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AEW 2014 Tour Continues in Nashville for "Parents Day"


NEA VP Becky Pringle celebrates parents at the Bailey STEM Magnet Middle Prep in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo credit: Kevin Lock


NEA Vice President Pringle Visits Nashville STEM School

NEA continued its American Education Week tour in Nashville with a visit Tuesday by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle to Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School in East Nashville to celebrate "Parents Day" of American Education Week. Pringle was joined by TEA President Barbara Gray, MNEA President Stephen Henry for a breakfast forum with East Nashville United parents and the staff of Bailey STEM.

Bailey is a community of primarily African-American and historically underserved students with about 92 percent qualifying for free and reduced lunch, according to school Principal Christian Sawyer. It is still on the state’s priority list but teachers are encouraged and buoyed by improvements on the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools' Academic Performance Framework scale, which rates schools in categories from “target” to “excelling.”

Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School moved out of the red “target” zone this year for the first time in recent history, taking two performance leaps into the “satisfactory” category in the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Academic Performance Framework.

The leap is due, in no small part, to multiple community partnerships, including an innovative program with Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development around a team teaching model. The result: Student “scholars” at Bailey have vastly improved overall math and science scores and garnered national recognition. But more important than that, by every measure — attendance, discipline rates, school pride, high expectations, love of learning, hope for the future — these students are excelling.

Now imagine being told, despite these successes, that your school could be shut down or turned into a charter school for no particular reason other than to further raise test scores. As one Bailey teacher said, "in Tennessee we live or die by test scores."

Many families at Bailey are involved in discussions about the future of public schools in East Nashville. Meanwhile, teachers at Bailey have been knocking on doors in the neighborhood to tell prospective parents about the mission and work at Bailey.

After hearing from school staff and parents about Bailey's success in building a STEM-focused program, Bailey students provided Association leaders with a first-hand look at projects that the students are working on ranging from robotics, solar-powered energy and a student-run television studio.

Impressed with all that the Bailey has to offer its students, Pringle, a middle school science teacher of 31 years, commented, "I am so excited and encouraged to see the young scholars and the inspired community that you have built here. Bailey reflects the collaboration, collaborative and teamwork, and whole child support that is necessary for all of your students to be successful. I can't think of a better school to highlight on 'parents day.'"

“You feel the investment and belief of our community in every aspect of the school,” said Principal Sawyer. “This is a story about a committed group of people pushing forward around a mission and a deep commitment to the children that we serve.”

The American Education Week tour continues Wednesday with NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia in Salt Lake City and Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss in Broward County, Fla. to recognize Education Support Professionals' Day. Vice President Pringle travels to her home state of Pennsylvania for a school visit and an address to the PSEA Western Region House of Delegates.

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AEW Parents Day in Photos


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