#MNPSco2018: Cassidy Martin and Audria Thompson, Nashville Big Picture High School

Big Picture4 (002) Nashville Big Picture High School does exactly what its name implies – helps students see the ‘big picture’ as they prepare for college, career and life. During this year’s high school graduation season, two Big Picture seniors have already leaped ahead acquiring valuable industry certifications that bring them one step closer to achieving their future goals.

Cassidy Martin and Audria Thompson are among Nashville Big Picture’s brightest stars. Both have plans to attend college once they graduate May 21 and will take the personalized and project-based learning exposure they received over the past four years with them. Each student has accumulated several college credits in early childhood education from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville.

“It was a lot of work – a lot of homework, but the school allows for a lot of independence to discover where you want to go,” said Martin, who also served as Nashville’s Youth Poet Laureate in 2016.

Martin said she is still weighing her college options but will immediately put her certification to work this summer working at a childcare facility. The 18-year-old said she looks forward to ultimately building a career in social work, specifically working with adults and teaching them how to work with children.

“This [early childhood education] certification has already gained me a job,” Martin said. “It [TCAT] was a wonderful experience and awesome preparation for the future things we want to do.”

For Thompson, her sights are set on Austin Peay State University in Clarksville where she plans to continue her track in education with an emphasis on working with special needs students.

“I did not know half the things I needed to know about working with young children and how they develop before going to TCAT,” said Thompson, who aspires to one day open a center to support special needs children. “I felt like I was getting where I needed to be when I graduated from there.”

Nashville Big Picture High School has gained a solid reputation of correlating academics and real-world experiences. The school is recognized as a national model for using methods such as workshops, project exhibitions, internships, field trips and community engagement to impact learning experiences. Students spend three days engaged in instructional time and research and two days devoted to learning through actual internship opportunities.

Dr. Brenda Diaz, executive principal of Nashville Big Picture, said the school has the lowest mobility rate among any high school in Nashville, and 100 percent of students graduate and receive college acceptance.

“Big Picture students are highly committed and balance rigorous work and advanced curriculum, including dual enrollment opportunities,” Diaz said.

Additionally, each graduating senior is required to complete a capstone project gathering information, research and preparing a presentation to teachers, fellow students, family members and community partners. Domestic violence and foster care awareness were Martin’s and Thompson’s topics, respectively.

“Audra is very driven and self-motivated, and Cassidy’s creativity and passion shines through her poetry,” Diaz said. “I am confident both of them will accomplish great things.”