Bailey MS Tries To Make Intersession More Accessible To Students
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Nashville Public Schools hoped its students would spend the week participating in special programs designed to increase student achievement.
The schools called it Intersession, but to most students it was just an extra week of spring break.
Despite being a high poverty district, Metro was not providing transportation and/or lunch at most programs that only last half a day. Those were some reasons why few students chose to participate, but one school decided to remove the barriers and take a different approach with no strict dress code and no back packs.
"You'll learn new things. It's not like being in school to tell you the truth," said Jeremy Nabaa, Bailey STEM Magnet 7th grader.
This week, Metro students got a break from traditional classes.
"This afternoon we get to go to Shelby Park," environmental science teacher Dr. Sydika McKissic said. "And they're going to test the lake water there."
Unlike most Metro Schools, Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School organized a full day of special programs. Thanks to donations and a grant, school leaders were able to provide transportation and lunch to get students in the door.
"We found in our first pilot semester that our families, especially our working families, it worked so much better if we could have an 8 (am) to 3 (pm), a longer day," Principal Dr. Christian Sawyer said.
It was not mandatory for students to attend Intersession. Twenty-five percent showed up at Bailey Middle School.
"Personally I came to see my friends, to keep in touch," 7th grader LaZyreia Taylor said.
Students were getting hands on experience, where their lessons were being applied to the real world.
"And I also came to get a little bit more push for TCAP because I'm proficient and I want to get to that advanced," Taylor said. "So I know if I do come, I'll get the things that I need to know."
Students also received one-on-one TCAP tutoring in areas they're specifically struggling in.
"We're approaching TCAP and we want to make use of the time we have to advance and accelerate learning," Sawyer said.
That was the whole point of Intersession.
"Here's more fun," Taylor said. "You feel like you're at a different place kind of, even though you're still learning but you don't really think about it as learning."
It was a Metro Schools experiment, and most students have chosen not to be a part of it.
District-wide, Metro says about 12,000 students signed up for programs, that's about 15 percent of the total student population. Attendance figures were not available to determine how many actually showed up.