Valor Collegiate Takes Educating The Whole Child To Another Level

Imagine a classroom of teens sitting in a circle while sharing life’s difficulties and celebrations with peers who are actively listening and willing to publicly offer a hug or a pat on the back. Yes, a world where adolescent behavior is the goal, not a punchline.

One of Tennessee’s highest performing charter school networks is receiving national acclaim for its implementation of a robust social-emotional effort called Valor Compass. During a time when children are seemingly experiencing trauma at higher rates, Valor Collegiate proactively integrates into the culture a system that honors the student’s heart and soul, a human development component aligning one’s actions with their purpose, while balancing the heart and mind.

Valor Collegiate is a Nashville network of racially and socio-economically balanced charter schools in grades 5-12 nationally celebrated for its intentional diversity and high performance and is a new grant recipient from the Walton Family Foundation. Valor  Circle, a component of Valor Compass, has recently earned the attention of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization focused on inclusion, justice, and health founded by Priscilla Chan and husband Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame.

Circle is the heart of our experiential learning approach to human development. It is where the community comes together to support themselves and each other in their Compass development work. Student Circle takes place weekly in small mentor groups which are intentionally diverse, single-gender groups leds by a faculty mentor. Staff members also participate in Faculty Circle once per week.

Nashville is fortunate to have Valor Collegiate, a network of schools deeply committed to educating and honoring the whole child.

PLEASE invest ten minutes of your day with this video of Valor students and teachers in Circle. Be like a Valor scholar and thank me later.

4 thoughts on “Valor Collegiate Takes Educating The Whole Child To Another Level

  1. Great post.

    I shed my most recent Valor tear at about 4:40 PM last Monday, when I was driving by West End Middle School. There came the bright shiny valor bus, dropping off a load of kids, after what must have been a super-long day, right in front of an excellent traditional integrated zoned middle school that serves both affluent children, and children from public housing.

    Indeed, Valor has no children from public housing. And, every child who does attend has parents who have filled out paperwork to leave zoned schools. The last thing that should surprise is that the school has stunning test scores, and “positive climate”.

    Everyone should try to attend a Valor Charter Board meeting. You will learn about how testing can be shifted on a dime when our state fails to deliver and score. You will learn about funding. You will learn about the waitlists of students. You will hear from respectful, ultra educated, wealthy, un-elected (and likely un-electable) business leaders making incisive strategic decisions to move the school every forward on its march. Alas, when I last audited a Valor board meeting, I learned that none of our School Board members had even bothered to stop by. Think about that. We’re sending millions of dollars to private interests at Valor, emptying our zoned schools, and not even bothering to learn from these choice-segregated charter schools – which ostensibly was our Board’s original motivation for opening them.

    If leaving behind our poorest lowest scoring kids, playing lottery games with long wait-lists, and long drives across down…. If that is the right way to organize public education then we might as well open 6 more score-segregated magnet high schools to fill “parent choice and demand”.

    Or, perhaps we should just return to the 1968 zoning lines altogether, so that all our affluent parents have the same guarantees of “good culture” that Valor, Megis, and Hume Fogg (not to mention Williamson County) confer today.

    After all, parents in Williamson County, would never, ever, allow a Valor charter school to be placed next to their zero-choice total-commitment zoned public schools. Not at public expense today, not in a million years.


    1. Chris, your points are noted. You compare Davidson County to Williamson in almost every post. I don’t get that.

      I really struggle to understand what you are suggesting other than eradicate choice. Something only suggested by those with capital.


      1. According to the State of TN Dept of Education Report Card, you will find that per-grade enrollment at Williamson County middle schools increases over their feeder elementary schools. That’s in stark contrast to MNPS data, where 40% of our children leave zoned schools after 4th grade, across all clusters. Intriguingly, that “choice” of families is strong even in Fairview TN, where scores at the high school are lower, as we’d expect with the lower incomes out there.

        I am less anti-choice and much more anti-waitlist, anti-stress, anti-defunding, and anti-crazy-long-drive-across-town. If it is right to open score-segregated middle schools, and grant our “chosen” 4th graders auto-pathways to score-segregated high schools, then it is immoral to have a waitlist for the thousands of loser families who feel their only option is private school or Williamson County.

        I am less about “eradicating choice” than wanting to eliminate the drives of flight which destabilize the education of too many of our kids. In a perfectly equitable education system, every high school would serve a wide range of kids, and as a result have an ACT average score of 20, with standard deviation of 5. Every high school would offer the same range of courses, and every high school would have credible college prep. No one would have any reason to every try to lottery away. All the high schools would be interchangeable. That’s the vision that our comprehensive high schools were supposed to fulfill.

        Nashville’s transition plan brings us a tiny step closer towards that ideal. But, if we can’t even implement that plan, why not just go back to the 1968 zoning lines? After all, that’s just the “choice” most of my neighbors would make, if that choice had not been “eradicated” by the courts……

        95% of Memphis suburban voters voted to leave the central urban district when it collapsed and briefly included the suburbs. I really struggle to understand why you do not celebrate the stratospheric scores of Bartlett, Germantown, Millington, and Collierville high schools (Memphis suburbs), which are arguably the result of “choice”. Why are you not celebrating “choice”, in all its forms, if choice is the answer to public education? Are those parents so different from the parents of Valor kids?


      2. Chris, you bring up a great point about celebrating district annexation as a form of choice. I have to question if I’m ok with white suburban parents fighting for school districts with only white suburban families as I am black parents choosing schools full of black students. I’m not ok with the imbalance of power in the examples above where white parents create their own system of choice while black parents choose from a menu given to them.


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