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  • Education Committee Explores Legislative Priorities

    by Rita McDonald | Mar 07, 2016

    The Chamber's Education Committee reconvened at the offices of ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education for their third meeting of the 2015-2016 school year in February. ChanceLight President and CEO Mark Claypool welcomed committee members and explained his company's work as the nation’s leading provider of behavioral therapy and alternative and special education programs for children and young adults.

    The February meeting focused on an in-depth discussion of legislative issues. Committee members were excited to have a Q&A with Rep. Mark White, chair of the Tennessee House of Representatives' Education Administration and Planning Committee. The meeting also provided status updates on the Chamber's state and Metro legislative priorities, which include the following bills:

    • HB 1485/SB 1899 – Quality Pre-K – With the surprising and inadequate results of the Vanderbilt study that was released last September, this bill is a proactive approach to improving the pre-K program in Tennessee. As school districts annually apply for pre-K dollars, this bill will require them to do the following: have a plan for parental/family involvement; have a plan for professional development; have a plan for collaboration between pre-K educators and elementary school educators; and utilize the portfolio growth model as the evaluation of performance.
    • HB 2022/SB ...
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    Category: Education
  • VIP Guests Impressed By McKissack Middle Prep

    by Rita McDonald | Mar 01, 2016

    The Nashville Area Chamber, Nashville Metro Public Schools and Greater Nashville Association of Realtors hosted this school year's third and final Middle Prep VIP Tour to Moses McKissack Middle in February.

    More than 60 attendees, including Vice Mayor David Briley; Metro Council members DeCosta Hastings, Scott Davis, Bob Mendes, Dave Rosenberg, Ed Kindall, Erica Gilmore, Jacobia Dowell, Jim Shulman, Mina Johnson and Sharon Hurt; and school board member Mary Pierce, were greeted by student ambassadors as they entered the school auditorium. The program began with an inspirational selection by the school band called “I Am So Glad I Go to McKissack Middle.”

    VIP guests reported enthusiastic feedback about the student ambassadors who led the tour groups, as well as the leadership of Executive Principal Darren Kennedy and his team, and the school's business and community partners. “The building is so clean, and I love the college wall. I’m sure your students appreciate the way their school looks,” one VIP told Kennedy after the tour.

    “The academic culture of McKissack is clearly changing. I was so fascinated with the catapults I saw in the STEM classroom," said another attendee.   

    McKissack's student population is 357; the school's student-teacher ratio is 20 ...
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    Category: Education
  • Metro School Board Honors MNPS Freshmen

    by Rita McDonald | Feb 24, 2016

    Medicine and music were the prominent themes in a pair of essays submitted by freshmen from John Overton High School and Antioch High School following the seventh annual "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair at the Music City Center.

    The students, Lindsey Dao of Overton and Nolan Carasquillo of Antioch, were recognized by the Metro Nashville Board of Education at this week's meeting for their outstanding essays detailing their experiences at last November’s career fair. The "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair is held annually by the Academies of Nashville and the Chamber so Metro freshmen can learn more about what it takes to create a career they’re passionate about. More than 7,000 students toured the 2015 career fair, and each had the assignment to take notes about the potential employers they met and to write about what impressed them most.

    Dao wrote that the career fair helped her explore possible careers in health care; a conversation with a Vanderbilt University Medical Center physician helped her understand what she would need to pursue a career in pediatrics, her area of interest. Carrasquillo was impressed by the live performances of the Nashville Musicians Association, and his discussions with the ...

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    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Members Learn About Charter Schools

    by Rita McDonald | Nov 23, 2015

    educationcommitteenovemberThe Chamber's Education Committee recently reconvened for their second meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Laura Moore, Chamber VP of policy, shared information from the education portion of the 2015 Nashville Region's Vital Signs Report, released in October. Highlights included:

    • Residents with a high school education or less were three times more likely to have trouble affording basic needs over the last year.
    • Sixty-seven percent of survey respondents in the joint Nashville-Clarksville region felt they had adequate education and training to advance their career.
    • Seventy-three percent of survey respondents said having information about their options would make them more likely to pursue additional education.
    • In Davidson County, 52.5 percent of students enroll in postsecondary education after graduating from high school. Statewide, that number is 57.2 percent.

    Alan Coverstone, MNPS executive officer of charter schools, shared the authorization process for charter schools, which are public schools that operate under a contract, or charter, with the school board to operate within Nashville's school district. Charter schools in Nashville are subject to annual review by the school board, and are required to provide detailed academic performance records demonstrating improvement on student test scores, among other metrics. They also must provide their financial performance ...

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    Category: Education
  • Reflecting on the 2015 Freshman Career Exploration Fair

    by Rita McDonald | Nov 18, 2015
    Guest post by DeeGee Lester, director of education, The Parthenon

    For companies and organizations across the city, the annual "My Future, My Way" Freshman Career Exploration Fair provides an opportunity to connect with MNPS students and schools. Through fun and engaging booths and activities, businesses are able to touch young lives, stir student curiosity about all that is available for them over the next four years, and, in many cases, to ignite passion for a career pathway. As we actively participate in influencing their future, we take positive steps in building the future of Nashville.

    As an iconic symbol of Nashville, the Parthenon is committed to playing a significant role in the education of every child – from pre-K through high school and beyond. We are delighted to have been involved in the career fair for several years, recognizing that it is a potential "tipping point" in the education of so many of our students. With that in mind, we want to do everything possible to make their fair experience positive and successful.

    I am always pleased by how many of the 7,000+ MNPS freshmen who attend the fair later point to one interactive display or one in-depth conversation with ...
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    Category: Education
  • Be Respectful, Kind & Determined: VIPs Experience the Culture of West End Middle

    by Rita McDonald | Oct 27, 2015
    The Nashville Area Chamber, Nashville Metro Public Schools and Greater Nashville Association of Realtors hit another home run with this school year's second Middle Prep VIP Tour to West End Middle on Oct. 21.

    Fifty-five attendees, including Sens. Steven Dickerson and Jeff Yarbro; Metro Council members John Cooper, Angie Henderson, Mina Johnson, Russ Pulley and Tanaka Vercher; and school board members Amy Frogge, Mary Pierce and Jill Speering, were greeted and escorted to the school auditorium by ambitious student ambassadors.

    West End Middle is part of the Hillsboro cluster, which is the only K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum in Tennessee. Dr. Craig Hammond, principal of West End Middle Prep, explained the different approach to teaching and learning in an IB World School, which focuses on intercultural understanding and respect. One of West End Middle's goals is to produce students who go on to take IB classes in high school for college credit. There are three school-wide expectations for students: be respectful, be kind and be determined.

    West End Middle focuses on developing students' love of learning through an engaging approach. As our VIPs followed student ambassadors through the tour, they were able to see this approach in every classroom. Lessons ...
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    Category: Education
  • Oliver Middle Prep Wows VIPs

    by Rita McDonald | Sep 22, 2015
    The Nashville Area Chamber, Metro Nashville Public Schools and Greater Nashville Association of Realtors kicked off this school year's series of Middle Prep VIP Tours in September with a visit to Oliver Middle.

    More than 50 attendees, including Rep. Jason Powell; school board member Jo Ann Brannon; Vice Mayor-elect David Briley; Freddie O'Connell (Metro Council District 19); and Davette Blalock (Metro Council District 27); were welcomed by student ambassadors, as well as Principal Jeanna Collins and school staff. Guests were then treated to a spirited rendition of the national anthem, performed by the school band.

    Another favorite moment on this tour included a performance of "The Unbirthday Song" from the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland, which several guests praised as "extraordinary." The tour groups also saw a reenactment of Battle of the Books, a school-wide team reading competition. VIPs were able to sit in on an advanced math class and observe students working on art projects ranging from painting to mask-making.

    There are three remaining VIP tours planned for the 2015-2016 school year:
    • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., West End Middle Prep
    • Wednesday, Feb. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., McKissack Middle Prep
    • Wednesday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Creswell ...
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    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Members Talk Budget, Student Achievement

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 28, 2015
    educationcommitteeaugustThe Chamber's Education Committee recently reconvened for their first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Special guest Chris Henson, chief financial officer and interim director of MNPS, provided an overview of MNPS' $810 million operating budget and explained the concept of student-based budgeting (SBB).

    As opposed to the traditional funding model, which distributes resources to schools in the form of staff and dollars designated for specific purposes, SBB allocates money to schools based on the number of enrolled students. Each student receives a funding "weight" based on need.

    The overarching goal of SBB is to increase equity, transparency and flexibility in the MNPS budget. In the SBB model, students are funded equitably regardless of which school they attend, and principals are empowered to personalize their school design and innovate.

    Also at the meeting, Dr. Julie McCarger, MNPS director of federal programs and grants, explained the breakdown of funding the district receives from programs such as Title I and Race to the Top. In all, MNPS is projected to receive more than $77.9 million in federal and grant funding in the 2015-2016 school year.

    Finally, Dr. Paul Changas, MNPS executive director of research, assessment and evaluation, provided highlights of student achievement ...

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    Category: Education
  • Tours Give Community Leaders Insight into Middle Schools

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 13, 2015

    Middle school is a pivotal time in a student's academic career. The middle school years lay the groundwork for future educational success by helping students develop critical-thinking and study skills that will help them excel in high school and college.

    Acknowledging the importance of middle schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools introduced a new strategic plan for middle school redesign that gives students access to a greater range of educational opportunities, including project-based learning, foreign language classes and advanced academics offered in every school.

    For the 2014-2015 school year, the Nashville Area Chamber and the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors co-hosted four VIP tours 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. Nearly 200 business leaders and elected officials participated in these visits, where they got an inside view of middle schools by meeting the principals, sitting in on classes and talking with student ambassadors.

    Chamber members are invited to join us for our 2015-2016 VIP tours:

    • Wednesday, Sept. 16, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Oliver Middle Prep
    • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., West End Middle Prep
    • Wednesday,  Feb. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., McKissack ...
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  • Education Committee Wraps Up the School Year

    by Rita McDonald | May 28, 2015

    The Chamber’s Education Committee recently held their final meeting of the 2014-2015 school year on a positive note.

    Members heard an update from School Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry about the search for a new director of schools, who will replace outgoing director Dr. Jesse Register. Gentry shared the timeline for the board's interview process; the board's goal is to appoint the next director by July 23. She also answered committee members' questions about the qualifications for the ideal candidate. Gentry clearly stated that we need a person with great management skills; someone who exemplifies continuity and follow-up and who could execute the MNPS strategic plan.

    Committee members also heard an update from the education subcommittee, a small group that works with school and city officials to monitor the implementation progress of the recommendations from the Chamber’s annual Education Report Card. The subcommittee was happy to share that report card recommendations are being monitored and action items are in place.

    Education Committee members are volunteer leaders in the Chamber’s multi-year strategy to improve K-12 public schools. Special thanks to committee chair Becky Kantz, The Leading Edge, and subcommittee chair Derrick Free, Lipscomb University, for their leadership this year.

    We will ...

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    Category: Education