It’s Been A Year For Metro Schools, Let’s Lift Up The Successes And Celebrate Like Crazy

I could write about any number of terrible issues going on in this city and state, but instead, I choose to revel in the deliciousness of what the month of May traditionally means for Nashvillians who attend, work, and support public schools. We show love to teachers, celebrate charter schools, honor graduates, and cheer for students moving to the next level. Today’s blog continues in this tradition.

First, I want to congratulate the class of 2019 for their hard work and relentless commitment to their education. This year was particularly dysfunctional. In my view, the young women and men are graduating in spite of rather than because of the powers that be. Class of 2019, you are the real MVP!

Project LIT Community Senior Sendoff

I don’t know how many times I’ve written about the innovative, labor of literacy love birthed by Maplewood English teacher Dr. Jarred Amato and his students, but I’m sure one more time can’t hurt. After 3 years of reading and promoting culturally-affirming books, the addition of hundreds of PLC chapters and libraries in 48 states, Project LIT student founders are headed to a college yard near you (many received full rides to Belmont University).

This week’s Senior Sendoff celebration included one last book club meeting, amazing fellowship, and a memorable 50-person read aloud of Jason Alexander’s book For Everyone.

I will always cherish the read aloud and the look of pride on Dr. Amato’s face. Congratulations Project LIT Founders and to the teacher that changes students lives and challenges the literary culture along the way.

LEAD Academy Senior Signing Day

America loves to watch talented high school football players sign a letter of intent to play ball at Sports University on scholarship. It’s a fun ceremony that signifies the kid will take his skills to the next level and go to college without paying a dime of tuition. But I’m here to tell you, Senior Signing Day is so much more.

At LEAD Academy’s annual ceremony, the morning starts with a mini pep rally to get students engaged and excited, a video highlighting the stories of amazing LEAD seniors, a few speeches, then each student body performs their school’s chant crescendoing to the school selection portion where each graduating senior announced their major and college. It never fails to give me goosebumps.

But the magic of the event is in the modeling. The venue is filled with younger students in the charter school network. This event is as much for them as it is for the soon-to-be-graduates. They get see their next. The goals of graduating from LEAD and going to college are made real and reachable — even fun. Read editorial by LEAD CEO Dwayne Tucker highlighting the excellence and hard work throughout the network of LEAD schools.

Congratulations Class of 2019 LEAD grads!

Fun Fact: The academic signing day movement started with Nashville’s own Chris Barbic, founder of YES Prep in Houston and friend Donald Kamentz in 2001.

Charter Schools Week

If you admit to supporting charter schools in Dem-heavy Nashville, don’t expect to win a popularity contest.

We have mostly excellent charter schools in Nashville an very few struggling ones, and this, my friend, is the truth.

Nashville has only 29 charter schools educating approximately 14% of all Metro Schools students. We should be proud to be able to offer parents additional excellent choices, instead, privilege-hoarders and system-protectors claim charters steal funding from traditional public schools. Who exactly is entitled to the per pupil expenditure? (But I digress)

Further, according to the Nashville Charter Collaborative, our charters educate 48.6% economically disadvantaged, 77.4% Black or Hispanic, and 10% students with disabilities. More truth.

One more truth: 100% of charter schools are public schools and 100% of charter school students deserve better from the community of adults surrounding them.

I’m proud of our charter leaders, faculties, students and families. Congratulations on a job well done!

Black Men Who Lead, Educate And Inspire

Have you read the Tennessean editorial by Jermaine Gassaway, principal of Rocketship Nashville Northeast?

We’re doing this using the “windows and mirrors” approach. I’m a firm believer that students need “windows” that introduce diverse perspectives to their world and “mirrors” that help them see their own lived experiences validated and valued.

To give our students both windows and mirrors, the first thing I set out to do was recruit a diverse pool of teachers. Our teaching staff is now 75% educators of color.

Let me repeat this for the cheap seats: Mr. Gassaway’s teaching staff is made up of SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT EDUCATORS OF COLOR. As you were.

Check out the cool article in Nashville Lifestyles Magazine showing love to KIPP Nashville teachers, who happen to be black men, and black men who dress to impress. And their students love it!

“… KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary School (KNCPE), where 35 percent of the faculty is male and African American—both uncommon characteristics of elementary school staff. Here, using style and fashion to draw bonds, teachers and students form one-of-a-kind relationships, sharing lessons for the classroom and beyond.

One more time for the non-believers: THIRTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE FACULTY IS MALE AND BLACK.

Images are powerful influencers – for good and bad. But a recent tweet by local news reporter Brandon Marshall about his friend, Bryson McGuire a teacher at H. G. Hill Middle, had an amazing effect on this old blogger and hundreds of other doting Twitter-ers.

Congratulations to all Metro Schools students, teachers, principals, school staff, bus drivers, Central Office staff, and board members. It’s been a helluva year and you made it to the end.

Here’s to a strong 2019-2020!

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