Metro middle schools transformed into the Middle Preps of Nashville

Middle school reform efforts come together under a new vision and a new name

Middle PrepsNashville’s middle schools are undergoing a transformation. Metro Schools has reformed its approach to educating this key age group, resulting in a major culture shift. Today these changes were given an official title, the Middle Preps of Nashville, which serves as a symbol for how students in the middle grades will be prepared for high school, college and life.

This is a name change, but also a new course of action. These students are at a very important time in their lives, where everything around them and about them is changing. Middle Preps will focus on the individual student with personalized experiences and attention. These schools should be a student’s second home, where teachers challenge them with fun, interesting experiences that make them think. Students need to know they are listened to and cared about.

“They are not yet grown up enough to make all their own decisions, but not young enough to depend entirely on parents and teachers,” says Dr. Antoinette Williams, Metro Schools’ Executive Officer for middle schools. “Middle school students are an interesting group and present an interesting challenge. So we are challenged to change our approach to educating them.”

Similar to the successful changes in Metro high schools, Middle Preps of Nashville directly engage students in projects and activities that help get them excited about learning. This will lead to improved outcomes now and in a student’s future. Metro Schools Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele knows that engagement sooner, rather than later is key.

“We know from research that a lot of students leaving our high schools actually become disengaged in middle school and then leave a few years later,” says Dr. Steele. “This is really the basis for why we are prepping our middle school students for their futures.”

Metro Nashville Public School’s action plan for middle school is to broaden our student's academics, support them socially, emotionally, and ensure they can meet any challenge in college, career, and life. Specific action steps include:

  • Access to Extracurricular Activities for 100% of the Student Body Music, arts, athletics, intramurals, after school activities and other extracurricular activities engage students in school, encourage them to attend, and give them passion and energy that carries over into the classroom.
  • Focus on Transitions from 4th to 5th Grades & 8th to 9th Grades These transition years are key times for students. The foundations for success and failure at a new school are often determined early. We must preparing students before they move to the next level. That includes a new class called “High School 101” offered to 8th graders in the spring. It teaches the basics of high school, what changes they’ll see, and what expectations they will meet.
  • Access to Advanced Academics for Everyone Every middle school will offer at least one class for high school credit, like Algebra I, physical science or a foreign language. All middle schools already take part in the Encore program. Five middle schools offer International Baccalaureate. Donelson Middle and Oliver Middle now offer the Cambridge Advanced Academic program, which leads straight into the Cambridge high school programs at McGavock and Overton High Schools, respectively.
  • Middle Preps Ambassadors Like their Academies of Nashville counterparts in the high schools, 185 middle school students have been trained as ambassadors for their schools. They are eloquent and well informed. They will represent their schools at public events and participate in outreach to parents and community groups.

Middle school isn’t just a stepping-stone to high school. It is one of the most important time periods in a student’s life. Habits formed at this age will cement and carry that student through college, career, and life. The Middle Preps of Nashville will put students on the right path through individual attention and personalized learning experiences.