It all started with “Amazing Grace,” a traditional gospel song that Franklin J. Willis sung during an audition at the Nashville School of the Arts. His rendition not only landed him a spot at the performing arts school, but also led to a lifelong career in music education.
After graduating from NSA in 2003, the Nashville native headed west to attend the University of Memphis. From there, he began his teaching career at Vollentine Elementary School organizing the school’s first choir which attracted over 60 students. After two years, he decided to make his way back to middle Tennessee, where he has spent the last eight years working in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
This year, a select group of Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School students received a real-world look into the music industry business as a part of the inaugural Bonus Tracks Program with Capitol CMG. Nashville is only the second city to be invited to implement this unique program. The class recruited 20 dedicated 10th through 12th graders, teacher Dr. MarQo Patton, and music executive EJ Gaines, who serves as co-executive director and Motown Gospel/Vice President of Marketing with Capitol CMG.
“As we prepared to expand the Bonus Tracks program from Los Angeles to Nashville, I had a profound sense that we were embarking on something that would be impactful for the students and for the music community,” Gaines said. “But I had no idea how personally impacted I would be.”
The graduates of Overton High School’s Class of 2019 have been awarded $9.8 million in grants and scholarships and acceptance to several prestigious colleges and universities. This collective achievement marks a record for the school.
“We are so proud of the accomplishments of our graduates and the postsecondary plans they have for continued success,” said Dr. Jill Pittman, principal of Overton. “The spirit and excellence of Overton will be well represented all over the country. We wish all of our students the absolute best as they prepare for the next phase in their lives.”
Kamala Raghunathan is a 32-year veteran with the Metro Nashville Public School’s Information Technology department. She currently serves as an IT developer and program analyst supporting the district’s 167 schools with Infinite Campus.
With such a long tenure of service to the IT department, Raghunathan has seen the digital revolution boom in academic record keeping.
Students at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School reached a special milestone May 20 when the senior class officially became graduates of the historic school.
Among the hundreds of graduates included two Pearl-Cohn students who not only completed their requirements to earn a diploma as high school graduates but also gained the title of ‘first’ in their families.
Deondre Woodruff will be the first to ever graduate from high school in his family. And Tayonna Ewin, the first to go to college.
With the school year wrapping up, it is time for Nashville families to make their summer plans and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) wants to help. This year, MNPS is offering more than 60 summer camps and programs that aim to pique your student’s interest, enrich their learning and prepare them for the next school year. Families can go to www.mnps.org/summer-programs to find a camp by selecting your child’s grade.
Why do summer programs matter?
It is proven that students who stay engaged during the summer perform better than students who do not when they return to school. On average, students lose approximately one to two months of grade-level reading and math skills during summer vacation. MNPS is staying ahead of learning losses by creating summer environments that promote active student engagement and consistent improvement in academic achievement.
“My parents came to the United States to find a hopeful opportunity. They told me about the societies they grew up in and I always think about how fortunate [I am to live in] the country I live in. Ever since I was in seventh grade, I had an incentive to work hard to fulfill myself. I never thought I would be Salutatorian, because I am [a] first-generation American graduating from high school and going into college.” - Julie Martinez, a Metro Nashville Public Schools salutatorian from Nashville School of the Arts
This story rings true not just for Julie, but for many of the 14,000 active English learners (EL) in Metro Nashville Public Schools. On average, MNPS welcomes more than 1,000 EL students into our schools and classrooms every year. Our students come to us from more than 130 different countries. We believe our diversity makes us stronger – it tells a unique story, enriches the conversations in our classrooms and the connections in our schools and neighborhoods.