Academies Spotlight: Maplewood High School

Experience MNPS through the Academies of Nashville at Maplewood High School
Posted on 09/21/2022
student in hard hat by power grid


You wouldn’t expect to find a fully functioning auto repair shop, a health lab, a full-service cosmetology studio and an energy training lab when walking through the front doors of most neighborhood high schools, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Maplewood High School. student in hard hat outside by electrical grid

Maplewood, one of 12 Metro high schools that make up the Academies of Nashville, offers students five interesting and practical Academies pathways – each one designed to help students create their own high school experience. The Academies create unique experiences for all students, through job shadowing, experiential learning opportunities, guest speakers and networking with industry experts.

Just ask James Rigsby, a junior in Maplewood’s Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation who is translating his love of “tinkering” on cars into a rewarding education and fulfilling career through the Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair pathway.

“It’s helped me because [my teacher] has taught me more than I thought I would ever know,” he said. “If I go to trade school, I know I’ll have more knowledge than everyone else.”

Rigsby has plans to specialize in diesel engines after graduation – but while he’s in school, he’s participating in hands-on learning in the Firestone Complete Auto Care Shop. The Auto Care Shop is more than just an interesting classroom full of car parts and tires  auto maintenance shop where students learn and receive hands- on learning from their instructor, T.J. Williams. 

For Academy Coach Lanedria Marshall, the hands-on experiences students participate in – whether in the auto shop, the cosmetology studio, or in any other pathway classroom – are what make the Academies so impactful for all students.

“The Academy model lets students experience all of these different things while students are still in school,” she said. “It really brings so many different experiences to life.” two students working on a dummy patient

What started as a personal hobby for Rigsby has turned into industry certifications and other learning experiences that go beyond the classroom.

“I look forward to coming back after graduation and talking to other students to show them what they can get out of this program,” he said.

The Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation includes two other pathways, alongside the Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair pathway:

  • Entrepreneurship, taught by Roger Jones 
  • Cosmetology, instructed by Sonja Colquitt

Maplewood is also home to future architects, engineers and electricians, thanks, in part, to the school’s Academy of Health and Electrical Services, which houses the Energy and Power Distribution pathway.

Junior Bernardo Diaz is one of those students enrolled in the Energy and Power Distribution pathway, an experience created by Academy partners Stansell Electric and Nashville Electric Service.

Diaz credits his pathway with not only interesting projects – like building parallel circuits and working in the outdoor Energy and Power Training Lab – but also with enhancing his overall high school experience.

“[The pathway] helped me get more into high school and made me feel more comfortable,” he said. “I am able to stay connected to my other classmates while we work on projects together.”

And, in a school like Maplewood, bustling with nearly 700 students, creating community for students is an important part of the school day. Because pathway students take a lot of the same courses and classes at the same time, they’re able to connect with each other and support each other.

“The smaller learning communities created by the different pathways help students create bonds that can be life-changing,” Marshall said.

student at desk, with a white car up on car lift in auto mechanic area at school

Along with the Energy and Power Distribution pathway, the Academy of Health and Electrical Services also includes two other pathways:

  • Diagnostic Services
  • Therapeutic Services
  • Teachers: Megan Lawrence and Heather Casteel

Kennedy Green, a senior at Maplewood, is enrolled in the Therapeutic Services pathway, which prepares students to work in the high-demand health care field.

Beyond her hands-on experience in class and in the on-site, Ascension St. Thomas Medical Primary Care Clinic, Green is also taking advantage of dual credit courses, where she earns both high school and college credit simultaneously.

“It means a lot to me to be given the opportunity to take a college course, especially for something that I am really passionate about,” Green said. “I feel like having that credit will bring more attention to me when I'm applying for colleges, because they will [see that I] already have a little bit of experience in anatomy and physiology or in biology.

“I feel like it does give me an edge, but it also helps people realize: Is this something you want to do when you get to college? Are you passionate about it? Is it something that you see yourself doing in the long run?” 

Academies of Nashville at Maplewood High School

Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, including the Firestone Complete Auto Care Shop
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Cosmetology

Academy of Health and Electrical Services
  • Energy and Power Distribution
  • Diagnostic Services
  • Therapeutic Services

Maplewood also offers Dual Credit courses, Dual Enrollment courses, and Industry Certifications.

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