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Tag: Donelson School News

New Chair for Music Makes Us Advisory Council

Speaking of schools, I am wrapping up two years as Chair of the Music Makes Us Advisory Council and pass it over to Brian Sexton, who has served as Vice Chair for the last two years.  Brian is a fantastic community leader and will be a fantastic leader of this initiative.  This is an area I’m passionate about and like many of you I’m sure, my experience in band and music programs in school was the most formative and impactful growing up. I want to help ensure kids have the same, if not greater, opportunities that I had.

Donelson School News, Music In Schools, Music Makes Us

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Donelson School News – March 2020

I am thankful to MNPS Interim Director Dr. Adrienne Battle and her leadership team for presenting the proposed FY20-21 school budget at various meetings across the county.  I am impressed in that it acknowledges the difficult budget season we face and presents options for funding various areas of MNPS depending on what revenues are available.  Here is a two-page brief on the proposal.

Schools and public safety need to be the top priorities of this budget.  We must take better care of our teachers and support our MNPS leadership’s efforts to be able to recruit and retain the best and brightest.  Our children deserve it and we must deliver.  Here is the full 28-page budget presentation for your review.

Donelson School News

Donelson School News – February 2020

Number Magazine is a free quarterly art journal that seeks to Amplify the voices of artists living in the South.  They accept proposals for articles, interviews, and reviews on a rolling basis.  Check out for more information.  If you know a great Art Educator and want to nominate them as an Art-Ed Hero, please email

 They also have the Young Art Writers Project(YAWP) that offers resources to Kindergarten-college teachers that seek to encourage kids to write about art in their communities by publishing their work online and in the quarterly magazine.  Please spread the word to educators about this resource.  If you know a business that would like to distribute Number Magazine in Donelson email Randy Purcell at  Here’s a picture of me getting the latest edition at Caliber Coffee.

The Metropolitan Action Commission is looking for partners who will serve as food locations where youth can receive nutritious meals during the summer when school ends for the summer.  Metro Action receives funding to provide breakfast and lunch meals to locations such as apartment properties, summer camps, community centers, enrichment programs, youth sports and dance camps.  To qualify as a site, the location must be in communities where families with low incomes reside.  There are other requirements such as refrigeration for meals and attending the site providers training in May.  

To apply as a site to provide meals visit the agency’s website to access the application and submit to that agency’s main office (800 2nd Avenue North).  Metro Action urges all potential sites to submit their application by Friday, February 28, 2020.  For more information call 615-862-8860, Extension 70120.  The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a national program designated to provide nutritionally balanced meals for school-age children during the summer that may otherwise go without a meal during the day.  Metro Action receives federal funding for the SFSP from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Donelson School News

Doneslon School News – January 2020

I had the pleasure of meeting new McGavock Elementary principal, Rae Covey.  She’s wonderful and is already building a great culture to learn and work.  I also picked up my McGavock Elementary shirts I will wear proudly in the community to support them.

I had the pleasure of meeting new McGavock Elementary principal, Rae Covey
I joined Mayor Cooper at Two Rivers Middle School to take part in and thank all the school leadership and volunteers for creating a program that put together food boxes for students who don’t have stable, healthy food during the Holidays.  Metro Nashville Network was on hand to film the event.  View it here.
Also in support of Two Rivers Middle, Council Members took part in the Adopt A Teacher Program and I was proud to join CM At Large Zolfat Suara, CM District 2 Kyontze Toombs, CM District 3 Jennifer Gamble and CM District 16 Ginny Welsch in adopting all the teachers at Two Rivers Middle and delivering supplies to them.
Adopt A Teacher Program at Two Rivers Middle School

Donelson School News

Donelson School News – November 2019

According to Second Harvest, one in 5 youth in Nashville are food insecure.  Within the McGavock cluster there are approximately 350 students experiencing homelessness and a total of 2,449 youth in MNPS are homeless.  86% of our these students are “doubled-up” in the homes of friends and relatives as opposed to literal homelessness, but it’s still not a stable situation.  As the season of thanks and giving approaches there are multiple opportunities to give back to help Nashville’s most vulnerable and precious gifts.  One way to give back locally is to support the Community Pantry that is housed at Two Rivers Middle.  This pantry is open to families that have a child at schools in Donelson or Hermitage.  Monthly, families may shop for can goods, snacks for youth, meat (when available), toiletries, and other personal items so that students can focus on learning and not the barriers that they often are faced with.  In preparation for Thanksgiving, the Community Pantry is accepting donations of non-perishable thanksgiving themed food items, easy prep meals with pop-top lids, various snacks for kids, and $20 gift cards to Kroger.

Congratulations to the McGavock HS Marching Band!  The band was named Grand Champion at the Vanderbilt Marching Invitational Saturday, October 5th.  The band received a superior rating and was named Champion of Class AAA and received first place Overall Drum Majors.  Personal Note:  I was a drum major in high school for two years and this award is very impressive!  The McGavock Band hosted the 41st Annual Music City Invitational at McGavock on Saturday, October 19th.  GO BIG MAC!

Big congratulations go to McGavock High School’s Academy of Aviation and Transportation’s Derek Rowe, who applied for a Harbor Freight Tools for Teachers award and among the hundreds of applications, he was one of 18 schools across the United States to receive a $55,000 award.  McGavock Executive Principal Robbin Wall made it very special by inviting special guests, including our School Board Member Anna Shepherd, State Rep Darren Jernigan, Council Member Steve Glover and me.  Harbor Freight’s Regional Manager, Kevin Hungate, personally presented the award to Mr. Rowe.  This award will go a long way to enhance the extraordinary educational opportunities in this academy!

McGavock Award

Thanks to the invite from US Representative Jim Cooper’s Office, I had the opportunity to speak to the senior class at McGavock High School about the importance of registering to vote and participating.  I really do appreciate the opportunity and this hits home for me as Joey just turned 18 and this past Council and Mayoral election was his first opportunity to vote.

McGavock High School Voter Registration

I had the pleasure of hosting a booth to support Pennington Elementary’s Fall Festival.  It was great to visit with students, parents, teachers and staff.  Pennington’s PTO is a great group of parents that go above and beyond to make their school a success.  Thanks to Janet Killingsworth, PTO President, and everyone who works hard on behalf of Pennington.

Pennington Fall Festival

I also had the pleasure of being part of PENCIL’s annual Principal for a Day event.  I joined Ken DuBray with Enbright Credit Union as Principals shadowing Jackie Kinzer, Principal at Pennington Elementary.  She does an amazing job and every classroom we walked into shows clearly that she’s created an atmosphere that parents, teachers and staff love.  She’s a model leader for MNPS and I’m very thankful for Ms. Kinzer’s leadership.

Principal for a Day

Big thanks to McGavock Elementary, Stanford Montessori and Pennington Elementary for taking part in Walk Bike Nashville’s Walk to School Day.  Pennington’s physical education teacher, Derryle Farmer, goes all out and it’s quite an event!  Thanks to each school for being part of this opportunity.

Pennington Walk to School Day 

Donelson School News, McGavock HS Marching Band

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.

 First Day at McGavock High School

First Day at McGavock High School

I was also honored to support our teachers and the McGavock High School PTO by contributing to a Back to School Teacher Appreciation Breakfast.

McGavock High School Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

The Donelson Gateway Project is launching a fundraising campaign to help fund a roughly $1,700 beautification project at the front of the school.  Thanks to JVI Secret Gardens for creating the plan.  Check out this great promo video posted on DGP’s Facebook page where you can donate towards this.

Here’s a great opportunity to volunteer and help a student with improving their literacy skills thanks to the Donelson-Hermitage YMCA.  See flyer below for details to contact them if you’re interested.

Donelson-Hermitage YMCA

Thank you to Metro Public Schools for adding six extra parking spots in the back lot of McGavock Elementary School. This will help facilitate better traffic flow and parents parking and walking their young children into school in the morning.

McGavock Elementary School Parking

Donelson School News

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

Donelson School News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

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


Donelson School News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

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

Donelson School News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

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

McGavock Coalition

Donelson School News, McGavock High School, Nashville Youth Basketball

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