Natalie Martin spent nearly 15 years as an assistant principal in Metro Nashville Public Schools but the retired administrator felt so compelled to do something about the city's youth violence problem that she has now found herself back in the classroom, trying to help.
Martin, 52, retired from Haywood Elementary School four years ago. In January of 2018 though she came back to MNPS as a teacher, determined to help the city's youth who are repeatedly turning to violence as Nashville continues to experience unprecedented growth.
"We're not paying attention to these kids as human beings. We're missing something, we have to get to the core of our children and let them know that they have a purpose," she says.
Martin, who spends her summers tutoring, believes the city's growth is part of the reason why teens are turning to violence.
"Family's are being left behind. I just recently learned this new term which is "suburban poor," now we have pockets of people who have to move but where are they gonna go?" she wonders.
In an effort to do something, Natalie is trying to launch a program she's calling "I can be, what I can see," the purpose is to get teenagers to take the YouScience aptitude test, then place them with businesses that volunteer to mentor the kids in areas where they show proficiency.
"You allow children to see who they are, what they can do, partner them with someone and then they don’t have to be out on the streets stealing cars," Natalie says.
She's currently working to secure funding for the program and get others in the community involved.