Celebrating Robert Churchwell

Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet: Building the Road to Success  
Posted on 02/01/2022
Robert Churchwell students in class

Robert Churchwell teacher with students in class

Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary is a North Nashville community school with an art museum housed in the school. The school works collaboratively with the Frist Art Museum to bring exciting exhibits for students and the community to enjoy. Student creativity is celebrated and is often exhibited in the museum, too.  

Churchwell practices Every Student Known strategies revolving around a rewards program designed to know each student’s successes in academics, behavior and overall student performance. They call it “The Churchwell Way.” This is also the name of their student pledge, which is recited daily as a reminder of their scholarly expectations.  

Students also have their morning and afternoon meetings built into their master schedules to prioritize time for teachers to get to know their students. Teachers learn about and from their students to build positive relationships and aid in fostering a positive culture of learning.  

Churchwell’s Community Achieves team can connect students with community partners that can make a difference in removing barriers that prohibit student achievement and promote student attendance and positive behavior each and every day. 

Churchwell Elementary students working in class

Interim Principal Dorothy Gunn loves to remind students that “the road to success is always under construction.” These words are a nod to the school’s history dating to the early 1900s. The school’s modest wood-framed building, originally named Wharton Elementary, was destroyed by a fire, and a new building was erected in 1957. This was the same school building where media mogul Oprah Winfrey was a student as a young child living in Nashville.  

Wharton’s popular performing arts program eventually relocated to what is now known as Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts, and the building's next designation was as a high school, named Big Picture for non-traditional students. When Big Picture moved, the building was made available for administrative use and much-needed renovations.  

The facility reopened as a school in 2010 following a three-year vacancy with a new name, Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary. The school is named in honor of Robert Churchwell Sr., the first African American journalist of a major Southern newspaper, The Nashville Banner.  

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