2018 MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Class Inducted


From Left to Right: Jim Bevans, James “Coach” Armstrong, Carol Galloway, Steve Burger, Joe Fisher, Felicia Grinter, Keith Davis and Danny Gibson

Eight Nashville sports figures were inducted into the 2018 Metro Schools Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, March 29. The 2018 class was introduced by local sports radio personality George Plaster at a luncheon held at the Springhouse Golf Club at Gaylord Opryland Resort.

“With so many legends of Nashville high school sports in the same room, I listened to their stories like a kid in a candy store,” said Mark North, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member. “These inductees have accomplished so much beyond athletics. We are proud of their accomplishments and hope they know we remember. They have each forever earned a place in Nashville history, and we proudly celebrate them.”


MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Sandra Tinnon, Hall of Fame Inductee James “Coach” Armstrong

James “Coach” Armstrong
Pearl High School
Class of 1953

Armstrong graduated from Pearl High School in 1953. He played football all three years. He went on to receive two degrees from Tennessee State University and a Doctorate of Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt in 1982. Armstrong began his teaching and coaching careers at Attucks High School in Hopkinsville, Ky.

In 1963, Armstrong returned to Nashville to teach and coach at Pearl High. He spent the next 17 years there teaching and mentoring athletes. Armstrong is credited with helping get black schools into the all-white N.I.L. After another strong season, Armstrong convinced the Clinic Board Committee to give Pearl a chance and let them compete in the Clinic Bowl. They ended up defeating Maplewood 6-0.

Coach Armstrong’s coaching career included receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA). He was inducted into the Region 6-AAA Metro Hall of Fame for football and basketball as well as the TSSAA Hall of Fame. Armstrong was also named Coach of the Year.

After teaching, Armstrong moved into administration. He served as principal at several Metro Schools before moving to Central Office and becoming an adjunct professor at Tennessee State University.

Coach Armstrong was married to Jo Ann Armstrong and they had two sons, Vincent and Dwayne. Later he was married to the late Dr. Jeanette Armstrong.


MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Chris Henson, Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Bevans

Jim Bevans
Donelson High School
Class of 1964

Jim Bevans known as “Jimbo” Bevans earned many honors while at Donelson High School. In high school he made All-City third team for football, All-State AP first team and All-NIL for basketball. Jimbo played on the 1964 State Championship Basketball Team and played on the 1964 State Baseball Team.

In 1967 Jimbo attended West Point. He was a two-year starter. He was named All-East first team for his play at linebacker and played in East-West Shrine Game. Jimbo had 8 interceptions in a 10-game season which was the most in Army Football history.

Jimbo received All-America honorable mention and was named by the coaches vote as the most valuable player. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1968 and spent a year in Vietnam as an Army fix wing pilot from 1971-72.

Jimbo graduated from the University of Tennessee Dental School in 1977 and graduated from the University of Kentucky Periodontal Program in 1980.

Jimbo is married to Carol Galloway and they have three daughters and five grandchildren. He is still practicing periodontal dentistry in Hendersonville, Tennessee.


Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Burger, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Walter Overton

Steve Burger
Donelson High School
Class of 1969

Steve Burger played football, baseball and basketball while at Donelson High School. He was named to the Nashville Tennessean’s All-Metro football and basketball teams and was named the 1968 NIL Football Player of the Year in the Class AAA Eastern Division.

Burger was the National Football Foundation Nashville Chapter Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1968. He was also a finalist for the Hume Award that same year.

Burger played multiple positions including quarterback, tailback and fullback at Vanderbilt from 1969-’72. He was named to the AP All-SEC Sophomore Team ’70. During his career at Vanderbilt, Burger rushed for 1,308 yards including 21 touchdowns and passed for 1,252 yards and threw for 7 touchdowns.

Steve also played baseball at Vanderbilt from 1972-‘74. He played on the 1972 SEC Runner-up team with a 6-0 pitching record. In 1974, Vanderbilt won the SEC Baseball Championship by beating Alabama twice.


Hall of Fame Inductee Keith Davis, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Roosevelt Sanders

Keith Davis
Overton High School
Class of 1984

Keith Davis set the standard for running backs in Nashville. He was named Tennessean Offensive Player of the Year his junior and senior seasons and was named AAA Metro Player of the Year in 1983.

Keith was named to the All-State, All-South and All-American teams. He won the Lawrenceburg Quarterback Club Player of the Year Award as well as the Hertz No. 1 Award. He was the top prospect in the state and was named to the U.S. Army Reserves All-Star Class of 1984.

In track, Davis won the state 200-meters event, placed second in the 400-meters event and earned the Trackman of the Year Award in 1984. Davis was also a starter on Overton’s District Champion Basketball team.

Keith attended the University of Tennessee and finished in the top 10 for rushing yards and yards per rush in the SEC in 1985. He also led the SEC in yards per kickoff return in 1988.


Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Fisher, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Monae Fletcher

Joe Fisher
Antioch High School
Class of 1977

Joe Fisher is a native Nashvillian who graduated from Antioch High School and Middle Tennessee State University. During his years at Antioch High School, he was a standout on the tennis court. At the age of 16, Fisher called Rudy Kalis at Channel 4 to find out how to break into the broadcasting business. A few weeks later, he was hired to work part-time answering phones and helping around the sports department.

Fisher graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism. He began his career in radio at WMOT-FM in Murfreesboro. From there, Fisher moved to WSMV-TV where he spent nine years as a sports anchor/reporter before moving on to WKRN-TV. Fisher spent two seasons doing play-by-play for Vanderbilt women’s basketball before being named director of broadcasting for Vanderbilt athletics. Fisher is now is in 20th season doing play-by-play for the Commodores.

Fisher has won numerous broadcasting awards over the years including a regional Emmy. He was named Nashville’s Favorite Sports Personality and co-Sportscaster of the Year in 2013.

Fisher currently serves on the board of the Rochelle Center and is a founding member of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame advisory board. Fisher has been married 29 years to the former Diana Knight and they have one son, Zach, who graduated from the University of Alabama.


Hall of Fame Inductee Carol Galloway, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Joanne Tribue

Carol Galloway
Litton High School
Class of 1965

Carol Galloway is a 1965 MNPS graduate of Litton High School. While Carol was at Litton they won the NIL in 1964 and she was named Tennessean All-City & All-District.

In 1965, while averaging 23 points per game, Carol was named Tennessean All-City, All-District and Banner All-Nashville. She was recognized as Miss Nashville High School that year.

Carol was a very active young lady participating in basketball, skiing and golf. Five times Carol topped the 30-point mark with her best effort being 33 points in a victory against Hillsboro High School.

Carol studied at the University of Tennessee Allied Science, University of Memphis and later graduated from Belmont University in 1969.

Carol is married to Jim Bevans and has three daughters and five grandchildren. As Jim is also being inducted along with Carol, they will be the first married couple to be inducted into the MNPS Sports Hall of Fame.


MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Mark North, Hall of Fame Inductee Danny Gibson

Danny Gibson
East Nashville High School
Class of 1960

Danny Gibson was a two-time state champion golfer for East High, winning the 1958 and 1959 TSSAA individual state golf tournaments. His dramatic win in 1959 was clinched when he sank a curling, downhill 25-foot putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. He followed those two championships with a runner-up finish in 1960. Gibson led the East High golf team to the state championship in 1958 and won the Nashville Banner NIL Golf Championship in 1959.

Gibson attended Memphis State University on a golf scholarship and became a golf professional at Harpeth Hills, Riverview and Shelby Golf Courses. He served the city for many years as the Superintendent of Golf Courses for Metro Nashville.

Gibson retired in 2002 and currently resides in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.


Hall of Fame Inductee Felicia Grinter, MNPS Sports Hall of Fame Committee Member Dr. Glenn Falls

Felicia Grinter
Glencliff High School
Class of 1987

Felicia Grinter lettered in five sports while attending Glencliff High School. She played basketball, volleyball, softball and competed on the track and cross-country teams. She received numerous awards during her time at Glencliff including being named to multiple all-district, all-city, all-regional teams as well as the TSSAA Region 6 Volleyball Champions in 1986.

Grinter took her passion for sports and turned it into a career. While on a basketball scholarship at Volunteer State Community College, she enrolled in a basketball officiating class. That class would jump-start her career and would help Felicia become one of the top women’s basketball referees in the country.

Grinter has worked in all the major college conferences and was selected to officiate the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She was the only American referee chosen to work the summer games that year. Besides receiving countless awards at home, she has also been recognized internationally by several countries including Colombia, Spain, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Felicia is the daughter of Sammie and Maggie Grinter. She has two siblings, a niece and two nephews.

Breaking Down the Budget: Employee Compensation


This week, we’re breaking down the budget proposal for the 2018-2019 operating year. Metro Schools will focus on Our Students and Our People in the 2018-19 operating budget, with the majority of spending aimed at improving equity and excellence across the district.

Read more about the budget proposal here.

 One strategic priority of the budget proposal focuses on the Our People goal area of the Strategic Framework.

Investing in our employees is a priority to ensure we recruit and retain the highest-quality staff and without an engaged workforce, much of the work outlined in the Strategic Framework and supported in this year’s proposal would be unattainable.

“As we talk about the investments that are needed within our school district, none are more important than an investment in our people.    If we do not address the needs of those who work so diligently in our schools every day – our teachers and our staff, there is no way we will achieve any of our goals.  We can have the most thoughtful and intentional Strategic Plan in the world, but none of the work will happen unless staff are inspired to execute it.”

– Dr. Shawn Joseph, Director of Schools, State of Schools Address March 2018

For the second year in a row, employee compensation is a primary priority of our budget proposal to ensure that we hire and retain the highest-quality staff – and to ensure that our employees can live on the salaries they make. Through this proposal, the district is increasing compensation for all staff, while also looking specifically at para-educator salaries.


While compensation will be addressed across the board, it’s a particular focus for our para-professional employees who work with our special education students and support classroom teachers.

This budget proposal includes a $1.3 million investment specifically for our para-professional employees. This will ensure para-professional pay is increased by two pay grades, in addition to the proposed raises for all employees.

“Para-educators like Kushana and Michelle are committed to their schools and students and they are deserving of a salary that better reflects the costs of living in a growing and progressive city like Nashville.”

This investment totals $24,584,700 and:

We know our para-professional educators are a critical piece of our classrooms. Learn more about two exceptional para-professionals, Kushana and Michelle, in this video:

2018 State of Schools Address: Para Professionals from Metro Nashville Public Schools on Vimeo.


More than 11,000 employees work, who deserve a salary that reflects the cost of living in this city, support our 86,000 Metro Schools students every day – and this budget proposal will, in turn, help to support them.

Learn more about this year’s budget proposal and view the overall timeline here.

Breaking Down the Budget: Our 2018-2019 Budget Proposal


Metro Schools will focus on Our Students and Our People in the 2018-19 operating budget, with the majority of spending aimed at improving equity and excellence across the district.

Over the next few days, we will break down each priority area of next year’s operating budget request.

Overview of the Budget Proposal

We must be committed to looking at our work through an equity lens at all times—removing social, economic and other obstacles that disadvantage children from succeeding in school — and we must be committed to creating excellence by design, with intentional and strategic investments and emphasis that improve student outcomes.

Our priorities reflected in the 2018-2019 operating budget proposal include:

  • Social & Emotional Learning
  • Literacy
  • Employee Compensation

Our Students

We plan to invest additional resources into social and emotional learning to address the many needs our students bring with them to the classroom, while also addressing attendance and a need for additional counseling supports to ensure our students have what they need to be college and career ready. To do this, we will add five new positions that will support and train our teachers and we will realign 35 existing positions to better serve the needs of our students and schools.

We’re also increasing our student-based budgeting investment for the second year in a row. This year, schools will receive $449,7 million through the student-based budgeting allocation, which is $14.2 million more than last year. In addition, $5.2 million more dollars will be allocated specifically to meet the needs of our special education students and $2 million will be invested in our English Language Learners.

In an effort to strategically use our resources to support the work of social and emotional learning with the district’s quadrant-based model, 35 existing positions in student support services will be repurposed to better serve our schools and students to support priorities identified in the district’s Strategic Plan. These changes will create more accountability, structure and support to clusters and quadrants around SEL.

Student-Related Priorities:

  • Social & Emotional Learning
  • Literacy

Our People

More than 11,000 employees support the work of our district every day. Investing in our employees is a priority to ensure we recruit and retain the highest-quality staff. Through this proposal, the district is increasing compensation for all staff, while also looking specifically at para-educator salaries.

Employee-Related Priorities:

MNPS will invest $24,584,700 in our workforce in 2018-2019, including:

  • a 2 percent cost of living increase for all employees,
  • step increases for eligible employees, and
  • increasing para-professional pay by two pay grades.

View the Full 2018-2019 Budget Proposal

2018 Metro Schools State of Schools Address


Good morning, it’s great to see everyone here today.  I want to thank you for joining us – your presence indicates your support for the work we are doing here within Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Can we give Dr. Jill Pittman, the Overton staff and Overton’s wonderful students a round of applause for hosting us this morning?

Overton High School has amazing students.  I’ve visited this school on numerous occasions this year, and I am always inspired by what I see.  Overton is a wonderful representation of everything that’s great within our district. Within the walls of this school, students who are from 50 countries and who speak 40 languages learn together and learn from each other.

When I started this budget season, I knew I wanted to meet with our students and hear directly from them about what they needed and what they wanted in order to be successful high school students here in Metro Schools.

One of the groups of students I met with was right here at Overton High School.  I sat in awe of those students that day – and I continue to be in awe of them today.  I made a promise to those students that their voices would be uplifted in my budget, and I promised them that, as the adults responsible for helping them reach their goals, we’d do all we could do to fight for them.

Today, we are here to look at the current state of Metro Nashville Public Schools – to celebrate the accomplishments of this past year, and to discuss what we need to make progress toward making Metro Nashville Public Schools the best place in the country to educate all children.

Yesterday, I shared with the Board of Education and our community my request for a 5.1% increase from last year’s budget, representing $44.7 million additional dollars to our operating budget.

I feel strongly that this budget request is both reasonable and logical.  If fully funded, I am certain we will accelerate the work the Board of Education and I have begun as we have worked to execute our strategic plan which has four key areas: Our Students, Our People, Our Community, and Our Organization.  This budget reflects our desire to focus on our students and our people.  It is my hope that in future years, we will be able to gain the resources necessary to fully address all four strategic areas.

While we have made progress in some areas, addressing 91 out of 121 goals in just 18 months – we know there’s much more work to do. We are making progress, and as a community, we should feel good about our momentum.

  • We should feel good about improving the quality of our Pre-K seats working collaboratively with the Mayor’s office and local partners;
  • We should feel good about challenging students to reach new academic heights through our intentional efforts to increase rigor at all tiers of schooling;
  • We have doubled the number of students with plans to take Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate/and Cambridge exams, and we have expanded our advanced programming in middle schools;
  • We should feel good about our focus on equity, which gave us the will to pay for testing fees for all high school students taking industry certifications. These efforts have resulted in our doubling the number of students expected to take industry certification exams;
  • And, we should feel good about our work in increasing our gifted and talented support in all elementary and middle schools. No longer is gifted instruction something a select number of students receive.  We now search to support the giftedness in all children and we expect more from all of our children.

I am especially proud of the work we’ve done to improve literacy. Our most recent administration of the Measures of Academic Progress in Reading showed that 55.9% of students in grades 2-8 met or exceeded growth targets which makes me optimistic about how our students will perform on this year’s TN Ready exams.

This is the work we committed to this time last year – these are the priorities we outlined and the work we invested in. And while these initiatives have not yet been in place for a full year, we know these strategic investments are going to pay dividends over time in the lives of our students.

We also have additional reasons to celebrate:

  • Last fall, we celebrated announcements of three federal grants, totaling nearly $24 million. These grants will provide professional development to our art educators, support high-quality Pre-K programs and develop five new elementary magnet school programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – or STEAM-  to provide additional opportunity and choice for our students. These magnet schools will each have a unique STEAM-focused curriculum designed to enhance collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking for students.  Our youngest learners will be immersed in programs like entrepreneurship, environmental sciences, integrated technology, biological sciences and environmental engineering.
  • In partnership with Nashville State Community College, we will launch a new Early College program at its main campus – admitting 100 freshmen next school year. Students will ultimately earn an associate’s degree in information technology and a high school diploma in the 2021-2022 school year.  This partnership meets the continued demands for IT workers right here in Nashville.
  • Through partnerships with Vanderbilt Health, Kroger and our Insurance Trust, we celebrated the opening of our first Employee Wellness Center that provides health, fitness and pharmacy services to our employees and retirees and joins our other MNPS employee health clinics in providing services and resources for employees and their families to improve their overall health. I am proud that Metro Schools received the Cigna Workplace Wellness Award recognizing our efforts on behalf of our employees and retirees.
  • The CMA Foundation has provided $11.5 million to fund music education in Music City since 2006, making it one of the largest private, local investors in public education in Nashville. The Foundation’s generous support for music education and its long-time commitment to the city of Nashville has been an essential ingredient to providing students the opportunities that come from having music as part of their education and creating a nationally recognized music education program.
  • Our Academies of Nashville offer 39 Academies in 12 high schools. Through more than 350 business partners, students have access to more than 40 industry certifications and participate in a practical, hands-on approach to learning in fields that interest them. Our schools regularly host visitors from across the globe who travel to Nashville to see our work – in fact, since 2011, we have hosted 4,223 visitors to learn more about the Academies of Nashville. They have come from 325 different communities, 40 states and two countries.
  • We also celebrated with Cicely Woodard, a mathematics teacher at West End Middle School.  She proudly represents all MNPS teachers and teachers in Tennessee as Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year. Dr. Woodard is a 13-year veteran in Metro Schools and has made a lasting impact on her students, her colleagues, this district and this state.
  • Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated LEED gold designation of our new Tusculum Elementary School – a much-needed replacement school that opened its doors last fall. Tusculum is one of only four schools in Tennessee to receive this level of certification that recognizes energy efficiency and conservation in building construction.

These awards are nice – and they are indicative of a district where great things are happening.  Last year’s budget, similar to this year’s budget request, focused on our people and our students.  We raised expectations and supports for staff and students, and we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor.  This year, we will continue to focus on our people and our students, but this time, our focus gets to the heart of our need to make strategic investments in the emotional safety and well-being of our staff and students.

First, let’s discuss the needs of our people, a critical component of our strategic plan.  As we talk about the investments that are needed within our school district, none are more important than an investment in our people.    If we do not address the needs of those who work so diligently in our schools every day – our teachers and our staff, there is no way we will achieve any of our goals.  We can have the most thoughtful and intentional Strategic Plan in the world, but none of the work will happen unless staff are inspired to execute it.

Nashville is booming.  We can look at the changing skyline and the cranes over construction sites and know that our city is growing.  It’s a wonderful thing, and it brings vast opportunities for our students.  But this huge growth brings challenges we must address.

We must recognize the economic realities for our employees.  The cost of living in Nashville is increasing as our city grows.  This is impacting not only our students’ families but also our employees. The reality is, in every corner of the city, we are tearing down older housing and replacing them with new homes, which brings higher home costs and higher rents.

For the second year in a row, employee compensation is a primary priority of our budget proposal to ensure that we hire and retain the highest-quality staff – and to ensure that our employees can live on the salaries they make.

  • I am requesting an additional $24,584,700 to provide a 2% across the board raise and step increase for all step eligible employees and to cover the costs associated with increases in insurance premiums and costs of pensions. This represents 55% of my overall ask this year.

I have heard from both the Mayor’s office and the Metro Council that this will be a difficult budget season, and my request takes this into consideration.  We are the largest part of Metro Government, and because we serve 11,000 employees, our employee benefits can be costly.  However, it is costlier to lose great teachers and employees because they cannot live in our city, so if there is a way to increase compensation even more through this process, I would welcome it.  Our teachers and staff deserve competitive compensation.

Compensation is an issue for most employees, but it is especially difficult for some of our support positions – like our para-professionals who work with our special education students and assist classroom teachers in meeting these students’ educational needs.

  • Let’s learn a little bit more about the incredible supports our para-professionals give our students and staff. [VIDEO]
  • Kushana Russell and Michelle Sampson are here with us today and I’d like them to stand at this time and receive our appreciation.

Thank you for what you are doing for our students. I hear your passion and, perhaps more importantly, I hear your struggle and I want to make it better for you and for your families.

We know we have to do right by our students – that’s a given – but we also have to do everything we can do to do right by our employees.

For a typical para-professional, the 11 and a half to 14 and a half dollars an hour average pay means they can’t afford to live in this city.  They are devoted to ensuring some of our highest needs students find success and they provide critical support to the classroom teacher.  Para-educators like Kushana and Michelle are committed to their schools and students and they are deserving of a salary that better reflects the costs of living in a growing and progressive city like Nashville.  That is why this year I am requesting that our para-professional pay be increased by two pay grades – at a cost of $1.3 million additional dollars – beyond the raises I am recommending for all employees.

Pay across the rest of our district must be addressed, too.  Our Human Resources team recently completed an analysis of current district pay scales as compared to other school districts and private industry.

  • We know we are competitive right out of the gate for an entry-level teaching position, but we fall behind competitive rates the longer an employee works for Metro Schools.
  • The study also reveals that while our salaries are competitive with surrounding Tennessee counties, we are less competitive with districts within a 450-mile radius; and our certificated, administrative and support pay scales all need adjustments to ensure we are competitive both in attracting and keeping employees.

To address the findings of that analysis would require a 4.5-percent increase in our pay scales at an estimated cost of $25.4 million in salary alone.

We are making the right moves to address this critical need.

Last year, employees received a 3-percent cost of living increase and those who were eligible also received a step increase.  Over the course of these past two years, if our budget is approved, staff will have received – at a minimum – a 5 percent raise over two years and individuals who are eligible for steps would have received much more.

Salaries are the single most expensive part of our budget so we know improving them is a long-term endeavor that will take multiple years and commitments from the Mayor’s Office and Metro Council.

I met with the Metro Council last week, and I delivered the report to Education Committee Chair David Rosenberg and Budget Chair Tanaka Vercher.  I know they will work with us and the Mayor’s office to discuss a strategic way to improve our employees’ salaries over the coming years.

In addition, this budget requests monies to hire 4 additional recruiters to support our efforts to attract and retain great employees and to provide dramatically better service to our schools.

Now, let’s talk about our students and their needs.

The great American educator and founder of Tuskegee University, Booker T. Washington, once said, “If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize your dreams.”  We have declared war on illiteracy in our district. Too many of our children are not reading on grade level and this is a challenge this city has wrestled with for more than two decades.

Our students are fortunate to have dedicated and exceptional teachers who are raising expectations and improving their skills to help them succeed.  Let’s take a look at the work of two of our literacy specialists, from Gra-Mar MS and Goodlettsville MS, and see how they are helping us to transform literacy practices within our schools. [VIDEO]

Erin and Anita, you are models of excellence within MNPS.  Thank you for supporting our teachers and helping them to become expert literacy practitioners.  Can you both please stand and be recognized on behalf of the entire Nashville community for the work you are doing for our children?

Last year, we made significant, strategic investments in both resources and staff to fight this injustice.

  • We’ve invested $18.5 million dollars from our operating budget and from additional grant dollars in work at every level of our organization: in our classrooms – in our schools – in our central office capacity.
  • And for the first time in our city’s history, an unprecedented community-wide plan has been created. This plan, the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success, aims to prevent any child from falling through the cracks.

Our goal is clear: We will double the number of students reading on grade level by third grade by 2025.  We know early childhood literacy is paramount to long-term literacy success, and this community-wide effort shows it’s not just Metro Nashville Public Schools committed to righting this injustice – it’s the entire Nashville community.

Recently, Ron Fairchild, senior consultant for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, reviewed our plan, visited Nashville and shared that our plan is a model for the nation.  Now, we must execute on our plan.  The Public Education Foundation has raised $1.2 million in private dollars to support this effort, and it hopes to raise another $1.2 million dollars to fully execute on year one plans.

As you can see, Metro Nashville schools are on the move, and as we move into this new year, we must continue to make strategic investments to move faster.

Another strategic investment we are proposing in this budget is dramatically increasing the amount of money we are sending directly to schools.  We know that our children bring whatever is happening in their lives into the classroom with them.  We know many of our students are economically disadvantaged and that we do not receive full funding from the state for all of these students due to how the state allocates funds through the direct certification program.

Under Direct Certification, only 47% of our students are economically disadvantaged.  Because the state does not count undocumented students in its calculation, and because some families who are eligible do not apply, we know this number is low and is not an accurate measure of overall poverty.  As a result, the District must bear more of the cost of addressing the effects of local poverty.  In addition, we serve nearly 11,000 students with special education services and have 17,600 English Language Learners.  These are realities that have a huge impact on student achievement and our budgets.

Our student-based budgeting model for funding schools provides schools the discretion to create budgets that best meet the unique needs of their students.  I believe that no one knows a school better than the principal, staff and parents in that school and no one can better determine what programs, supports and staffing will best serve its students.

I am proud to say we have increased the amount of money going directly to schools each year since introducing student-based budgeting three years ago.  The increased funding for next school year represents the largest increase in per-pupil funding yet, a 7.4 percent increase over the current year.  $14.8 million has been added to the SBB Pool of Resources over the past two years.  This year, we shared budgets with all school communities to help communities see how their per-pupil costs have increased or decreased.

We began discussing equity in our budgeting this school year.  Equity, to me, simply means understanding what schools need and engaging in conversations to ensure that schools have what they need to meet the needs of their children.  In a school system as diverse at MNPS, we need to make sure that the needs of our gifted students, special education students, English Language Learners, affluent students and economically disadvantaged children are met.  So often, we only focus on those students whose parents speak loudest to us.  But a great school system listens closely to those voices that may not always be heard, while continuing to work with all.  Under the current proposal, the majority of schools have increased spending power to provide more resources to their schools.

  • Under this budget proposal, schools will receive nearly $5.2 million more dollars to meet the needs of special education students and an additional $2 million for English Learners. These dollars will help schools provide additional supports and services to our neediest students.
  • In his final public sermon titled “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution” given at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, Dr. King reminded us of a parable of a man who did not prosper because he did not see the poor. The rich man, otherwise known as Di-vees, was said to have the finest clothes and lived the good life.  And there was a man by the name of Lazarus who was a poor man, but not only was he poor, he was sick.  Lazarus managed to get to the gate of Dives every day, wanting just to have the crumbs that would fall from the table.  And Dives did nothing about it.  And the parable ends saying, and I will paraphrase, “Dives did not prosper and there was a fixed gulf now between Lazarus and Dives”.

I share this story because right here in Nashville, one of the up-and-coming cities in our nation, we have challenges that need our attention.  Now more than ever, we must be able to truly understand our full school system’s needs and try to better utilize precious resources to support all of our children in all of our schools. And like the Dives, we can do something about it.

We recognize that if the social-emotional needs of our children are not met, and if our students continue to be suspended at high rates, we may perpetuate the school to prison pipeline and this is unacceptable.  As such, we are proposing to dramatically enhance the infrastructure of our social-emotional learning work by staffing a quadrant support structure to train more than 3, 000 teachers annually on an SEL model.

We know our schools are safer when we can train the adults within our buildings to know their students and help students understand their own triggers and ways to de-escalate their emotions.  Nashville is seen as a national model in working to support social-emotional learning and we have a number of schools doing exceptional work in this area.  Few schools are doing this work better than Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option School under the leadership of Mr. Mathew Portell.  Let’s take a closer look. [VIDEO]

Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  Mr. Portell, thank you for being committed to building strong children at Fall-Hamilton with your amazing staff.  Can we show Mathew and his staff some love for his efforts?

In addition, to building out the infrastructure for stronger Social-Emotional Learning practices, I am proposing 15 College and Career Counselors to our high schools.  My conversations with hundreds of high school students led me to understand how critical these positions are for our students.  Let me introduce you to a college and career counselor who is making a difference at Pearl Cohn High School. [VIDEO]

Connie and Asia are here with us today.  Could you please stand?  I know everyone in this room wishes Asia all the best at Belmont.

Connie, and counselors like her across the district, are making a difference for countless students like Asia and helping them to navigate the college application process.

It was one thing I heard consistently across the board when I met with students – we need more help with preparing for college. The Nashville Public Education Foundation and the Tennessee College Access and Success Network released a report on college access and completion rates for our graduates just a few weeks ago.  Their study showed that 24 percent of our graduates earned a college degree within six years of graduation.  At a time when an estimated 60 percent of jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, that number is just not high enough.

The final SEL investment I am proposing is to build upon our nationally recognized Community Achieves work.  We know the community schools model is successful and – most importantly – impactful for our students and their families. During this next year, we will invest and expand these efforts:

  • Community Achieves will continue to support the 18 current schools implementing the full-service model
  • We are expanding the scope of Community Achieves to focus on elementary chronic absenteeism.  This will be done in partnership with Communities in Schools, one of our district partners that is providing similar supports in 18 additional schools, to provide case management and support for chronically absent students in our elementary schools that have the highest rates of truancy and chronic absenteeism.
  • We will continue to work with Alignment Nashville to explore ways to address health disparities and chronic health conditions among our students.
  • Lastly, we are adopting new national community school standards that align to the district’s Key Performance Indicators and the goals we have set for the Community Achieves program.

Another priority investment last year that will continue in this budget is the implementation of STEAM in our middle school curriculum.  In Nashville, approximately one-third of all new jobs are in a STEAM field. I first announced our intention to transform all of our middle schools to STEAM middle schools during last year’s State of Schools address.

At that time, I said I hoped this interdisciplinary instructional would inspire our students, challenge our students and motivate our students, all while helping them develop their own self-confidence by realizing the unique talents they will one day bring to the workforce.

Today, I want to show you what that work looks like where it matters most – in our classrooms.

I believe – and the video we just watched together shows – our STEAM work is already having a major impact in our middle schools.

Our students are finding their voices – through a rigorous approach that challenges them to think critically, to think creatively, to communicate with one another and to collaborate with their peers.

This year, 18 schools have laid the groundwork for a transformative shift in our middle school classrooms and we’re committed to getting this right for our students.

We know we can’t do this without our teachers and administrators – and this year we’ve supported them in ways we never have before with intensive professional development.

  • This year alone, our teachers have completed more than 11,000 hours of STEAM professional development, including specific arts-integration professional development. Their commitment to innovation has been transformative in our classrooms.
  • We’ve also invested in technology and advanced academics to ensure our students have access to rigorous instruction that will prepare them for their futures.
    • Every Phase I STEAM school now has a two-to-one technology ratio. This means our students have access to learn and interact with the technology they’ll experience in high school.
    • We reintroduced honors English in all middle schools – and next year we plan to reintroduce honors math and science for all students in grades five through eight. By providing these advanced opportunities, we are offering the challenge our students need to move toward their greatest potential.
  • And our community partners have stepped up to ensure our students have meaningful curriculum-career connections and opportunities in STEAM industries. Students can’t be what they can’t see – and our community partners across the city are helping our students see and shape their futures.
    • For example, at Croft Middle School, we expanded our partnership with the Nashville Zoo to create a new virtual zoo concept for students, and I.T. Creswell Middle School is using interdisciplinary approaches to teach students about construction and design.

And community partners are helping our schools reach their fullest potential. As recently as last week, Dell Technologies announced four of our phase two and phase three schools will each receive a grant, up to $2,500 dollars to help enhance their STEAM curriculum.

We’re also focused on leveraging community assets with our partners at PENCIL and through Alignment Nashville. And we have an advisory council – one that represents 20 different organizations from every sector of this city – helping us lead this transformative work.

We believe what we’re doing in the classroom won’t just impact our schools –it will impact the entire Nashville community.

Our students will graduate Metro Nashville Public Schools and head to whatever is next for them – be it college or a career – with a great understanding of how they can impact their cities and how their unique skill set can be applied across many industries.

As we move forward, I want to say our schools and our district are so fortunate to have such tremendous support from our entire community.  We have incredible community partners who are active throughout the district – people who are engaged in all areas to help us in our work. This is work we cannot do alone.   I want to specifically recognize our partners at Alignment Nashville, PENCIL Foundation, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Public Education Foundation and United Way for their commitment to public education and for helping us as we work to meet the goals we have set.

I also want to recognize all the hundreds of community partners who work directly with schools and students daily – partners who work with our Academies of Nashville, who volunteer in literacy initiatives and who serve in countless other ways.  If you are a community partner, please stand so we can share our appreciation.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the School Board.  There is a reason we are having this State of School at Overton High School beyond Overton being an amazing school.  Dr. JoAnn Brannon has served this community in many different capacities.  They include 34 years in the roles of teacher, consultant, assistant principal and principal in more than 21 Metro schools. She’s served as a school board member for the past 12 years with grace and excellence.  She has championed the needs of children, not just in this cluster of schools, but for the entire school district.  This will be her last state of schools as a school board member, and I think she deserves a standing ovation for such exemplary service.

Dr. Brannon understands that the job of a school board member is not to be a critic of the system.  The job is to be a champion for the system.  School board members have an amazing platform to help parents, politicians, and the business community understand the unique needs of our city.

We all know change is difficult. It takes courage to make decisions that may be right but may not be popular.  It takes courage to try something new. This board has worked together to create a vision and a mission for this district, to create a bold and intentional Strategic Plan that serves as the foundation and lighthouse for our work, and to hold the district accountable for ensuring our work is addressing the needs of all students.

We continue to have many challenges and we will always have much work to do, but our school district has much to celebrate and a reason for sincere optimism.

To conclude, Langston Hughes once shared:

There is a dream in the land
With its back against the wall
By muddled names and strange
Sometimes the dream is called.
There are those who claim
This dream for theirs alone—
A sin for which we know
They must atone.
Unless shared in common
Like sunlight and like air,
The dream will die for lack
Of substance anywhere.
The dream knows no frontier or tongue,
The dream, no class or race.
The dream cannot be kept secure
In any one locked place.
This dream today embattled,
With its back against the wall—
To save the dream for one
It must be saved for all.

Our efforts will ensure that the 86,000 beautiful children that we have within our school district can dream big, and this budget will help our children’s dreams move one step closer to becoming reality.

#MNPSVoices: Cameo Bobo, Coordinator of Board Operations


Cameo Bobo can always be seen moving swiftly through the hallways of the district’s Central Office and she is a consistent ray of sunshine carrying a smile on her face everywhere she goes.

“I’m not necessarily in a hurry to get anywhere, I just like moving quickly, I used to be a track star so I’m a natural runner,” Bobo said.

Bobo started out as a senior secretary to the board administrator/liaison for Metro Nashville Public Schools 12 years ago; however, she had other dreams as well.

“I actually wanted to be a fashion buyer and go to the Olympics,” she said.

Bobo grew up in Jackson, Tennessee and she always had a well mapped out plan for her future. While in high school she attended a college fair where she only stopped at booths that had Fashion Merchandising as a major.

“My choices were narrowed down to Ole Miss, Jackson State University, Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University,” said Bobo, who ultimately chose MTSU where she graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising.

Upon graduation, Bobo was excited to plow full-speed ahead into her new career in the fashion industry but life redirected her plans, as she welcomed a new baby boy into her life.

“I’m blessed to have him,” she said. “I don’t know where my life would be without my son.”

Bobo planted her roots down in the Middle Tennessee area and, for the sake of her family, decided to pursue a career providing a more stable schedule than the fashion industry.

“Due to my son’s age, it was more practical for me to pursue a profession that had flexible hours,” she said. “I chose MNPS, and it was a good decision for me.”

Bobo currently serves as coordinator of board operations where she supports the goals and objectives of the school board members and the district as a whole. She believes that starting her career in MNPS laid the foundation for who she is in her current role as well as in her personal life.

“My previous supervisors were great communicators and very organized people. They set the foundation but I have made this position my own,” Bobo said.

Bobo enjoys putting together events for the school board but also still has a passion for fashion. She has been a fashion designer for Nashville’s Fashion Week and started a mentoring program for young girls called F.A.W.M. – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. In addition, she has designed a line of F.A.W.M. girls’ clothing as well.

“I started the F.A.W.M. program because – I had two younger brothers and I didn’t have a big sister to help me navigate through those tough adolescent years,” she said. “I want to instill in young girls the value of self-love, self-confidence, and how to navigate through rough areas like bullying.”

While Ms. Bobo has no immediate plans to fully immerse herself into the world of fashion, she continues her mentoring through public speaking events and through her fashion line.

“I would like to continue my support of the school board members and Dr. Joseph in helping create a district in which our students are exceeding great expectations, every day.”

‘We Are Nashville’ event celebrates diversity through the voices of our youngest students


On Friday, March 16, more than 150 of our youngest learners from three elementary schools joined in celebration of Nashville and the city’s rich culture.

We Are Nashville has one goal: to ignite a passion and love for diversity in Nashville thought the young hearts and voices of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) students. Students were immersed in various musical traditions from the many cultures represented throughout the school district.


“We really want our students to do more than just notice physical and cultural differences,” said Bryson Finney, one of six MNPS employees that worked together to create this event, “Our goal is to teach them to appreciate and celebrate diversity and to learn from those around them.”

Throughout the fall semester, students from Granbery Elementary School, Andrew Jackson Elementary School, Thomas Edison Elementary School and Nashville School of the Arts participated in joint rehearsals and were given the opportunity to collaborate, communicate, perform and build relationships with students from all over the district.


After months of hard work, students gathered for a Day of Music at Christ Church Nashville and later performed for the community, their families and their friends.

As a finale, students even performed their theme song We Are Nashville, an original song written by Metro Schools’ Bryson Finney to a full audience.

One of our district’s Core Values is Diversity. Metro Schools is committed to ensuring all students value, respect and celebrate students, staff and educators from different backgrounds. ‘We Are Nashville’ is one example of that Core Value in action.

We Are Nashville was organized by these MNPS music educators and employees:

  • Christopher Blackmon
  • Ann Marie Morris
  • Franklin Willis
  • Kathryn Affainie
  • Nita Smith
  • Bryson Finney

The event was sponsored by Kevin Stacy, MNPS executive director of English Learners, Dr. Nola Jones, director of Music Makes Us and Mr. Jason Walsh Coordinator of MNPS performing arts.

Four Middle Schools Receive Grant from Dell, Inc.


What do a rollercoaster, a robot, a computer lab and a summer workshop have in common? These four projects were recently selected as grant recipients in the inaugural Dell STEAM Innovation Grant!

Four STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) middle schools have each been awarded $2,500 in grant funding through Dell Nashville’s inaugural Dell STEAM Innovation Grant.

These grants, specifically geared for the district’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) middle schools, will be awarded to the following four schools:

Each school demonstrated a commitment to enhancing their STEAM learning environments by sharing a project their students will work on, in which students will be challenged to think critically, be creative and communicate and collaborate with their peers. Those project ideas are:

  • East Nashville Magnet Middle School’s Rollercoaster Reality Collaboration.
  • Apollo Middle School’s Robotics Classes
  • Donelson Middle School’s Computer Lab Enhancement
  • Margaret Allen Middle School’s Summer STEAM Workshop

“We’re grateful to Dell and their investment in our students and teachers, particularly with our middle school STEAM curriculum,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “We know STEAM not only enhances the middle school experience but ensures our students are ready for high school, college and career. With generous partners like Dell by our side, we can continue to inspire students through STEAM and collectively improve student outcomes aligned with our strategic priorities at an accelerated pace.”

Recently, our 18 Phase I STEAM schools have opened their doors to families and community members to learn more about STEAM at STEAM Family nights. Metro Schools will continue the STEAM celebrations with STEAMTastic Saturday, this Saturday, March 24th. Click here for more information.

Dell’s Youth Learning initiative is aimed at providing technology and opportunity to students who lack access to these resources. Through grant funding, volunteering and support for local non-profit partners, Dell believes that technology is a powerful tool for opening new possibilities for children around the world.

Grant funds will be distributed by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Teachers and administrators for each school will be responsible for the allocation of the funds.  Each school will use its grant to enhance innovative programs and STEAM initiatives in the classroom. The recipients of the grants were chosen by a cross-community panel composed of community, business and nonprofit leaders.

For more information on STEAM in MNPS, visit mnps.org/STEAM or follow @MNPS_STEAM

#MNPSVoices: Sherry Mabry, Coordinator of Safety and Training


Sherry Mabry, a 23-year veteran of Metro Nashville Public Schools’ transportation department, believes something as simple as a smile can brighten a child’s day.

“A bus driver can sometimes be the first smile a child sees and the last smile in some child’s day,” she said. “It helps to start their learning day out on a positive note.”

And Mabry has been delivering smiles to children since joining Metro Schools in 1995 as a bus driver and has worked her way up through the department. She now serves as coordinator of safety and training providing support to Metro Schools’ large fleet of bus drivers.

Mabry was first drawn to a career as a bus driver because of her love of children. “Our family would have get-togethers and I was usually on the floor playing with the children,” Mabry said. “My mother-in-law would say, ‘You should drive a school bus,’ and I thought, ‘Hey I’ll give it a try.’ [It’s the] Best job ever!”

In addition to giving her the opportunity to interact with children, being a bus driver also provided Mabry with a flexible schedule as a working mother.

“I started when my son went to Kindergarten,” Mabry said. “It was perfect. When schools were closed, I was home with him and could take field trips with him in the middle of the day.”

Mabry’s current role gives her less face time with students, but she still enjoys having the opportunity to meet different people. As coordinator of safety and training, Mabry is responsible for hiring drivers, helping them pass their driving tests and certifications and teaching classes to new and current drivers.

Mabry has had a long and successful career with Metro Schools serving as a driver, driver training specialist and now as a safety and training coordinator, but one position stands out as the most important to her.

“I would say a defining moment in my career would be when I became a Third Party Tester through Metro Schools for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security,” Mabry said. “I enjoy being able to help people get their CDL [Commercial Driver’s License] to drive a school bus.”

Although Mabry has held various positions throughout her career with Metro Schools’ transportation department, she said one thing remains the same – she loves her job.

“There have been moments I have told my husband, ‘I can’t believe they pay me to do this job, I would do it for free,’” she said.

Summer camp and program registration now live on Metro Schools website


Tomorrow is only the first day of spring, but it’s not too early to explore the MNPS summer camps and program options! Metro Schools and other municipal and community organizations are hosting several summer programs and activities for families. Whether your child wants to learn about STEAM at their district school or curriculum around animals at the Nashville Zoo, our list of camps has a variety of programs that will suit your child’s interests. The list of school offerings and community camps is now live on mnps.org/summer-camps.

The MNPS summer camps and program website gives you the ability to search by grade and by quadrant so that you can find a camp close to your home and specific to your child’s interests. These camps have limited spots and fill up quickly, so it is important to register soon! Each camp has a different way to register listed on the information card on the webpage. Last year, MNPS placed an increased focus on our camp offerings, doubling the size of many programs and expanding the range of opportunities offered to students to promote literacy and prevent summer learning loss so there should still be plenty to choose from.


It is important to keep your child actively engaged during the summer break to continue their academic growth. A study by National Summer Learning Association found that during the summer break students lose two months of math skills. Low-income students also lose two-plus months of reading achievement and approximately 90 percent of teachers spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year. That is valuable time teachers could use to push students forward – and this is something academic summer camps can help to prevent.

Summer camps and programs support our goals outlined in the Strategic Framework and directly impact many areas and related actions. Metro Schools is committed to creating an environment that promotes active student engagement and consistent improvement in academic achievement among students from all backgrounds and programs. To achieve that we must provide equitable access—across MNPS schools and clusters—to a high- quality well-rounded education. Camps and programs are provided at many locations across the district, some with transportation available and most with full meals or snacks provided.


These programs serve as a support system linking families to the resources and tools they need to be effective partners in the academic success of their child. As we get closer to summer, more camps will be added to the website so continue to check back for more options.

Explore summer camps and programs here.

Metro Schools highlights STEAM work with STEAM Family Nights


Bringing STEAM – its inspiration and innovation – to life. That’s the goal for STEAM Family Nights.

For the last four weeks Metro Nashville Public Schools’ eighteen STEAM middle schools have hosted students, families and community partners for interactive, energetic events to showcase its STEAM program.

During each night, families have an opportunity to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum with interesting and exciting hands-on activities that focus on creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Families and students visit different stations, each with a unique activity to complete. The activity at each station demonstrates how STEAM education is inspiring our students in the classroom and preparing them to succeed in high school, college and career.

Creswell School of the Arts was one of the first Phase I schools to host a STEAM Family Night and invite families to experience STEAM first-hand.

“It was so exciting to see parents get excited and get involved in STEAM activities. This type of learning is new for our families and STEAM Night allowed our families to see what is happening new in the middle grades,” said Trellany Lane, principal at Creswell Middle School of the Arts.  “We saw parents who were tenacious, competitive, creative and eager to approach learning in a different way.”

What was the crowd’s favorite activity at Creswell? The aluminum foil tower, said Lane.

“We had parents who would not leave the room until they had the highest structure,” Lane said. “Schools rarely create opportunities for children and parents to create and engage with content and STEAM [family] Night allowed school and family to interact in a manner that I hope will continue.”

We still have a few weeks left – join us at an upcoming STEAM Family Night:

For more information on STEAM in MNPS, visit mnps.org/STEAM or follow along at: @MNPS_STEAM

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