Academies Spotlight: Antioch

Experience MNPS with the Academies of Nashville at Antioch High School
Posted on 08/24/2022
Antioch high school student in front of banner

student at computers in engineering class


In lay terms, the Academies of Nashville can be described as smaller learning communities within MNPS’s 12 traditional or zoned high schools that give students exposure to and experience in a variety of career fields. For the 2022-23 school year, we're highlighting the academy programs these schools offer, and we're kicking the series off with Antioch High SchoolAcademies of Nashville Logo

For Principal Clarissa Zellars, the Academies’ mix of relevance and rigor plays a vital role in the success of all students, especially since the pandemic started in 2020, when this year’s seniors were still freshmen.

“Despite what has been an incredibly challenging couple of years, the Academies at AHS pulled together to support one another, our students and the community at large,” Zellars says. “In a time that was very dark for our students, one shining light was their academy and pathway. Academies at AHS provide hands-on, real-world, rigorous learning experiences for our students. I am looking forward to the future of the Academies.” 

Antioch has four career and thematic academies:

Academy of Engineering and Automotive Technology

  • This academy has three pathways: Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, STEM Technology, and BioSTEM.

Academy of Teaching and Service

    Antioch High School credit union
  • Within this academy the school offers students opportunities in Teaching as a Profession, Human and Social Services, and Leadership in Government (JROTC).

Academy of Hospitality and Design

  • Houses the school’s Hospitality and Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Digital Arts & Design pathways.

The Tennessee Credit Union Academy of Business and Finance 

This branded academy has three pathways: 

  • Banking and Finance
  • Office Management
  • Accounting – with one extra bonus: Antioch High School has an actual, fully functional credit union in its cafeteria. The credit union is run by the school’s TTCU Banking and Finance students.

In addition to these opportunities, students can count on community and business partners, as well as all school-based employees, pouring into their successes through guest speaking, internships, experiential learning, college visits and work-based learning.

Abdoulaye Charles, a rising senior at AHS, is one of many students who have found success through the academies over the years. He has enjoyed the Career and Technical Education program at the school immensely and is extremely proud and happy about the academy program he selected and its impact on his future.

Student A.Charles in front of academies banner

“I am currently in the academy of engineering and automotive technology, and the reason I chose it is because since I was a child, I’ve always been involved in technology,” Charles says. “I just love building computers, I love science, I love data science as well, and I realized Antioch offered the engineering of technology and automotive and I could pursue my passion of computer science and software development through this academy, and that helped me with the decision.

“This academy has offered me so many things. For instance, this summer I had the opportunity to attend the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and I would have not gone there without the help of Antioch. The school has taught me multiple things within science and engineering, and the fact that my teacher, Mr. James Anderson, had given the recommendation for this program has benefited me so much. The way it has impacted my future is that I have been able to make new connections and learn more about the field I want to get into and have a better sense of things overall.”

Charles is now focused on continuing to make outstanding grades and is applying to prestigious colleges and universities, including Georgia Tech and MIT.

No Shortage of Success Stories

As a 1997 graduate of Antioch High School who has returned there as an academy coach, Leslie Aley feels proud of the successes with the Academies that her alma mater has enjoyed since their inception 15 years ago.

“At that time, there were no academies, and while I do not feel like I missed out on my education, I would have thrived more and earned more college credits if there were,” Aley says. “Having gone to school prior to the academies and now teaching and working in the same school with wall-to-wall academies, I can see firsthand the impact that the Academies of Nashville has on students, communities and education.”

As a result of these programs, “the success stories are so many, never in short supply,” Aley adds.

“The Academies of Nashville transformed the way we did school and how we structured teaching and learning. Students are at the forefront of the decision-making processes when it comes to the academies. Student voice and student choice empowers students to explore opportunities in areas that they want, not something that we tell them they have to do.

student at computer in design class

“Students that experience the academy structure are prepared to go to college, trade school and work. They are given the opportunity to earn industry certifications and college credits to ensure they leave high school with many advantages. I can honestly say there is not a negative side to the academy model; it is hard to do anything except succeed when we put students first.”

Nathaniel Hudson, who has been a teacher for seven years, including the last four as CTE Business and Marketing teacher at Antioch, finds great motivation in making a difference in his students every day.

“I like that we have the academy model, which is a smaller community within the larger school,” he says. “I like my team; we have four different business teachers. So even though we have different classes, we can still collaborate a little bit because our content is similar.

“As an academy teacher, I love being able to incorporate real-world projects and integrate lessons I learned outside before I became an educator. In addition, because I worked for six years in corporate, applying that experience in the classroom makes it very interesting, particularly because the students want to be there, completely engaged in different projects.”

Students also participate in the DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) business club, which enables them to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills, Hudson notes.

Engaging Students and Business Partners

For John Doerge, a representative of Deloitte, a key business partner at Antioch for more than 13 years, “the Academies is one of the best ways to engage students and introduce them to various career opportunities. It also provides us a way to support our teachers and encourage our employees.”

Doerge also attributes the success of the Academies at AHS in recent years to a key factor: engagement.

“During the pandemic and our virtual and semi-virtual world, it was hard to have the type of engagement we would like to see for our students,” he says. “Since last spring we have seen the re-engagement of our students and our business partners. This year we are planning on bringing 100 Antioch students to our office to give them a chance to see and learn about potential careers. There is a renewed energy at Antioch and the Academies.”

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