Metro Schools director gives first State of Schools address

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph gave his first State of Schools address Monday where he outlined the plan for the district’s future.

“Nashville, this is our moment. We can’t hold back,” said the new director. “We need to reach deeply within ourselves for our children. We have a plan and we have a determined spirit.”

During his address, Dr. Joseph spoke about equity and access to advanced academic program, as well as focusing on students and employees.

“We need to send a message that all students are an asset to our community, regardless of their race, ethnicity, country of origin or who their parents are. Every child deserves equitable chances to succeed in life,” he said.MORE: Read Dr. Joseph’s full State of Schools Address

Under his plan for the future, Joseph is asking for an additional $3.4 million to support literacy, which would allow for a literacy teacher development specialist at every Metro school.

“This is the greatest civil right we can give our children – the ability to read, speak and comprehend,” he explained.

Dr. Joseph also wants to spend an additional $5.7 million on services for English language learners by hiring more than 30 new teachers to accommodate the growing population of students and equip them with necessary professional development and supports they need.

He is also asking for $23 million for teacher raises.

More than 500 people attended the event.

The Metro School Board will look at the requests Tuesday and Dr. Joseph will meet with Mayor Megan Barry later this week to discuss the budget.

The mayor, who introduced Dr. Joseph at the State of Metro Schools address, said there have been a lot of budget requests before her that add up to more funding than is available, “but but we are looking forward to funding as much as we can.”

At Nashville’s Whitsett Elementary in the Woodbine neighborhood, they are hoping increased English Language Learning funds will help students there since 60 percent of the them fall into the ELL category.

Teachers like Angie Phelps and Principal Justin Uppinghouse said before and after school activities in reading and math to support the grade level content is one area where more funding would help.

They said other areas where money would go included continued support in academic vocabulary development strategies and continued support for non-English speaking parents/guardians to help them with their child’s education.

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