Jeff Syracuse

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School News

Donelson School News - August 2019

Every First Day and Last Day of school at McGavock High School, the McGavock Coalition puts together community leaders to greet students and wish them well and also hands out raffle tickets for prizes given out during the day.  It’s a great way for the community to support McGavock.  I was glad to join community leaders and the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce on August 5th.

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Donelson School News - June 2019

Teachers have gone above and beyond to advocate for improved resources for schools that specifically brings equity to their pay.  I have listened and met with teachers and agree that we are behind in ensuring their pay is fair and allows us to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers.  Same can be said for our public safety and all Metro employees.  The reality is our growth has been on the backs of Metro employees and we have to change that.  Post cards from students whose parents are teachers drives this reality home.  I felt strongly that the substitute budget that was offered (that would’ve raised the property tax rate almost .50 for an extra 1% that would’ve given nothing extra for all other Metro employees) would’ve hampered our ability to fix the structural issues with our budget that ultimately will put us on a course to improving funding for MNPS and all Metro employee pay in the long term.  It will be a top priority in the coming year.  We will discuss it in more detail at the July 11 town hall.

Teachers Pay in Davidson County

I’m pleased that the next Donelson Gateway Project is a beautification of their front entranceway.  Below is the basic plan that JVI Secret Gardens put together for us.  Stay tuned for a fundraising efforts, but feel free to donate at the website above and notate that it’s for Pennington Elementary.  It’ll cost about $1,700.

Pennington Elementary Plan

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Donelson School News - May 2019

There may still be openings at MNPS Summer Camps and Programs.  Visit this link for more information and to sign up.

Recently, Senior Awards Night at McGavock High School was held to showcase academic and student excellence among a variety of disciplines.  91 seniors received McGavock Covenant Student Scholarships, which are $500 scholarships given to graduating seniors with a 3.0 GPA, 21 ACT, and 8 hours of community service.  This is the only scholarship of its kind in Nashville and the surrounding area that is funded by the community for a local public high school.  Awards were also presented to fine arts students (band, orchestra, theater, dance), cheer and student athletes.  Also, a McGavock student was recognized for being the highest rated Cambridge student in the entire state of Tennessee.

McGavock High School Awards

Metro Nashville Public Schools joins the Nashville Public Education Foundation and Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee in celebrating this year’s selection of Blue Ribbon Teachers.  In its fifth year, the Blue Ribbon Teacher program aims to recognize top teaching talent in our schools. This year, we’re celebrating fifty exceptional educators who are doing outstanding work in one of three areas: student growth, instructional excellence and teacher leadership.  Blue Ribbon Teachers will be honored at a reception at Vanderbilt in June.  Congrats to McGavock High School’s Laura Vignon and all our fantastic teachers in the county.

Blue Ribbon Teacher Award Recipients

I recently had the opportunity attend the 40th Words and Music Night held at the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It’s an annual event that celebrates the performance of songs written by students and professional Nashville songwriters.  Here is Stanford Montessori’s recent 4th grade graduate Oscar Spitzer accompanied by Shane Adams performing their song “The Beach”.

Words and Music at Country Music Hall Of Fame

Words and Music at Country Music Hall Of Fame

 

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Donelson School News - April 2019

Congratulations to McGavock Elementary 4th graders Quetzaly Roman Loaeza and Veronica Vargas Alonso for winning the Nashville Beautiful Art Contest showcasing the importance of recycling in the county.  Their art will be displayed on this truck pictured below for a whole year!

McGavock Elementary

I had a blast reading “Going Places” to Ms. Finley’s 3rd grade class at Pennignton Elementary as part of Read Across America Week.  I think the picture below shows how much fun these kids were.  They are definitely “going places”!

Pennington Elementary

The CMA Foundation, the national music education nonprofit and the philanthropic arm of the Country Music Association, will host its fourth annual Music Teachers of Excellence Awards on April 30th, 2019, and John David Hazlett, Director of Bands at McGavock High School is among the honorees!  The invite-only event will honor 30 music educators from across the country for their dedication and commitment to music education in their classroom and throughout their school community.  The CMA Foundation created the Music Teachers of Excellence program in 2016 in an effort to recognize the best and brightest music teachers from Nashville and beyond.  Award recipients are selected because of their dedication to bringing a quality music program to their students and the impact they’ve had on their school community through music.  In addition to a night of celebration, Mr. Hazlett will receive $2,500 to invest in his music classroom to help drive their program forward and an additional $2,500 as a personal stipend.

John David Hazlett

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Donelson School News - March 2019

Nashville Youth Basketball AssociationThe Nashville Youth Basketball Association is offering a Spring Break Camp at McGavock High School led by Former NBA 1st Round Pick Dontae' Jones.  The camp will be for boys and girls ages 5 – 16 and held for three days during Spring Break and will last three hours each day.  Special guest coaches include former NBA and professional players as well as current college and high school coaches.  The camp will be held March 12 – 14, 2019 from 1 – 4pm.  The cost will be $75 for three days or $30 daily.  Daily snacks and drinks will be included.

Two Rivers Middle School will be having a Crop for Enrichment event on Friday, March 29th from 6pm to midnight and March 30th from 9am – 4pm at St. John’s Lutheran Church.  This will be a benefit for Two Rivers Middle.  See flyer below for details and contact information for more info.

Crop for Enrichment Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15

Great things are always happening at McGavock High School.  I was proud to attend and support the annual breakfast raising funds for the McGavock Coalition Scholars Fund that gives scholarships to eligible students.  Thanks to Hermitage Hills Baptist Church for hosting and all the sponsors and donors. There was great music from the McGavock Band, Orchestra and Choir as well as a special performance by Tristan McIntosh.  McGavock students the Hospitality Academy prepared a delicious breakfast.  To learn more and to give to this fund, visit www.mcgavockcoalition.org.

McGavock Coalition

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Donelson School News - February 2019

It’s not too soon to be thinking about summer employment for your teen.  The Opportunity Now program is Nashville’s youth employment initiative, working to provide young people ages 14-24 access to employment.  See flyer below for details.

Opportunity Now Youth Program

 

I was thrilled to be able to recently help facilitate bringing an interactive Blues in the Schools program to Two Rivers Middle Prep. Shannon “Bayou” Williford is a Metro Parks employee and along with Bentley Caldwell and Casey “Grandpa” Lutton, performed for the students and led them in creating and performing their own song as well as teaching an understanding and appreciation of blues and its impact on our history and culture. Best yet, this is a free program for our schools with support from the Music Performance Trust Fund, Nashville Fringe Festival and Nashville Musicians AFM Local 257.”

Blues in the Schools

Blues in the Schools

Blues in the Schools

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Donelson School News - July 2018

Metro School is hiring Crossing Guards.  If interested in applying for a position, please call 615-862-7752.  Thank you!

Check out these pictures from STEAM Camp (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) at Margaret Allen Middle School, which was funded by a grant from Dell here in Nashville.  These kids had a great time and learned new skills.

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Margaret Allen STEAM Camp

Pennington United Methodist Church is collecting backpacks and school supplies for Pennington Elementary during the month of June and end with a “Home of the Brave” patriotic concert at the church on Sunday, July 1st at 5pm.  For a list of supplies, visit their website here.

Congratulations to McGavock High School, who was awarded five awards at the 8th Annual Academies of Nashville Awards:

  • Academy Teacher of the Year: CTE or Thematic Pathway

Jessie Lumpkins, Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Sciences & Law at McGavock High School

  • Academy Teacher of the Year: General and Global Education

Scott Fisher, The Academy of Aviation & Transportation at McGavock High School

  • Externship Project of the Year

Aegis Science Corporation and the Aegis Sciences Corporation Academy of Life Sciences & Law at McGavock High School

  • Academy of the Year

The Academy of Aviation & Transportation at McGavock High School

  • Academy Partnership of the Year: Arts, Media and Communications

Rocketown and the Academy of Digital Design and Communication at McGavock High School

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Donelson School News - April 2018

The Mayor’s Art Show featuring artwork from McGavock cluster students will be at the Frist Art Museum on April 12th at 5pm.  See flyer below for details.

Mayors Art Show - Nashville Public Schools

I was very happy to attend the 2nd Annual McGavock Cluster Coalition Breakfast supporting scholarships for eligible McGavock High School Students.  Thanks to Lady Antebellum keyboardist and Musical Director Jonathan Long for speaking, who is also a McGavock alumnus.  The students did a phenomenal job serving the breakfast, hosting the event and providing entertainment.  I encourage everyone to support this annual breakfast.

McGavock Coalition Breakfast

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Donelson School News - October 2017

A wonderful story by News Channel 5 highlighted a real hero among our teachers. Tina Noel at Donelson Middle School has truly gone above and beyond to take care of her kids. Her classroom now has a food bank to help ensure none of her kids go hungry. If you'd like to contribute, you may bring donations to the front office. Call the school at (615) 884-4080 for more info.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at McGavock High School is hosting their Fields of Faith event on Wednesday, October 25th at 7pm. It will be hosted on the football field. See poster below.

Fields of Faith

Remington College at 441 Donelson Pike is offering a very nice scholarship for civil servants, first responders, law enforcement officers, active military, reservists or government agency employees. See poster below for more info.

Remmington College scholarships

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Donelson School News - September 2017

Last newsletter I wrote about the situation of the delay at Pennington Elementary School’s expansion and renovation.  This past month I’ve also been made aware of the need for repair and upgrade of sidewalks and crossings around the school.  I’m engaged with Public Works and MNPS and they are looking into this.  I hope to be able to share progress in subsequent newsletters.

Speaking of sidewalks, the good news to share is that as you probably have seen if you traverse McGavock Pike, the sidewalks connecting McGavock High School onto McGavock Pike are being installed.  I’ve asked for that for a long time.  I also have a Capital Improvement Budget request for a sidewalk on McGavock Pike to at least for now connect McGavock High School and Two Rivers Middle.  Not time frame and I still need to get that funded, but it would be well used I believe.

TN Achieves is always looking for mentors to serve our local schools.  Visit their website to learn more.  This is one way you can serve our local community and help kids get a solid start in life.

TN Achieves Is Always Looking For Mentors

The Nashville Youth Basketball Association is recruiting for their fall league.  This is held at McGavock High School.  Visit their website for more info and see the flyer below.

Nashville Youth Baseball Association is recruiting for their fall league

Congrats to the McGavock High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter for being named a finalists for the 2017 Model of Excellence Award.  There is always something amazing and noteworthy to celebrate about McGavock High School

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Donelson School News - August 2017

A few parents at Pennington Elementary reached out to me about a meeting that was being held at the school to discuss the issues surrounding the construction project.  I didn’t know about the meeting until that day so I wasn’t able to attend.  Our School Board Member, Anna Shepherd, did attend and learned the meeting was informative.  As I understand, the project is slated to be completed by mid-2018.  It’s not ideal and I believe the contractor will find it difficult to be involved with future MNPS projects after this.  I’m sorry to hear about these delays and challenges but it sounds like the staff and administration are doing a good job managing it the best they can and any immediate safety issues have been properly addressed.  Don’t hesitate to contact me with any additional concerns.

Welcome back to all students and best of luck in this new school year!

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Donelson School News - July 2017

Congratulations to McGavock Elementary School’s Lee Farrar, who was named Elementary Librarian of the Year.

Lee Farrar Elementary School Librarian of the Year

It was great to join members of the McGavock Cluster Coalition and Donelson-Hermitage Chamber in congratulating McGavock High School students on their last day.  The First Day and Last Day celebrations are a great way for the community to show their support for our students.

McGavock High School Last Day

If you need to enroll your child in school, you’re still able to do so.  For the first year ever, MNPS is opening two MNPS Enrollment Centers on Saturdays in July from 8am – noon.  You can enroll, withdraw or transfer your child.  English Learner assessments will also be available at both locations.  See details on dates and locations below.  To determine what documents to bring, check out the list here. If you can't make it to one of these two locations on a Saturday visit one of 11 enrollment centers during regular hours (7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., weekdays).

I thoroughly enjoyed a tour and lunch with the staff of Arts Institute of Tennessee – Nashville.  The lunch was made by students who are working to learn how to manage a commercial kitchen and restaurant.  The educational offerings at the school are vast and truly support our hospitality, entertainment and related other industries.  They do an excellent job at job placement as well.  Below is a picture of President Greg Chapman (to my right) and members of his staff.

Arts Institute of Tennessee

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Donelson School News - May 2017

The Centennial Jam Band Camp is a music-intensive week.  A student gets to spend 5 days in a row doing what he/she loves - playing music!  Metro Parks Music Department has been hosting Jam Band Camp for more than ten years.  Many of their alums are now making their marks in the adult music world.  Kids will learn to play popular music (rock, R&B, country, etc.) in a band by ear.  Groove. Stage Cues. Solos. Singing. Harmony. Teamwork. They cover all aspects of live playing, by doing it.  Any child ages 10 to 18 and still in school is wanted, as long as she/he can play an instrument.  Novices to virtuosos are welcome.  Guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and any other instrument players who want to rock, please join Centennial jamBands Summer Intensive Jam Band Camp.  Camps run from June 12-16 and June 26-30.  It costs $150.00 for a whole week.  Scholarships are available.  Contact Metro Parks Music Supervisor Sam Frazee at Samuel.Frazee@nashville.gov or call 615-862-8440 for information about a placement audition.

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Donelson School News - March-April 2017

Mayor Barry has launched a new private-public initiative, Opportunity Now, which seeks to support youth employment.  See flyers below for details and contact information if interested in having your son or daughter be part of this program and learn some strong life skills.

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Donelson School News - February 2017

There are opportunities to make a direct impact on students that attend Metro schools right here in Donelson with specific needs.  There are a number of children in each of our schools that meet the criteria for being homeless and do not have adequate clothing and food needs.  Thanks to Grace Church of the Nazarene and Hip Donelson, you can donate towards helping support these students.  Donate towards the local school food pantries and clothing closets (school standard attire, socks, shoes, and underwear) by sending a tax-deductible donation but clicking here via the Grace Nazarene website or in person at the Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market starting again this May.  To donate items directly, they can be dropped off at Grace Church of the Nazarene at 2620 Pennington Bend Road, Nashville, TN 37214.

Two Rivers Middle School is also looking for reading tutors.  If you have 30-60 minutes to spare once a week to help a child read, then please contact Nicole Vaughn at Two Rivers Middle, 615-885-8931. They currently have 15+ children on a waiting list because they do not have enough tutors. 

To help you, below are Reading Clinic Training dates for this month.  The training is 90 minutes and it is helpful as you get to learn some cool reading games to play with the students.  Part of each reading tutoring session is listening to the child read for 15 minutes.  Next, you play a game with them for 5-7 minutes, then you listen to the child retell what they read (3-5min) and finally, the child writes for 3min.  Each training will be held at Carter Lawrence Elementary (1118 12th Ave South; the office of the Reading Clinics Director is there).  Please email Nicole Valentine at Nicole.Valentine@MNPS.org if you plan to attend a training and she will let the director know to reserve a spot.  The Two Rivers Middle Prep clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-3pm according to the 30-minute time slot that works best for you (each tutor is asked to carve out 45 minutes once a week).  The clinic will be open for nine more weeks (minus spring break and state testing week).

  • Friday, February 17th from 9:30am – 11am
  • Wednesday, February 22nd from 9:30am – 11am

Metro Nashville Public Schools is requested input on the next component of their strategic plan.  Last November, MNPS solicited input on their Mission, Vision and Core Values Statements.  Next is the Student & School Characteristics, drafted by Dr. Shawn Joseph, MNPS Director.  Click here to view the Strategic Plan Process and give your input.

In Mayor Karl Dean’s last fiscal budget, he allocated $1 million to put aside towards investment in a campus each for Madison and Donelson of Nashville State Community College.  It has been a big effort by local and state elected officials as well as a number of community leaders.  Thanks also to Mia Keller with CBRE who was selected as the Tennessee Board of Regents broker for finding these campus locations.  I’m very happy to say that effort has been successful and the Tennessee Board of Regents has purchased the former ITT Tech campus on Elm Hill Pike.  The campus is in excellent condition and NSCC will be able to set up and open quickly.  Two stories about this development are here and here

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Donelson School News November 2016

I was honored to be asked by Lipscomb Academy teacher Mark Pugh (also a Donelson neighbor) to speak to the students in the IGNITE program.  On Election Day morning, I presented some history of Metro Government, NashvillleNext and how Donelson plays an important role regionally in the plan for our feature.

lipscomb-academy-with-jeff-syracuse

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Donelson School News October 2016

I had a great morning joining volunteers joining Hands On Nashville in their 25th “Hands On Nashville Day” supporting schools throughout Davidson County.  Pennington Elementary received strong support in a day of doing work inside and outside the school, which is going through construction as part of their needed additions and renovations.

Penning Bend Elementary

Pennington Bend Elementary

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Music Makes Us Advisory Council and I thank Mayor Barry again for the appointment and opportunity to serve.  Check out this great new public service announcement here about Music Makes Us and how the initiative is supporting a wide variety of music education opportunities through all of Metro Nashville’s schools.  There is a great Online Hub listing resources and programs to help teachers enhance teaching and learning opportunities.

McGavock High School received revamped and relocated main signage as well as new directional signage on the Two Rivers Park side of the building to match the work that was done as part of the facelift and landscaping installed earlier this year.  Thanks to Metro Nashville Public Schools for continuing these improvements!

McGavock High School

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Donelson School News - September 2016

I was honored to be part of the ribbon cutting for the new barn at Raider Ranch, a great addition that will expand teaching opportunities in the agriculture department at McGavock High School.  Students, teachers and animals were very happy at the enhanced facilities.

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Donelson School News - August 2016

Dr. Joseph certainly hit the ground running even before he officially took his new role as Director of Schools.  Read about his vision and the “First 100 Days” here.  I had the opportunity to meet with him and other community and elected leaders this summer and I look forward to his leadership making a positive impact in all our schools.  After that meeting, we then had the opportunity to tour McGavock High School and see the great experiences that the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) and the Nashville Scholars summer program offers.  MNPS has also created a new logo and launched a brand new website, which looks great and is easier to navigate.  Check it out at www.mnps.org.

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Donelson School News - June 2016

Congratulations and welcome to Dr. Shawn Joseph, our new Metro Schools Director!  Here is a letter from Dr. Joseph and School Board Chair Sharon Gentry:

We are excited to turn the page to a new chapter for Metro Nashville Public Schools. In hiring Dr. Shawn Joseph as our new Director of Schools last Friday, we committed ourselves to cast the shadow of our burden behind us, and re-commit ourselves to ensuring that every child, in every school, in every classroom is at the center of all of our decision-making.

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