Big Picture Award

Nashville Big Picture Principal Wins National Leadership Award
Posted on 07/29/2022
Dr. Brenda Diaz

Dr. Brenda Diaz, executive principal of MNPS’s Nashville Big Picture High School, won a national leadership award from Big Picture Learning this week. Dr. Brenda Diaz, with her award

Diaz, who has led the school since joining MNPS in 2017, was named the 2022 Ted Sizer School Leader of the Year from among the 81 principals who lead Big Picture schools across the United States.

"Dr. Diaz leads with love and courage," said Dr. Sonn Sam, Big Picture Learning’s national director of partnerships. "She is courageous and unafraid to lean into uncomfortable spaces. But she's also tremendously kind and centered in her own humanity and the humanity of the young people who fill the halls of her school every day."

Big Picture’s curriculum is geared toward each student’s unique interests, background and learning style. Students learn through workshops, projects, internships and real-world experiences.

Priscilla Cole, an MNPS executive director overseeing several of the district’s high schools, and James Witty, interim executive officer of Human Resources who has worked with Big Picture for several years, called Diaz “a dynamic, inspiring and caring instructional leader.”

“She leads with grace and embodies the school’s ‘culture of kindness’ mantra,” they said. “Diaz ensures that all students are known, cared for and challenged to meet their full potential in school, life and beyond. She consistently shares best instructional practices with her colleagues to support positive student outcomes!”

The award, which Diaz received at Big Picture’s Big Bang conference on Tuesday, is named in honor of Ted Sizer, whose work as the founder and director of the Coalition of Essential Schools is often cited as the blueprint for Big Picture Learning's relationship-based approach to teaching and learning. Sizer once said, "I cannot teach a child I do not know."

Diaz said she was “extremely humbled and grateful” to be selected.

“None of this could be possible without the support of the MNPS leadership, NBPHS faculty, families, students and my family,” she said. “Each day I strive to serve in a way that honors my authentic leadership philosophy and by aiming to be the adult/teacher that I needed as a child.

“I believe our goal as educators is to never forget to focus on the individual strengths and gifts of ALL students while we work to meet their varied needs – one student at a time. I am a radical leader because I unapologetically love children."

Former Nashville Big Picture High School Principal Dr. Chaerea “Chae” Snorten, now an MNPS executive director overseeing early learning centers and elementary schools, is a previous winner of the award.

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