Welcome to this year’s Education Report. The Education Report Committee is comprised of a diverse group of Nashville business and community leaders. We spent the latter half of 2022 listening to voices and stories from stakeholders invested in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS): students, teachers, administrators, business partners, nonprofit entities, and other education experts. The experiences we heard, combined with the insights and efforts from our committee, contributed to a report we are excited to share with you.
This year’s topic focuses on innovation through work-based learning (WBL) within MNPS. Given the relative newness of MNPS’s work-based learning program, we felt this would be an opportune time to provide insights. The various personal and professional experiences of the committee contributed to critical, insightful, and productive conversations on this important topic.
We hope this year’s digital report, the first of its kind, enables you to more easily maneuver through the sections and find where you fit into the equation. We firmly believe that education within Metro Nashville is a “whole community” responsibility and that we each play a role in creating success for our students. Whether you are a student, educator, parent, or business partner, there is something in this report for you.
We want to challenge you: If you see something that speaks to you within the report—do something! Connect with your local schools, be a champion for education in your workplace, invest in our future leaders…the possibilities are endless. If you have anything to add to these ideas, please let us know.
Students are our future. They are important members of the community, and we have a responsibility to prepare them to be productive, contributing community members in the future. Thank you for your time and your commitment to education in Nashville.
Within education, there are opportunities for educators to move away from the status quo toward a different approach to supporting students’ individual needs. In a diverse, urban school district such as Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), innovation can be the beginning of systemic or transformative change, or at the very least, performance growth for the district. As an example, Dr. Ricki Gibbs at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary saw his school struggling with absenteeism. To combat this challenge, the school, with community help, created The Warner Exchange, a community pantry where students earn credits to purchase goods based on their attendance. As another example, LEAD Public Schools struggled with performance and staff retention. To combat this challenge, they established a new employee value proposition, implemented a new performance-based compensation plan, and created a new talent development program. Ultimately, a culture of innovation allows individuals and institutions to more effectively address the ever-changing needs of our community. Examples of innovation can be found throughout the district; innovation is not a one-time initiative, but rather a shift in mindset toward continual improvement.
This year’s report aims to commend and support the steps taken by MNPS and community partners over the last two years to innovate the student experience by including work-based learning as a paid, for-credit opportunity within the curriculum. While the Academy model had previously incorporated experiences fundamental to the work-based learning continuum like field trips to businesses, job shadows and internships, it did not offer the paid practicum as a capstone experience for its senior high school participants. In a community with many economically disadvantaged families, working-aged youth may face the difficult choice to work significant hours in part-time jobs in addition to their school responsibilities. Integrating work-based learning into the curriculum provides students an alternate option of part-time employment with skill-based experiences, school credit, and an opportunity to explore career pathways beyond entry-level positions. These experiences ease students into postsecondary while allowing them to explore potential careers. Work-based learning also addresses broader community needs, including training a valuable future workforce for the city of Nashville.