Desperately Seeking Good News During Week of Renewal and Hope

Religious or not, it’s hard not to get swept up in this season of renewal and hope. I have needed a change of scenery after spending so much time calling out deficits in our education system and the acceptance of underperformance of students of color that is baked into our culture. Not to mention the stories of faux pas’, war, and death that take up most of the real estate in my social media timelines.

We need a break.

In that spirit, I’m dedicating this space to show some love for our director of schools, school leaders, and a few parents (374, to be exact).

To All Who Celebrate: Happy Easter and Happy Passover

Dr. Shawn Joseph’s Inaugural State of Schools AddressScreen Shot 2017-04-10 at 6.08.19 AM

“Metro Schools is Writing a New Chapter to Its Story”

First, the event was very well executed (so many bells and whistles!), but the student performances from I.T. Creswell Middle Magnet School of the Arts and its feeder high school Nashville School of the Arts stole the show from the anticipated main attraction, director of schools Dr. Shawn Joseph.

Second, I must give a shout out to Mayor Megan Barry who not only offered authentic words of praise but stayed to watch the address. I will always recognize this seemingly small gesture because of the significance of the city’s top executive sitting amongst education leaders, parents, students and other advocates.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.33.55 AM.pngAnd, finally, Dr. Joseph. I am extremely impressed with the goals of the budget. Additionally, I love the narrative of writing a new chapter to the MNPS story. This softly suggests the district will be changing up things without scaring off those content with they way things are. I’m cautiously optimistic, but optimistic, nonetheless.

If you have not watched the address, please enjoy by clicking on the link below.

Project Renaissance’s Great School Tourimgres

Thanks to my time with Metro Schools, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting nearly every school in our district, but this week Project Renaissance provided an opportunity to visit two schools new to me, Purpose Preparatory Academy and Cockrill Elementary.

The day started at Purpose Prep with principal Lagra Newman sharing very honest information about community expectations and challenges. While some of these things were hard to hear, the principal’s language not once revealed a sign of lowered expectations or accepting circumstances as an excuse for mediocrity. Every word was drenched in great expectations and excellence.

“In order to get different results, Purpose Prep must be different.” Lagra Newman

After leaving Purpose Prep, we traveled to the very diverse Cockrill Elementary. As the principal Cochrane noted, “everyone (teachers) here is here because they want to be here.” The school is surrounded by a rapidly gentrifying community creating severe housing issues for many of its students. The principal made another interesting point about the housing situation that forces her faculty to live out of county due to exorbitant costs. The love and concern for Cockrill’s students was evident during our tour.

Finally, the most valuable part of the tour for me was the wrap-up session at the end that included principals and staff from each of the schools as well as parents, education leaders, and community advocates. Because sharing experiences and best practices is a goal, right? Good stuff.

374 Charter School Parents Make Place at the TableScreen Shot 2017-04-13 at 1.01.27 PM

If you roll with me you know I’m crazy about all things parents – rights, advocacy, training, etc. So imagine my surprise when this Tennessean editorial signed by THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR charter school parents who brilliantly banding together in a demonstration of resistance to the school board and administration.

The charter school conversation is (was) owned by the anti-charter crowd who have been all too happy to keep these parents scared straight. Now, the parents who have chosen to send their children to charter schools have spoken and there is no going back. They have created a big, gaping place at the table and their voices can no longer be dismissed. Let the talks begin.

Shout out to the parents at the following schools:

East End Prep

Intrepid College Prep Schools

KIPP Academy Nashville

LEAD Public Schools

Explore Community School

Nashville Academy of Computer Science Nashville Classical Charter School

Nashville Prep

New Vision Academy

Purpose Preparatory Academy

RePublic Schools

STEM Preparatory Academy

Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary

Rocketship United Academy

Smithson Craighead Middle School

Strive Collegiate Academy

Valor Collegiate Academy

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