Walking around Nashville Classical Charter School and Head Middle Magnet Prep, you can see the many similarities between these two high-performing schools. Throughout the day, students are engaged in a variety of enriching activities from standard academics to related arts classes. Lead by strong school leaders, teachers challenge their students to dig deeper and assist students that need an extra boost. These two high-performing schools, which both serve diverse student populations, set and hold high expectations for themselves, the students and their families.
During the Discover Great Schools tour on February 27, participants had the opportunity to see both schools in action and talk to parents, students and staff of both schools.
Here are three big takeaways from both schools.
Nashville Classical Charter School
1. Background: Located in East Nashville, Nashville Classical serves approximately 300 students grades K-3. Students come to Nashville Classical from all over Nashville, but many of the students reside in 37206. Who does Nashville Classical serve? 71 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch; 10 percent of students have an exceptional need (including autism, developmental delays, speech delays). At Nashville Classical, 9/10 students read on grade level and 2/3 read above grade level.
2. Teaching Staff: Nashville Classical has a talented and dedicated staff of school leaders and teachers. Throughout the school year, teachers receive more than 5,000 hours of professional development. All kindergarten and first grade classes have two teachers, and grades 2 – 3 have two teachers for many hours of the day. This co-teaching model allows for teachers to meet the needs of all students – those that need additional help and those that need an extra challenge.
3. School Culture: Nashville Classical has built a culture of joy and love for learning. Each Friday, the entire school comes together for a “community meeting”. During the meeting, one student is selected and recognized as the “scholar of the week”. He or she wears a special blazer during the following week.
Additionally, in preparation for the upcoming state assessment, staff decided they wanted to do something extra to get their students excited about taking the assessment. They went to their families and to ask what gets their kids excited. The answer? Legos! Now the third grade classes are decorated in Lego themes and each day at lunch a third grader is recognized for working hard and awarded Lego glasses to wear until the next day. Also, third graders can win individual Legos throughout the day. Just another way that Nashville Classical takes learning seriously, but makes it fun!
Head Middle Magnet Prep
1. Background: Located west of downtown, Head Middle Magnet Prep serves approximately 550 students. As an optional enrollment school, students come to Head Middle from all over Nashville. Head Middle does not have an academic requirement to enroll, but students that do meet the academic requirements at the end of middle school can directly enroll into MLK Magnet School. In recent years, it has been the most requested school in the optional school lottery, and it has a waiting list of almost 350 students. It is in the top 11 percent of K-8 schools in Tennessee.
2. Curriculum: In addition to traditional subjects, students have the opportunity to pursue their individual interests and talents. Head Middle has a strong related arts program which includes courses like chorus, band, art, strings and Latin. The school also holds a schoolwide science fair each year during which students present a prototype that they spent months researching, planning and building. Head also offers a few high school credit courses for students looking for an extra challenge.
3. Family Engagement: Head Middle emphasizes the importance of strong communication and collaboration with its students’ families. In addition to a weekly electronic newsletter with school updates, each teacher sends his or her lesson plans to parents so that they know what their student will be studying, working on and submitting that week. One Head Middle parent at the tour talked about how this has helped her better support her daughter throughout the year. She appreciated the open flow of communication.
Another insightful Discover Great Schools tour in the books, and looking forward to many more. Are you interested in participating in a Discover Great Schools tour? Sign up here to receive alerts on upcoming tours.