School leadership to host ‘listen and learn’ sessions

Dr. Shawn Joseph and the Board of Education are hosting 11 public meetings in July and early August to speak with the community and gather ideas for the future of Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The meeting focusing on the Antioch High and Cane Ridge High School clusters will be July 20 at Faith Life Church, in the Global Mall at the Crossings. School board members representing the two clusters are Anna Shepherd, District 4; Tyese Hunter, District 6; and Will Pinkston, District 7.

Dubbed “Listen and Learn” sessions, each meeting will include an hour-long, open question and answer meeting with Dr. Joseph and area Board members, as well as an interactive deep dive into specific questions and important topics.

Through open dialogue and sincere interest in hearing what the community has to say, these sessions will help Dr. Joseph accomplish two central goals of his transition:

  1. Learn more about the district and its needs
  2. Incorporate input from families, staff and the community in the plan for moving the district forward.

Meetings will serve all of the district’s geographic clusters and each Board district, bringing a two-way conversation to every part of Nashville. The meetings are open to the public, although parents, students, staff and school community partners are especially encouraged to attend.

“The Board has said to me since the beginning that community engagement is a top priority,” said Dr. Joseph. “I couldn’t agree more, and these Listen and Learn sessions establish a theme of openness and inclusion that will drive my administration. We have already begun work in this area by opening up our principal hiring process. Let’s keep the community momentum around Metro Schools going as we plan farther into the future, and have a little fun while we’re at it.”

Each Listen and Learn will start with a celebration: a popsicle party where families can get a free sweet treat. At the same time, they can start exploring some of the district’s biggest topics and questions in a gallery walk where they can have conversations with Metro Schools staff and write down their thoughts and input.

Following the party, Dr. Joseph and area Board members will take the stage for an hour-long open question and answer session with the crowd. When that wraps up, the gallery walk will reopen for more discussion with those who missed the start of the event or have additional thoughts after the Q&A.

“This is a chance for the entire community to meet Dr. Joseph and hear his plans for the district,” said Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry. “But more importantly, this is a chance for him to meet Nashville and listen to our families’ concerns and hopes are for our schools.”

The information from these Listen and Learn sessions will be compiled into a report to be shared with Dr. Joseph and the public. It will be weighed heavily in Dr. Joseph’s strategic planning process during and after his first 100 days in the district.

For those unable to attend any meetings, there will be an online questionnaire covering the same topics and questions.

“I have done a lot of research on Nashville and already immersed myself in the community, but I still have a lot to learn,” said Dr. Joseph. “I urge everyone – parents, grandparents, neighbors, civic and business leaders and everyone else – to attend these meetings to let us know what their Metro schools mean to them and their communities. Together we will forge a path toward excellence for all students.”