NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Thousands of students will head back to the classrooms in Metro Nashville on Monday.
Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Dr. Adrienne Battle said they're returning better prepared.
She said the students are the heart of the work they do every single day, which is why the district has been working hard to make sure they have the proper teachers and staff in place to support students.
Like industries across the country, Metro Schools has struggled with filling open positions.
Dr. Battle said the district is seeing shortages in exceptional education, English learner programs, and specific math and science courses as well.
Even though there are some hurdles, the district is introducing something new this year. MNPS now has advocacy centers in all elementary schools and peace centers at all secondary schools.
It's a chance for the district to build a student's skill set around how to self-manage, how to improve their self-awareness, and how to advocate for themselves.
“It has been a dream for us to be in the space that levels support for students directly in the schools they are being served in so there is no delay in those supports. We're being extremely proactive and restorative in the way that we're helping students manage, self-regulate, but most importantly, maximize their instructional time,” Dr. Battle explained.
This school year, the district is also putting a lot of emphasis on safety and security, which comes after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May.
Elementary schools will receive additional attention and support from the Metro Nashville Police Department in the form of an officer assigned to each campus in the morning who can act as a visible presence and will also do regular visits throughout the day for check-ins and support.
Additionally, the district said the police department will collaborate with MNPS on a safety ambassador program in school buildings that will use retired police officers to help patrol the school and monitor for safety compliance while acting as a liaison between the school and the police department.
MNPD school resource officers will continue to be assigned at the middle and high school levels to support teachers and administrators Dr. Battle said.
Dr. Battle knows there's no perfect plan, but she says she's confident in the district's safety plan and procedures. She wants parents to know this is a situation she takes seriously.
"I know that our young people, our families send their kids to us daily to get a quality education, but they want them to be safe and that's the prioritization that we put on our safety plan. As a teacher, a professional educator, and an MNPS parent — that is a priority. That priority plays out for the 80,000 students that we're here to serve," Dr. Battle said.
The district said the added support enhances its safety and security, including:
- Annual emergency response planning through a collaboration between school administrators, MNPD and MNPS security.
- Classroom doors that open outward and lock from the inside to protect occupants in the event of a lockdown or active shooter incident.
- Networked security camera systems.
- Security vestibules in nearly all MNPS schools that allow for an extra level of barrier and protection against an irate parent, community member, or active shooter. Using funds made available by the Metro Council and Mayor John Cooper, MNPS will be completing these projects at the remainder of our schools this year.
- Campus Support (formerly Campus Supervisor) positions within our schools receive training from MNPS security and serve to monitor for safety and security compliance throughout the day while providing support related to behavioral incidents when needed. These positions currently exist at the middle and high school levels, and MNPS is exploring expanding this program to the elementary level.