PHOTOS: Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, visits McGavock High School
Metro Schools' Academies of Nashville once again garnered the national spotlight as Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden toured McGavock High School on Jan. 27 to speak with Metro Students about college access programs.
Dr. Biden, a full-time English professor at a community college in Northern Virginia, serves as chair of the College Promise Campaign, a non-partisan advocacy effort to promote making the first two years of community college free for all students willing to work hard. The national campaign was inspired by Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise initiative, which provides two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee.
Biden was joined by U.S. Under Secretary of Education Tim Mitchell, Governor Bill Haslam, state Representative Darren Jernigan, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Interim Director of Schools Chris Henson, Metro Schools Board of Public Education member Anna Shepherd and several school district officials.
Dr. Biden's student-led tour included an overview of the high school's Academy of Aviation & Transportation, CMT Academy of Digital Design & Communication, the USCCU/ Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality & Finance and Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science & Law.
In the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication, McGavock seniors Candice Schettino and Elise Taylor showcased a student-produced video highlighting the benefits of the state's Tennessee Promise program.
Schettino also asked Dr. Biden in a student-led, on-camera interview why she picked McGavock High School to visit.
"The President had so many good things to say about McGavock and I wanted to see what this looked like," Biden said in the interview. She added that as a community college teacher, she appreciated how Tennessee Promise gives students an opportunity to have an affordable college education after high school.
By May, Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Health Science & Law student Shannon Moshier will have earned 12 hours of credit through Volunteer State Community College's dual enrollment program for high school students.
"It's exciting," Moshier said during the tour's roundtable discussion held at McGavock's Raider Bistro. "I used to think community colleges were a scrapping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel option, but I learned they are just as good if not better with lots of hands-on activities."
McGavock senior Haley Logan covered Dr. Biden's visit as the school's yearbook editor and said the event was a once-in-a-lifetime career experience."It's really cool. It encourages you to do more and be involved with what you love to do," Logan said.
"Touring McGavock, two words come to mind – partnerships and pathways," said Mayor Barry.
Barry said the community partnerships with the Academies of Nashville are critical to providing students hands-on experiences that lay the foundation for taking advantage of Tennessee Promise.
Governor Bill Haslam said he believes in public education and high school as a place that prepares you for the next steps in life.
"I love the way you guys are modeling it here," Haslam said. "Policy is one thing but to see students here living this is encouraging."
Dr. Biden said one her greatest joys as a teacher is seeing the Obama administration pursue free community college nationally. She praised the Academies of Nashville for providing hands-on experiences for students. "It's so smart. It's a smart way to do education. It's really inspiring," Dr. Biden said.
Demetrius Tyler, a senior in the USCCU/ Gaylord Entertainment Academy of Hospitality & Finance said he was originally planning to take two years off after high school to raise funds for college. Now with Tennessee Promise, he doesn't have to do that, he said. Tyler later said that his internship with the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center was the highlight of his academy experience.
"Education is changing – it had to change. It had to adapt to student needs and wants," Dr. Biden said.
Check out the tour's photo gallery below from the Metro Schools Communications Department: