Academies of Nashville
In 2006-2007 Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) zoned, comprehensive high schools decided to implement the academy model, in which all students became part of a smaller learning community, or academy, within their larger school. Each of the district’s 41 academies in its 12 zoned high schools offers the core academic subjects required for graduation and postsecondary education, as well as courses in a particular career pathway or theme.
From the beginning, the Nashville Chamber was one of several community organizations invited by Metro Schools and Alignment Nashville to design key elements of the high school reform model that would eventually become known as the Academies of Nashville. In particular, Chamber staff helped create a three-tiered structure of business engagement to support the district’s career and theme-based academies (academy partners, partnership councils, CEO Champions) and identified key roles and responsibilities for community partners. The Chamber also supplied regional workforce projections to help guide the type and number of school system academies.
Academies of Nashville Partnership Councils
The Nashville Chamber staffs the work of five industry-based partnership councils, which advise, assist and advocate for their related academies. More than 100 business leaders serve across these five committees with educators. At each meeting, the partnership councils review a dashboard of indicators for each of their related academies and share information about their industry that may impact academy offerings, curriculum, and student opportunities. The Health and Human Services Partnership Council, for example, provides and guidance and support for the district’s eight health-related academies.
Academies of Nashville Awards
Each May, the Chamber hosts an evening gala modeled after the Oscars that recognizes outstanding business/school partnerships and excellence in educational leadership. Nominees for 15 different award categories are typically announced in March, followed by an online ballot that is completed anonymously by school district employees and academy business partners, as well as a judging process. Community leaders announce the winners over dinner and music by opening the sealed envelope in front of an audience of more than 300. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the completion of the school year by recognizing excellence within the academies, inspiring all to raise their performance.
Other academy-related initiatives
Over the years, the Chamber has supported the academies in a variety of ways. These include sponsoring and planning an annual leadership retreat with school district leaders and academy stakeholders set priorities and track progress on the district’s 5-year plan for academies. The Chamber also provided the school district with the services of a branding and marketing company to develop the Academies of Nashville logo, tagline and communications plan. In addition, the Chamber sponsored a series of 12 Academy VIP Tours over a two-year period targeting elected officials, community leaders, and key stakeholders to promote a broader understanding of the academy model.
Freshman Career Fair
The "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair provides an avenue for Metro Nashville high school freshmen to explore a breadth of career areas. As opposed to a job fair where students visit companies, the career fair allows companies to collaborate to represent various career areas for students to explore. The majority of dropouts occur between the freshman and sophomore year. Our goal is to raise awareness and excitement that will allow freshmen to talk with local professionals about their interests and see the relevance of their studies.
The Chamber partners with Metro Nashville Public Schools to support this valuable learning opportunity. Students will complete career exploration research at school in preparation for their visit and learn about professionalism. They will also participate in an essay contest and other follow-up activities to show what they learned. They will speak with at least three booth volunteers, ask questions, and participate in hands-on activities. Students will also have the option of completing generic interviews through social media by using the career fair hashtag.
Interested in becoming involved with the "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair and helping our students prepare for life after high school? We welcome local participation to help make this valuable student experience a success. Register your business or organization now as a participant in the career fair.