Metro School Choice Festival welcomes families to explore public school options

Metro Schools director Dr. Shawn Joseph (2nd from right) with four Metro School staffers at School Choice Festival. (photo by Ardee Reyes Chua)

Metro Nashville Public Schools hosted its annual School Choice Festival on Thursday, Nov. 15, in an event that ran from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The School Choice Festival allowed families an opportunity to ‘visit’ every Metro school in one afternoon and in one central location, one building, all under one roof. This free, fun-filled and informative event is the first step for families interested in learning more about educational options as they begin the process of finding the right school for their child.

One of the most important decisions families make is where they send their children to school. With Metro Schools, families have the choice of sending their children to their neighborhood schools or to other schools throughout the district. The event provided teachers and staff from the Metro School System the chance to interact with parents and the community, and to share the best of what the district offers in support of student achievement and families. Booths were manned by Support services such as Social Workers, Metro Schools Safety and Security, and about a dozen various community organizations.

This is the only time all Metro Schools – neighborhood, magnet, charter, and more – are in one room together. Families living in the Nashville metropolitan area have more than 160 public schools available to them in their neighborhoods and nearby communities. Metro Schools offer a wide variety of unique academic programs, supports, and extracurricular activities in locations that span the city so that every student has access to the tools they need to be successful.

In addition, attendees participated in presentations and Question & Answer sessions about the School Choice process. They were treated to an evening of fun with activities in the Family Fun Zone, which included face painting, free books courtesy of Book’Em, performances from the Nashville Public Library Puppet Truck, robotics demonstrations with the Adventure Science Center, and dance and musical performances by Nashville School of the Arts students in grades 10 through 12. The NSA Singers gave several performances, which their director Trey Jacobs said were about the theme of empowerment, with memorable lyrics such as “one for all and all for one” and “I make no apologies, this is me!”

This year’s festival started before the Optional Schools application release to allow families time to research and visit schools as they prepare for the application period. The 2019 – 2020 Optional Schools application process opens in January 11, 2019. The application deadline will be February 1, 2019. Selection day is February 22, 2019. The following schools have Academic Entrance Requirements: Meigs Middle School (grades 5-8); M. L. King Junior High School (grades 7-12); Hume-Fogg High School (grades 9-12); and Middle College High School (grade 9-12)

The 2019 School Choice Festival was made possible by the support of these sponsors: Adventure Science Center, Vanderblt University, Kroger, Dell, Piedmont, The Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation, and Ingram.

Nashville is a diverse and vibrant community, and so are our public schools. The district proudly serves more than 14,000 active English learners who represent 130 different countries around the globe. This year’s School Choice Festival was a great time for EL students and their families to learn more about the world-class services offered in all of MNPS’ schools. Their Office of English Learners (EL) is a leading EL program in the United States. For the last two school years, their EL students narrowed the achievement gap in every tested subject.

“Our program is committed to supporting all 14,000 EL students with the social, emotional, cultural, verbal and academic skills they need to excel in higher education, work and life,” said Molly Stovall Hegwood, interim executive director of the Office of English Learners.

MNPS EL programs promote cross-cultural education, facilitate emotional growth and protect the cultural identity of our students, offering tailored programming and services during the school day for the following language backgrounds: Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Farsi, French, Kinyarwanda, Kurdish, Nepali, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese

“We want our families to know we will support their English learner every step of the way and that all students will have access to great instruction,” Stovall Hegwood said. MNPS’s EL teachers, 750 in total, support all English learners throughout their journey to English fluency, regardless of their starting comprehension level.

Metro Nashville Public Schools is one of the nation’s top 50 largest school districts, preparing 88,000 students for higher education, work and life. With the goal of being the first choice for Nashville families, Metro Schools is committed to #ExceedingGreatExpectations with the mission of delivering a great public education to every student, every day. The district is earning a national reputation for urban school reform, social and emotional learning and rising academic achievement. The governing body for Metro Schools is the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, a nine-member elected body. For more information, visit MNPS.org.

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