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Thank you for showing your support at our 15th Annual Hall of Fame Event!

We are looking for community leaders and MNPS graduates who are making a difference for Nashville’s students. By highlighting the success of our alumni and change-makers in the city, we hope to unite our community in celebration of education and inspire the next generation of leaders.


Nelson C. Andrews
Distinguished Service Award


Judge Richard Dinkins

Judge Richard Dinkins’ esteemed career of service to the Nashville community began during his third year of law school at Vanderbilt University, when he clerked for the Honorable Avon N. Williams Jr. and became involved in Nashville’s long-running desegregation case. Dinkins went on to successfully represent the plaintiffs in the case. Dinkins now serves as a judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals, while still remaining a tireless advocate for civil rights in public education. His dedication to making Nashville and our schools more equitable places for all children is an incredible example of what the Nelson C. Andrews award represents and what we hope we can inspire in future leaders of our city.

Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees 

Kasar Abdulla

Antioch High School
Kasar Abdulla has a lifelong dedication to empowering others, which can be traced back to her youth, when she spent part of her childhood in a Kurdish-refugee camp in Turkey. After immigrating to the United States, Abdulla became a first-generation college graduate and became involved in several organizations for change, including the YWCA, Kurdish Women for Better Health, and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. She now serves as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Valor Collegiate Academies, and serves on the board of PENCIL Foundation.

Dr. Adrienne Battle

Overton High School

Dr. Adrienne Battle is a devoted public servant whose career is marked by her commitment to serving Nashville’s public schools. She is the first female director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the first director to graduate from the district. Her 20-year career in education spans all the way back to her elementary school days in Nashville. She has held multiple executive principal positions through the elementary and high school levels, and was named the 2015 Academies of Nashville Executive Principal of the Year.

Jimmy Granbery

Hillwood High School

Jimmy Granbery is a prominent leader in the Nashville business community, serving as chairman and CEO of the H.G. Hill Realty Company and chairman of the H.G. Hill Company. He serves as a commissioner of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, was recently appointed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, and serves as vice chairman of the Martin Methodist College board and the Nashville Zoo board. He is also a longtime supporter of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, which recently awarded him the organization’s highest honor, the Order of the Red Triangle.


Sponsored by



Founded by Jami Oakley in 2015, UniCycle provides clean, appropriate uniforms for Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) students in need. Through the Homeless Education Resource Office (HERO), UniCycle collects “outgrown, not worn out” school uniforms that are then re-distributed to students at UniCycle Closets found in 50 public schools across Nashville. Nearly 13,000 pieces of clothing were distributed to MNPS students during the 2018–2019 school year alone. But this program is about so much more than clothes; it is about helping students and families focus on what matters most – their studies – rather than worrying about how they will buy expensive school uniforms each year.


Restorative Student Leaders

Restorative Student Leaders is an entirely student-led initiative that is creating a powerful culture shift in MNPS. Under the guidance of teachers Laura Fittz and Ellen Montgomery, student leaders at Glencliff and Hillsboro high schools are co-designing and implementing “restorative practices” in their schools. These practices represent an important paradigm shift, moving schools away from punitive cultures and toward school cultures where students and teachers seek to repair and restore damaged relationships. The Restorative Student Leaders, who call themselves the Glencliff Peace Team and Hillsboro CORE, are not only studying social problems affecting their lives, they are also designing solutions and leading valuable trainings that are actually solving these problems, forming stronger, safer school communities in the process. 


Sponsored by


Mary Jane Manley

Mary Jane Manley began working in Metro Nashville Public Schools as a paraprofessional at Harris-Hillman School serving students with significant physical and intellectual disabilities. Moved by her work in the school, Mary Jane became a licensed exceptional education teacher through a master’s degree program at Belmont University. In the classroom, Mary Jane creatively finds ways to provide students with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. She has a passion for discovering how her students can access rigorous and appropriate instructional material and meeting the individual needs of each of her students. Her work in the classroom goes beyond benefiting her students as she seeks ways to scale successful practices schoolwide. After implementing a creative tactile-symbol-based communication system in her classroom, she successfully expanded it across the school in collaboration with her colleagues. Her goal is to create the highest expectations for her students with appropriate opportunities for meaningful engagement at their fullest potential. Gerry Altieri, Harris-Hillman’s principal, shares that Mary Jane is “a dedicated exceptional education teacher that strives to improve instruction for one of the hardest populations in exceptional education to serve.”


Crystal Hicks

Crystal Hicks is a first-grade teacher at Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School who has more than 25 years of experience in the classroom. Crystal inspires her students to see themselves as leaders in and out of the classroom and works to create experiences, teach life lessons, and build real-life connections to learning that her students will take beyond elementary school. Crystal is also dedicated to providing the highest level of instruction in her own classroom and her school as a whole, leading regular professional development opportunities and providing mentorship for her fellow teachers. Her belief that all students have a right to a high-quality education is the driving force behind the way she contributes to her school community. Her principal, Marcia Taylor, says that Crystal “makes students, teachers, staff, and the community feel valued, supported and willing to invest in themselves as well as their community.”

Check out the Hall of Fame to see the more than 70 leaders and community members who have been honored over the past 14 years

Explore Past Honorees

Inspiring Educator Award

Presented by


The Inspiring Educator Award will be presented to an individual teacher who is a leader in their school and who is creating change to ensure all students can thrive. Strong candidates will have positively impacted their schools in at least one of the following ways:

  • Leading with ambitious instruction;
  • Fostering a culture of collaborative learning;
  • Creating an inclusive and supportive school culture; and/or
  • Developing and utilizing engaging and relevant curricular materials.

The award winner will receive a $5,000 award, split equally between the educator and their school.

Apply for the Inspiring Educator Award!

Check out the Hall of Fame to see the more than 70 leaders and community members who have been honored over the past 14 years

Explore Past Honorees



Award Sponsors


Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageSynovus LogoImage

Bronze Sponsors

Andrews Family

Bone McAllester Norton PLLC

Curb Records

Enterprise Solutions

HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health

J Graham Inc

Nashville Electric Service

Nashville State Community College Foundation

Orcutt Winslow LLP

Piedmont Gas

Regions Bank

Rogers Group

Southwest Value Partners

Steve Turner

Studio Bank/Harry Allen

TBR - The College System of Tennessee

Trauger & Tuke

Media Sponsors


By sponsoring the Public Schools Hall of Fame, you will showcase to hundreds of Nashvillians that your business cares about providing every child in Nashville with a world-class public education.

Join us in supporting Nashville’s students, teachers and public schools.

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If you have any questions, please contact Melinda Judd at [email protected].

We have been honored to see this event grow with each passing year and to celebrate some of the brightest and most impactful leaders and innovators in Nashville. Check out some of the highlights from years past. We hope you will join us in making 2019’s Hall of Fame the most memorable yet.