Blog Archives

The Legal Aid Society is offering three days of FREE legal advice

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will offer free legal advice at the Metro Schools Office of English Learners located at 615 Fessey Park Road in Nashville on the following days:

  • Saturday, January 16
  • Saturday, February 20
  • Saturday, March 19

The office will open at 9 a.m. on these days. Volunteer lawyers working with the Legal Aid Society will provide advice on non-criminal legal issues such as landlord-tenant law, homeownership, wage claims, debt problems, and family issues.

View the flyer below:

Free legal advice- flyer-ENGLISH- Jan-March 2016-page-001

Spanish Arabic Kurdish
Somali English Burmese 


For questions about this event, call 615-259-8608.

Hillsboro High School opens an actual, working branch of US Community Credit Union for students to run


Hillsboro High School made history as it opened a working branch of the US Community Credit Union (USCCU) inside the school. Students will run and work in the branch as part of the US Community Credit Union Academy of International Business and Communication.

Today’s announcement also marked the official renaming of the Academy to include the USCCU naming rights. These rights are given for significant contributions to the Academy, including material supports, volunteer hours, job shadowing, internships, externships and more. USCCU is the first Academy business partner to earn naming rights at two different high schools: this one at Hillsboro and the USCCU / Gaylord Opryland Academy of Hospitality and Finance at McGavock High School.

For senior Ty Carney, a student financial service representative for the new credit union, his summer was unlike any other he had experienced, thanks to his paid internship at the credit union.

“I wasn’t just sitting at home like I normally do. Working at the credit union is something I will forever be grateful for. It has taught me that I am in control of my spending. I learned that I can make or break my future. Managing my money better has helped me plan and save money for the things I want. I have a better understanding of what I put my parents through when I surprise them with a text telling them I need $500 for a school trip that departs in a couple of weeks,” Carney said.

US Community Credit Union

Hillsboro, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the state of Tennessee, has emerged as an incredible school that is achieving at a high level. Community partnerships enhance the school even more, as students succeed by engaging more in school and in the community.

“Today we celebrate a total of eight branded academy partners across the district as well as two branded learning laboratories. To become a branded academy, a business partner must commit to at least $100,000 in donated community investment to an academy during the first year and $50,000 of community investment in the following years,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele explained. “The US Community Credit Union has far exceeded these requirements. Since their initial branding at McGavock High School, nearly 100 student interns have been trained, staffed and run a US Community Credit Union branch in their high school. Today these opportunities will be extended to Hillsboro High School. ”

Hillsboro High School Principal Dr. Shuler Pelham, who opened a bank account at the credit union after the ribbon cutting, remarked that the credit unions are well respected branches, often with high accuracy rates. Shuler is pictured below with student Ty Carney.


“This is what academies of Nashville are all about getting students excited about connecting what’s in the classroom with what’s happening in the real world,” Pelham said.

“It’s really fun working here,” said Hillsboro student Justin Stern, who said it is easy for students and teachers to open accounts – only $5 for a savings account and $10 for a checking account.

USCCU Chief Executive Officer Paul Johnson said there is no better way to embody the vision of the company of “people helping people,” than to “educate our students and provide them a real-life work experience… The Academies provide a pathway for student success.”

The credit unions have also been good for business, according to USCCU Chief Operating Officer Ben Johnson, since student employees have lower turnover rates in the summer and address what would otherwise be a work scheduling gap, he said.

“The students have really stepped in and filled that gap,” said Ben Johnson. “Our students at McGavock and Hillsboro have been some of the best employees we have had.” Some students have even been able to transition to full-time employment after high school, taking advantage of the company’s tuition reimbursement benefit as they continue on to postsecondary education. “We have retained at least one employee from each graduating class at McGavock for at least part-time employment since we’ve opened there,” Ben Johnson said.

Fundraiser Alert: Save money and donate money to schools all at the same time.

How can you save money on your family budget and give back to a deserving Metro school? PENCIL Foundation has made it easy.

The answer (duh.) is a coupon book! Yeah, yeah, we know. You’ve seen the coupon books for sale at some schools. But this one is different. It’s a wholly original book produced by the PENCIL Foundation specifically for Metro Schools.

PENCIL Pocket Saver

Click here to buy one!

The new PENCIL Pocket $aver includes money-saving deals from merchants all across Nashville (see the list here), such as a free trial class at the Nashville Ballet School, a free doughnut at Fox’s Donut Den, a $5 discount at Applebee’s, and buy-one-get-one free deals on admissions to the Frist Center, Belmont Mansion and Vanderbilt women’s basketball games. There’s also a travel section with discounts for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!

So how is it different?

  1. Price – This book is just $10.
  2. Schools get to keep $7 of that $10 price. That’s a higher percentage than schools earn from almost all other fundraisers.

Sales continue through Sept. 21 at about 40 participating Metro schools (see the list here). 

Many thanks to the PENCIL Pocket $aver sponsors whose support helps us keep the price of the coupon books so low and earmark so much of the revenue for schools. Sponsors include HCA TriStar Health, Aegis Sciences Foundation, Creative Artists Agency, DK Brand Strategy, LP Building Products and the Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation.

Because PENCIL is a nonprofit organization, the remaining $3 goes back into the community to support PENCIL programs such as LP PENCIL Box (our free school supply center for teachers) and free background checks for school volunteers, with a small portion used to pay for production costs.

If you prefer, you can also order your coupon book  at the secure PENCIL Pocket $aver page.

Remember: The Pocket $aver is a great way to help students, help schools, help PENCIL provide much-needed programs and help yourself enjoy some fantastic bargains. Thank you!

Donelson Middle Prep wins $1,000 shopping spree

Donelson Middle Prep hit the sweepstakes!

When Direct Auto & Life Insurance held a Back to School contest, a Hermitage woman won big – a gift card worth $1,000. But her prize came with a catch – she had to name a school that would win a prize, too. Only five schools across the U.S. won, including Donelson!

Ann Davids, Chief Marketing Officer for Direct Auto & Life Insurance, presents two $1,000 gift cards to Nereida Vargas (with her son, Kevin) and Donelson Middle Prep principal, Jennifer Rheineker.

Nereida Vargas was one of five people drawn for the $1,000 shopping spree from nearly 30,000 sweepstakes entries with Direct Insurance. Executive Principal Jennifer Rheinecker accepted the award on behalf of the school.

“For the fourth consecutive year Direct has provided nearly 14,000 free backpacks and donated $10,000 to local residents and schools,” said Ann Davids, CMO of Direct Auto & Life Insurance. “Serving local customers in the communities where we do business is very important to our company culture. Our community involvement and connection to our customers sets us apart.”

Thanks, Direct!

Click here for more information about the Back the School Campaign.

Nashville’s mayoral campaign leads to a donation for a Metro elementary school

Fall-Hamilton Elementary principal Mathew Portell is serious about making his school great - and parents will play a huge part!

Fall-Hamilton Elementary principal Mathew Portell is serious about making his school great – and parents will play a huge part!

At the tail end of the mayoral campaign – literally in the final hour – a ray of sunshine peeked out from the Fairgrounds Nashville… in the form of a donation for Fall-Hamilton Elementary!

Last May, the mayoral and Metro Council candidates took part in a fundraiser at the Fairgrounds called Kick Off & Corn Poll. The candidates and their supporters played games of corn hole featuring a picture of the mayoral candidates, and votes were cast by tossing bean bags. It was a fun and informal event during a long campaign, and the money raised is being put to very good use.

Tonight, the Fairgrounds presented Fall-Hamilton with a check for $4,068 at the school’s Family Barbeque. Principal Mathew Portell plans to put the money to great use jump starting the school’s brand new PTO.

“A school is only as strong as its community and parents. We are excited that The Fairgrounds Nashville has chosen Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option School as one of their partners!” said Portell. “The $4000 donation to the school is going to be used to start our newly founded PTO! Our parents are amazing and their voice is very important to us.”

Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Optional School is located on Wedgewood Avenue near the Fairgrounds Nashville. It’s a professional and caring environment that serves the educational needs of the students and parents. It benefits from partners in the local community like the Fairgrounds. Fall-Hamilton offers a learning experience that is unique to Nashville. Students participate in self-selected enrichment clubs every Friday. As a choice school, students are accepted from anywhere in the district. 51% of the student body attends by choice, not by school zone.

Way to go, Fall-Hamilton, and thank you to the Fairgrounds Nashville!

Three Metro Schools named SCORE Prize finalists for 2015


SCORE (the State Collaborative on Reforming Education) has released its latest list of SCORE Prize finalists. This year there are THREE (3!) Metro schools on the list, including TWO (2!) repeats:

New Vision is the new addition to this list, and KIPP and MLK both appeared on the list last year. The SCORE Prize recognizes the schools and school districts that are leaders in student learning, particularly those “significant and sustained academic achievement.”

From the SCORE website:

  • KIPP Academy Nashville is a public charter school serving roughly 350 students in grades 5-8, and the school was a SCORE Prize finalist in 2014. KIPP students outperform the state average in reading, math, and science, and the school has shown strong growth in math and science over the past three years.
  • MLK Magnet, a middle and high school, serves approximately 800 students in grades 9-12 in Nashville. Nearly 100 percent of the high school students score proficient or advanced on end-of-course exams in English II, Algebra I and II and Biology. MLK boasts a tremendous college-going culture – students have an average ACT score of 25.8 over three years, 100 percent of students graduate high school within four years, and more than 90 percent go on to college.
  • New Vision Academy is a public charter school in Nashville serving more than 175 students in grades 5-8. New Vision has experienced strong gains over the past three years across reading, math, and science. Student scores in science are more than 10 points above the state average.

SCORE Prize winners in each school category will each receive $10,000. The overall winner will receive $25,000. Winners will be announced October 26 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The event will be hosted by SCORE Chairman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and will highlight the outstanding work of the finalists. Musician and actor Charles Esten, who stars as Deacon in ABC’s Nashville, will provide a special musical performance.




Maplewood High School Opens New Automotive Training Center in cooperation with Bridgestone Americas and Firestone Complete Auto Care

Center is both a classroom workspace and operational automotive service center

Today Metro Schools leadership joined Mayor Karl Dean and Bridgestone Americas CEO and President Gary Garfield to cut the ribbon on the new Maplewood High School Automotive Training Center, the latest public-private collaboration to benefit Nashville education. Maplewood High School’s Automotive Training Center will give students hands-on experience working with top-of-the-line automotive technology and help them learn the business practices necessary to run a retail store.

“This is a significant moment in the history of Maplewood High School, and we are grateful for the investment in our students,” said Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson. “Maplewood and the Academies of Nashville are taking another major step in giving students multiple paths to success after graduation.”

“Maplewood High School’s Automotive Training Center is another example of how Maplewood continues to generate positive effects on Nashville and its educational system,” said Gary Garfield, CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “As a leader in innovation, this training center reflects our commitment to educating the next generation of automotive and retail professionals, using the latest technology, operational procedures and business practices offered in our Firestone Complete Auto Care tire and automotive service centers.”

The training center is the heart of the Automotive Technology pathway in the Maplewood Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It represents a contribution from Bridgestone Americas, which includes volunteer hours, assistance with making the curriculum Automotive Service Excellence- (ASE) certified, retrofitting the customer waiting area and equipment and materials worth more than $300,000. Metro Schools’ construction crews spent the summer building a new customer care center to handle the retail transactions and customer waiting area. The training center, staffed by Maplewood High School students under the guidance of their automotive teacher Twjuana “TJ” Williams, will be open to the public for repair services and tire installation. All revenue generated from service and sales will be reinvested into the program.

While working in the center during class time and after school, students learn specialized knowledge and skills in automotive technology and hear from guest speakers from time to time. The classroom coursework will be directly tied to the repair work they do in the center.

Through dual enrollment at Nashville State Community College or Volunteer State Community College, students will have the opportunity to earn up to three college credits in maintenance and light repair. They can also take the exam for the ASE professional certification, a key step in starting a career or post-secondary education in automotive technology.

“We are focused on long-term positive outcomes for our students, not just short-term gains,” said Henson. “That means looking beyond our school walls and empowering them with the skills and drive to succeed after graduation. We don’t have to choose between preparing students for college or career – we can do both and give all students a choice in where to take their lives next.”

Maplewood executive principal Dr. Ron Woodard has taken that focus to heart, giving students the chance to find their interests and passions while in high school along with the opportunities to pursue them. The graduation rate at Maplewood climbed to more than 82% in 2013-14, the highest it’s ever been, while scholarships topped $3.3 million. The Bridgestone Americas collaboration is just the latest for the school’s Academies, which have 46 local businesses and nonprofit organizations signed on as official Academy partners.

“Exciting times are on the horizon for our students and our community,” said Dr. Woodard. “As a result of our work with Bridgestone, students will obtain the knowledge and skills that they need in order to compete for higher wage earning positions. This is truly a life-changing opportunity that will foster hope and inspire future generations to succeed.”

Bridgestone’s support of Maplewood was made possible by the PENCIL Foundation, which is the organization charged with connecting business and organizations with schools. With PENCIL’s help, the Academies of Nashville have found more than 300 business partners to support academic pathways with materials, volunteers, job shadowing and more.

“Thank you to Bridgestone and the PENCIL Foundation for making this possible, and thank you to the teachers and leaders at Maplewood,” said Henson. “They have created a culture where this kind of cooperative project is not only possible, it is attractive to global corporations like Bridgestone. This is yet another sign that they are putting students first and are focused on their success.”

It’s Back to School time for parents at Parent University 2015

Parent U header

Parent U Flyer - EnglishYou already shuffled the kids back to school, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s back to school time for parents, too!

For eight years, the Parent University Conference has helped parents start the school year right with workshops, health screenings and community services. Families work with educators and district employees to learn how to be more involved in their child’s education and how best to support them in their academics.

There are also chances to win door prizes and get free school clothes and supplies. Plus, there will be free breakfast and lunch, as well as free childcare of parents who pre-register!

This year, we are honored to welcome Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Candice McQueen to speak with parents about what they can expect from their kids’ education now and in the coming years.

It’s always a terrific event, one that brings together parents, teachers and city leaders to talk about how we can all work together to help kids. Here’s what parents have to say about it:

“I’ve learned so much information and gotten lots of help. I really like how I am able to get information that I might not have gotten at other places and am able to actually speak with service providers.” – MNPS Parent 

“I feel better about sending my children to a public high school. I am happy I came and will spread the word to other middle school parents.” – MNPS Parent

Registration is free, and you can get a free ride on an MTA bus if you tell the driver you are going to Parent University. How easy is that?!

Register for Parent University online or call 615-298-6752
Saturday, August 15, 2015
8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Trevecca Nazarene University
Boone Business Center

333 Murfreesboro Road, 37210

Metro Schools and Metro Public Health make going back to school easy at the 2015 Enrollment Fair

School starts August 5, and now is the time to prepare! Metro Schools and the Metro Public Health Department have teamed up for a one-stop back to school shop at an Enrollment Fair on Saturday, July 11. At the fair, families can:

It’s a chance to make going back to school as easy as possible, so don’t miss it.

2015 Enrollment Fair
Saturday, July 11 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Lentz Public Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Pike

Enrollment Fair 2015

Volunteer in Metro Schools and help change a child’s life through reading

by Betsy Malone, FLIP volunteer

Betsy Malone with one of her FLIP partner student

Betsy Malone with one of her FLIP partner students

I have been a FLIP reading volunteer for three years. I do this because I strongly believe that every child can learn to read and that every child must learn to read. The skills of reading and reading comprehension are integral to the child’s success in school and to the child’s success as an independent learner outside of school. As a FLIP volunteer I have the opportunity to help students who are struggling with these critical reading and reading comprehension skills and to support the work the classroom teachers are doing.

Learn more about how to become a FLIP volunteer.

I have four students, and I meet with each student for 30 minutes a week. I cannot teach these children to read in 30 minutes a week, but what I can do is to give them the confidence and the skills to help them in the classroom. Each child has different interests, different learning styles and different ways to communicate effectively. For 30 minutes, each of my students has my undivided attention with my focus on that student’s interests and challenges.

For this short period of time, it is all about that particular student. I can use reading materials that interest that student, presented in a way that the student can understand with no distractions. It is a safe environment for the student to make mistakes, to try new methods, to find small successes. Hopefully this student returns to the classroom feeling a little more confident in her/his abilities and bolstered knowing that there is one more adult who cares.

FLIP is a unique tutoring program in that the tutor and the student work as a pair for the year. The tutor and the student form a meaningful relationship, and each looks forward to the weekly sessions. The tutoring takes place during the school day in a room or area designated by the school. The tutor and the teachers communicate with each other, so the tutor knows which skills need reinforcement.

I am a retired middle school and high school educator, and I have never taught reading. I had some initial anxiety about my effectiveness as an elementary reading tutor. The training and support given by the FLIP organization and the reading/learning coaches in the schools are incredible.

As a FLIP volunteer, you are a part of a strong team that is working together to help these students be successful. FLIP provides books, sheets, reading guides, and other basic materials. Coaches within the schools are available to talk with you about individual students and to guide you to additional materials. Librarians help select books of interest at the appropriate grade level. Other FLIP tutors in the school share materials and ideas they have found that are effective. Teachers keep you informed of the student’s progress, successes, and continued challenges.

I encourage anyone who is 50+ years and who enjoys working with children to become a FLIP volunteer. We come from all areas of town, have varied backgrounds, have different life experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity to take 2 hours a week to help four children who need you. And wow, you will get as much if not more from this than the children!

If you are 55+ and are interested in becoming a FLIP tutor, please click here or contact 615-743-3422.

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