fling honors students and those who support them

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A Van R-6 aircraft, similar to the Van R-12 aircraft McGavock High School Academy of Aviation and Transportation students are building. The build will continue in fall 2017 and students are expected to fly the aircraft in summer 2018.

McGavock High School Academy of Aviation and Transportation hosted a celebration of students’ work and achievements at the school’s Spring Wing Fling on Friday, May 12.

“The Spring Wing Fling is a day of celebration and recognition of the McGavock High School Aviation and Transportation Academy students and those in the community who support them,” said David Hubbell, academy principal. “This year’s event was particularly exciting as we announced the first student to receive a flight training scholarship from Nashville Flight Training.”

Academy instructor Derek Rowe and AviationNation founder Bob Kelly dedicated an aircraft build project, popping the ceremonial rivet on the Van’s R-12 aircraft currently in construction by students. The project is a three-phase build kit donated by AviationNation and supervised by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Nashville Flight Training owner, Chris Erlanson announced the academy’s first Nashville Flight Training scholarship recipient. The flight school is partnering with the school to offer an annual scholarship for the Aviation and Transportation Academy students.

“We are thrilled to play a role in supporting the next generation of pilots at McGavock’s Aviation and Transportation Academy,” said Chris Erlanson, Nashville Flight Training owner. “In addition to offering an annual scholarship for students, our flight school will also partner with the academy to provide opportunities for hands-on learning.”

“Support from corporate and nonprofit partners such as Nashville Flight Training, AviationNation and the Experimental Aircraft Association enables McGavock’s Aviation and Transportation Academy to inspire lifelong learning in our students through unique educational and extracurricular activities,” said Rowe.

Students enrolled in McGavock High School’s Aviation and Transportation Academy are in an elite group of 20 schools of its type in the nation giving students the opportunity to earn a written pilot certification, one of the requirements in obtaining a pilot license, upon graduation, as well as earn up to three college credits toward an aviation degree.

 

Metro Schools sponsors summer meal program for families

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Children need healthy food all year long, which is why Metro Schools is sponsoring a summer meals program. During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch programs. When school lets out, many of these children are at risk of hunger. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process.

Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set a cycle for poor performance once schools begins again, and may make children more prone to illness and other health issues. The Summer Meals Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children get the nutritious meals they need.

Summer meals are available at no cost to children 18 and under. The meals will be available at the following locations and times:

JE Moss Elementary School – June 1 to July 21
1-2 p.m.
4701 Bowfield Drive
Antioch, TN 37013

Pearl-Cohn High School – June 5 to July 7
12-1 p.m.
904 26th Ave. N.
Nashville, TN 37208

Fall-Hamilton Elementary – June 1 to July 21
1-2 p.m.
510 Wedgewood Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203

Dr. Shawn Joseph completes tour of all Metro Schools

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Since his first day on the job, Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph has been committed to visiting every school in the district. And as Metro Schools students and teachers wrapped up the 2016-2017 school year, Dr. Joseph achieved his goal of visiting every school in the district during his first year on the job.

On Wednesday, May 24, Dr. Joseph completed his 168th school visit at Oliver Middle Prep, a school where he first kicked off his Listen and Learn tour last summer.

Dr. Joseph toured the building with Oliver Middle Prep administration, delivered an inspiring end-of-the-year message at the seventh grade academic assembly and spent time in an eighth grade classroom for a question-and-answer session.

Throughout the year, Dr. Joseph traveled the district with one goal: to listen to and to learn from the staff, faculty and families of Metro Schools. This engagement of the Metro Schools’ community has directly influenced the district’s new Strategic Framework, among other projects.

“I’ve really gotten to understand the needs of our district,” Dr. Joseph said. “Speaking with students, speaking with teachers and principals gave me the ability to make better decisions.”

View photos and video from Dr. Joseph’s final school visit:

Hume-Fogg teacher earns GSFTA Teacher of the Year award

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Congratulations are in order! Shayna Snider, an art teacher at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, was named Governor’s School for the Arts‘ (GSFTA) Teacher of the Year.

GSFTA is a four-week residency summer program for high school students gifted in music, visual art, theatre, dance and filmmaking founded by Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander in 1984. Five students from Snider’s classroom are attending the program this summer, which has only happened once in the program’s history.

Over the past ten years, Snider has taught a variety of courses in Metro Schools, including Visual Arts I, II, III, and IV, Visual Communication, Digital Art, AP Drawing, 2D Design, and 3D Design.

She is currently a member of the Frist Art Education Advisory Council as well as the MNPS Visual Arts Advisory Council and has served as a GLADIS Visual Arts portfolio evaluator for the state of Tennessee. Her students have achieved regional and national Gold Keys in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition and gone on to receive scholarships and attend leading arts institutions, such as Pratt, California College of the Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Snider came to Tennessee in 2007 from New York where she received her master’s degree in art education from the School of Visual Arts. Her education to be a teacher included placements at powerhouse New York schools, such as Art and Design High School and the Chapin School for Girls, both of which greatly influenced the formative years of her teaching practice and continue to guide her in her classroom today.

#MNPSco2017: Lilia Rafful, McGavock High School

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Lilia Rafful is a first-generation immigrant who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child by her mother. Because of the language barrier, her family was unaware of how to go about getting the proper paperwork for legally obtaining citizenship.

The Secretary of Homeland Security announced in June 2012 that students like Lilia would receive a special status, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA to remain in the United Status, attend college or obtain employment.

As a DACA student, Lilia ran into several obstacles when it came time to apply to colleges and finding money for college. Because she is a DACA student she is not able to fill out the FAFSA or have the opportunity for the TNPromise. Her only opportunity to attend college is to go to a school and pay out of state tuition which can be three times more than in-state tuition, even though she has lived in the US since she was 4-years-old.

Lilia marched at the Tennessee state capitol earlier this year to show her support to the state senators that wanted to pass SB-1014, which would have offered in-state tuition to undocumented youth in Tennessee. The bill failed to pass.

To make it even more frustrating for Lilia, she received a letter from a college in Tennessee stating that she was admitted and they had a program that would offer her in-state tuition. Lilia and her mom drove four hours to the university to fill out the paperwork only to find out that the university made a mistake in sending her that letter and they could not offer it to her. This did not stop Lilia from pursuing her dream of attending college.

Lilia researched and reached out to several schools and organizations that offer assistance to DACA students. She has been accepted to Trevecca Nazarene University, who does a great job working with DACA students and has received a $44,000 scholarship from them to help with tuition.

“This is truly what America is about,” said Lilia’s school counselor.

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#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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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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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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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.

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