Nashville Summers Are Not All Cowboy Boots and Denim

Summer break in Nashville is in full effect, I know this because last night the CMA Awards kicked off the annual Country Music Festival. Also, schools have been out for two weeks and the great summer happenings are flooding my timeline. However, the business of education is far from adjourned.

June is hot for more reasons than the obvious as our city council has on its a lap a status quo budget proposed by the then-acting now elected mayor. This budget season caught Nashvillians by surprise. The city’s nonstop development, new businesses, and dozens of new residents per day contribute to the specter of a booming economy when we are in fact in the throes of a budget shortfall.

This week, Metro Council held a public hearing on the budget and dozens of school advocates showed up en masse to advocate for full funding. You see, last April the director of schools submitted a proposal to the then-acting now elected mayor who rejected the funding amount requested which forced the district to cut an additional $40 million from the budget. I’m sparing you the sordid details because interspersed throughout to this year’s budget process is a plum plotline that reads like a soap opera: The Bold and the Board. You can check it out here.

I am proud of the teachers and parents who stood at the courthouse for more than three hours to ensure their voices were heard before the Metro Council. Further, I’m grateful for councilmembers willing to listen and identify ways to neutralize the deficits.

Now we wait. The Council will vote on the budget June 19th.

Until then, let’s celebrate summer!  

Project LIT Community Holds its first Summit

DfAb4tsVQAUXWB9The newly minted DOCTOR Jarred Amato (awarded doctorate last month!) is holding the first-ever Project LIT one-day summit Saturday, June 16th. PLC chapter leaders from all over the country will be traveling to Nashville to honor the mission of PLC, fraternize IRL with people they met on Twitter, and hear from students as well as authors. Yes, authors!

Dr. Amato has connections, baby! Attendees will meet the authors of the books they’ve been reading and recommending to others. Young Adult authors Kwame Alexander, Nic Stone, Tiffany Jackson and Jeff Zentner will be blessing the stage at Nashville’s Maplewood High School. I’m proud to be a Project LIT Community member.


Valor Collegiate Blasts Averages and Forces New Ceiling

There is nothing I can say on this blog that will do justice to the news recently reported by Valor Collegiate’s CEO Todd Dickson. The school leader rightfully boasts unprecedented gains which, quite frankly, makes the MAP test look like child’s play. Congratulations to every single person within the Valor community; this is a ringing endorsement of staying the prescribed course and remaining committed along the way. I know this work is challenging, but they make it look good!

Here is a portion of the communication sent to parents:

Unfortunately, while we thought your children would give their best effort on the year-end, nationally normed MAP assessment in Math and Reading, we did not anticipate them taking our coaching to do their best to such extremes. It appears that they may have broken the MAP test this year. 😦

Our founding 8th graders, who came to us behind grade level on average when they started with us 3 or 4 years ago, literally broke the MAP scale in both Reading and Math!

For Reading, our average score at end of 8th grade was a RIT score of 229 points. The highest score on the MAP chart for high school is 222.3 points!

For Math, our average score is an amazing 242 points. The highest score on the MAP chart for high school is 235 points! I am now used to seeing these kids and teachers do amazing things, but this one is a truly remarkable accomplishment! I can’t wait to see where they end up after 4 more years of quality instruction at the high school!

Our 5th graders tested, on average, above 7th grade level on both Reading and Math.

Our 6th graders tested, on average, above 9th grade level on both Reading and Math.

Our 7th graders tested, on average, above the 11th grade level on both Reading and Math.

You can see a pattern here… 🙂

It is important to recognize that all groups of scholars came to us behind grade level on average. They are truly growing at unprecedented rates!

Summer Reading In Full Swing

Since the October 2017 release of TNReady reading scores, I’ve been on a journey like no other. Reading is the foundation from which everything else we do in school is built and if the foundation is faulty, so goes the rest. We know what happens to a child who grows into an adult with inferior reading skills. We know all too well. Yet, we do nothing, or worse, toss out half-hearted initiatives that serve as pacifiers.

But I digress. Today, we celebrate.

The Nashville Public Library hosts an annual summer reading challenge and Nashville’s children encouraged to read, log their books, and become eligible for an end-of-summer reading celebration. It’s a great way to promote the importance of reading and the love of books. (also see Project LIT Community)

Congratulations and keep it up!

Summer Meals Program

Some children depend on school meals. It’s a harsh reality for many children and one in stark contrast to the examples of prosperity seen throughout this city. Thankfully, Metro Schools is on the case! Meals are available at no cost to students 18 and under at the following locations:34745516_10156312127289890_2307169316589535232_n

Whitsitt Elementary School – June 4 to July 13
1-2 p.m.
110 Whitsett Road
Nashville, TN 37210

Pearl-Cohn High School – June 11 to July 6
12-1 p.m.
904 26th Ave. N.
Nashville, TN 37208

Antioch Middle School – June 11 to July 6
1-2 p.m.
5050 Blue Hole Road
Antioch, TN 37013


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