Pitch perfect: taking you inside the 'Shark Tank' of education to solve issues in the classroom

Pitch Presentations
Posted at 8:31 PM, Mar 09, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — We're all familiar with the concept of Shark Tank, the show in which hopefuls pitch their ideas to more established entrepreneurs.

In January, I introduced you to a group of "Teacherpreneurs" who pitched their ideas to better local classrooms and schools. In early March, I attended the most recent Shark Tank-style pitch night to see how these great ideas come to fruition.

"We select a cohort of around 11 to 12 teachers each year who go through a very rigorous experience," said Katie Cour, CEO of the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF). "They come together on a roughly every-other-week basis for several months to learn about both systems change — what we need to do so solve those big problems that our happening in our classrooms, as well as learn how to worth with people to make change stick."

NPEF along with Amazon supports the Shark Tank approach to finding dedicated and innovative Metro teachers like this year's "Pitch Presenters" representing all levels of public education. Judges from the educational and entrepreneurial worlds. It took them just 25 minutes to select the top winners.

Hillsboro High School science and biology teacher Nathan Fields won second place and a prize of $7,500 for his plan to create a challenge-based badge program designed alongside students to grow interest in science.

"The important thing is, especially with students who may have disabilities — being able to do work alongside them and their peers without disabilities — seeing those inclusive moments being able to happen through opportunities like this," said Fields.

First place went to Dr. Jennifer Love of East Nashville Magnet High School, who addressed more access to mental health especially for athletes.

"We can not afford to address teenage mental health in the same ways that we have been — it's not working," said Love. "Our athletes are so connected to school already and they already have that buy-in, so what better way to have students buy-in to mental health as well. "

Of the 11 teachers who participated in Pitch Night, the top four were given monetary gifts from $2,500 $10,000. The other participants were gifted $1,000.

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