We are pleased to announce the three finalists for this year’s Inspiring Innovation Award. The Educators’ Cooperative, Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option School and Plant the Seed have been selected from dozens of applicants for their innovative programs that are moving the needle for public education in Nashville.
The winner will receive $10,000 to grow and scale their programming, and will be announced at the Public Schools Hall of Fame luncheon, presented by First Tennessee, on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Omni Nashville Hotel.
“This award is truly what the NPEF is all about – shining a spotlight on those who are shaking up the status quo and moving the needle for public education in Nashville,” said Shannon Hunt, NPEF president and CEO. “Even in the award’s third year, we continue to be blown away by the strides being made in our community by so many incredible organizations. Each year it gets harder and harder to choose the finalists, but these three really stood out for their bold ideas and ambitious visions for improving education in Nashville.”
The Educators’ Cooperative is a network of teachers across Nashville that supports, collaborates, and develops best practices in teaching and learning. The Cooperative creates the time and space for teachers from a diverse range of schools across all sectors to work together to find solutions to real instructional dilemmas, experience the joy and learning found in the design thinking practice, share their insights and experiences planning together, participate in discussions with local mindfulness-in-education leaders, and create working groups across all school types, disciplines, grades and years of experience. The Educators’ Cooperative is innovating the way teachers collaborate with one another on behalf of all students in Nashville, creating stronger schools and a new avenue for teacher leadership in the process.
Fall-Hamilton has dramatically changed the way teachers and administrators interact with their students, families and each other, on a daily basis. The school’s trauma-informed practices acknowledge the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that impact a child’s ability to be at their best in the classroom – 60 percent of Nashville’s children have experienced at least one ACE. Fall-Hamilton has created a culture that addresses the social, emotional and academic needs of the entire school community by creating innovative strategies that are emerging international best practices. For example, students needing extra attention are paired with teachers who meet with them at the beginning and end of every school day, each classroom has a “peace corner” to act as a sanctuary for students experiencing turbulent emotions, and teachers have a tap-in/tap-out system that allows them to text a peer when they need a small break during the day, to name only a few. Since implementing these changes, a survey of the students found that 98 percent felt supported and that there is an adult who cares about them at school. These barrier-breaking measures have also translated to real academic improvement, shown in the way Fall-Hamilton outperformed peer schools on the Achievement Network’s English language arts measures in 2016. The work of Fall-Hamilton has been highlighted by Edutopia, National Public Radio, Nashville Public Television and Education Week.
Plant the Seed transforms public and school gardens in some of Nashville’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, creating outdoor classrooms where students can learn and grow both academically and socially. When students work in one of the organization’s gardens, they experience hands-on learning that also supports their academic curriculum through over 35 seasonally relevant lessons connected to pre-K through second-grade curricular standards. Plant the Seed teaches its students to give back to their community, instilling in them the belief that everyone has a right to fresh, affordable, culturally relevant foods. This organization is a pioneer when it comes to designing and implementing garden-based education into school curriculum, and is providing a truly transformative early educational experience for nearly 1,000 Nashville students.
To purchase tickets, visit nashvillepef.org/hall-of-fame or call 615-727-1515. All proceeds support the NPEF’s work to better our public schools.