Rita McDonald's Blog

RSS feed

  • Chamber, MNPS Announce Date of 2015 Academies of Nashville Awards

    by Rita McDonald | Oct 14, 2014
    The Nashville Area Chamber and Metro Nashville Public Schools have set Monday, May 18, as the date for the 2015 Academies of Nashville Awards. The fifth annual event will recognize the outstanding teachers, principals, schools and business-school partnerships in Metro high schools that comprise the Academies of Nashville (Antioch, Cane Ridge, Glencliff, Hillsboro, Hillwood, Hunters Lane, Maplewood, McGavock, Overton, Pearl-Cohn, Stratford, Virtual School and Whites Creek).

    Next April, hundreds of educators and business partners will vote for the award winners in 15 categories. All winners will be announced at the invitation-only awards dinner in May. For highlights from the 2014 Academies of Nashville Awards, see the video embedded below.

    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Chamber Leader Discusses Economic Development Priorities

    by Rita McDonald | Oct 08, 2014
    Economic development, a top priority of the Nashville Area Chamber, was the topic of the most recent NashvilleNext community conversation. Chamber Chief Economic Development Officer Courtney Ross was the keynote speaker, sharing how the economic development process works in Davidson County. Ross introduced her presentation with a definition from the International Economic Development Council: “Economic development is improving the economic well-being of a community through efforts that entail job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements and quality of life.”

    Growing our economy has emerged as the third-highest community priority during the NashvilleNext process, behind affordable living and transit. Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s success in creating jobs is the result of how the needs of clients – both already doing business here and those new to our area – are met as they look at land and real estate options, transit options, workforce/talent inventory, the quality of K-12 education and quality of place. You can watch a video of the complete community conversation below.

    It is clear that efforts to grow our economy require strong foundations in land use planning and zoning policy and the areas listed above as client needs. The Chamber, working with a variety of local and regional ...
    Go comment!
  • Metro Schools Introduces Middle Preps with Community Tours

    by Rita McDonald | Oct 07, 2014

    Middle school is a pivotal time for students, both developmentally and educationally. Success in middle school lays the foundation for continued learning in high school and beyond. For the 2014-2015 school year, Metro Schools has introduced the "Middle Preps" model, which represents a new approach to teaching middle-school students that better prepares them for college and career.

    The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors are hosting four Middle Prep VIP Tours this school year to introduce the redesigned Middle Preps to the community, and to share how the schools' vision, mission and values are aligned with the MNPS Strategic Plan.   

    Our first tour was last month at Isaac Litton Middle Prep. Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele discussed the district's vision and the middle school alignment, and Isaac Litton Principal Tracy Bruno discussed Isaac Litton's mission of being a first-choice STEM school. Finally, six excited student ambassadors led more than 50 business leaders, elected officials and realtors on an enlightening tour of their school.

    The guests witnessed fifth-graders working on pamphlets to combat childhood obesity; sixth-graders working with engineers to solve a stormwater ...

    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • NashvilleNext to Examine Economic Development

    by Rita McDonald | Sep 16, 2014
    Middle Tennessee is growing rapidly, and smart, proactive planning is essential to managing that growth. The Nashville Area Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040.

    The NashvilleNext process will continue this month with a community conversation about economic development – how new jobs are created in our region, how we attract businesses to the region, and how quality of life helps Middle Tennessee remain economically competitive. Courtney Ross, the Chamber's chief economic development officer, will be the featured speaker.

    The meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 29, 5 p.m., at the Adventure Science Center. We hope you can be part of this important public discussion.

    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Sophomore Shares Her Career Fair Experiences

    by Rita McDonald | Sep 11, 2014
    A Nashville 10th-grader told the Metro School Board Tuesday night that a visit to last year’s “My Future, My Way” Career Exploration Fair was her first step in discovering the range of careers open to young people who want to work in the entertainment industry.

    Jennifer Gomez is a student at the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communications at McGavock High School who hopes to study design and find work after high school which allows her to apply her creative skills. “The Exploration Fair was my first chance to really talk to people about doing design work in the real world,” Gomez told board members. “I learned a lot.” Her essay about her experiences at last year’s Career Exploration Fair won an award from Shoney’s and the Nashville Area Chamber.

    Gomez was joined by Shoney’s CEO David Davoudpour, whose company will be this year’s presenting sponsor for the event. “I’m happy to continue our participation for the fourth consecutive year,” said Davoudpour. “This event exposes high school freshmen to real career paths available in Middle Tennessee and motivates them to see the possibilities about their future goals, both in school and beyond. This also helps them to set their ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Looking Forward To a Great Year

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 29, 2014
    The Chamber’s Education Committee convened for their first meeting of the 2014-2015 school year on Aug. 26. Committee members are volunteer leaders in the Chamber’s multi-year strategy to improve K-12 public schools.

    Members heard from Chris Henson, Metro Schools' CFO, and Dr. Julie McCargar, executive director of federal programs and grant management, about the 2014-2015 MNPS budget.

    Henson and McCargar provided an overview of Tennessee's Basic Education Program (BEP) -- the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools -- as well as the process by which schools receive local funding. They also discussed the budget process, including how it is planned, how expenditures are allocated, and current and future capital projects. The budget, once created by MNPS, must be approved by the mayor and Metro Council. McCargar also discussed a number of federal revenue sources for MNPS, including grants such as Race to the Top and Title I dollars.

    The Education Committee also met new school board members Tyese Hunter (District 6) and Mary Pierce (District 8), who were elected in August and will be sworn in at the school board's first September meeting. They both shared their eagerness to help improve Metro ...
    Go comment!
  • Freshman Career Fair Set for Oct. 29

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 28, 2014

    Fair allows thousands of ninth-graders to explore career choices

    The "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair provides an avenue for high school freshmen in Metro Nashville Public Schools to explore a breadth of career areas. This is a first, important step to helping them understand how high school prepares them for college and career, and how the business partners engaged with the Academies of Nashville assist with that preparation.

    This year’s sixth annual career fair will host approximately 7,000 ninth-graders from MNPS’ zoned high schools, magnet and choice schools and charter high schools on Wednesday, October 29 at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville.  

    Prior to attending the career fair, students will have completed career exploration research, guided by their school faculty, in preparation for their visits. They will have also learned about professional dress and behavior. Once at the career fair, they will speak with business volunteers, ask questions, and participate in hands-on activities. In addition to the career fair and the career exploration research, students also participate in an essay contest, a social media campaign, and other post-fair activities to reinforce what they’ve learned and to help them continue to think regularly about their ...

    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Pick Your Nashville

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 12, 2014
    As you may know, the Chamber is a steering committee member and a pillar of NashvilleNext, the process to update the city’s 25-year master plan. For the last two years, we have worked with the Metro Planning Department and leaders across the county to find out what Nashville residents want for the future. Now, we’re wrapping up another phase of the public input process, known as Pick Your Nashville, and we want to make sure you're part of it.

    Based on your input in previous phases, the Planning Department has drawn up three “Futures” that affect everything from housing to economic development. We’re asking you to choose which Future you prefer by taking the NashvilleNext online survey or attending one of the remaining NashvilleNext Lounges, where you can speak with city planners about what’s important to you.

    These Futures offer very different versions of how Nashville could grow. We could continue our current patterns under “Business as Usual,” or we could create hubs of economic activity throughout the county under “Centers with Adjacent Infill.” If you’d prefer to see a stronger downtown that branches out along the county’s transportation arteries, “Downtown and Pikes” ...
    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Join the Transportation Conversation

    by Rita McDonald | Jul 24, 2014
    As Nashville grows, it's more important than ever that we, as a community, develop long-term solutions that help residents, workers and visitors access our city. The Chamber has made transit and mobility one of our top priorities because we know it is crucial to our region's continued prosperity.

    We encourage you to attend the NashvilleNext Community Conversation about transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 4-6 p.m., at Municipal Auditorium, 417 Fourth Ave. N. The special guest speaker will be Gabe Klein of the Urban Land Institute, who has served as transportation chief for Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    The Nashville Area Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040. As city planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years, it's essential for them to hear from local leaders like you. Please plan to participate in this meeting. You can RSVP for the event here, and explore different options to arrive at the event here.

    Go comment!
    Category: Transit
  • Guiding Growth in Nashville's Communities

    by Rita McDonald | Jul 03, 2014
    Nashville's future prosperity depends on deliberate, smart planning that will set the stage for our city to remain economically competitive. That's why the Nashville Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040.

    The NashvilleNext process continues this month with a public conversation about culture and "placemaking" – how the built environment can better support the unique cultures of Nashville's many diverse communities.

    The next meeting will be held Thursday, July 10, 6-7:30 p.m., at Metro Schools' Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave. Craige Hoover, director of the Southeast region for LiveWorkLearnPlay, will be the featured speaker.

    As city planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years, it's essential for them to gather feedback throughout our community, including local business leaders. We hope you can make time to participate in one of these constructive conversations.

    Go comment!
    Category: General