As a river port and railroad center, Nashville attracted a diverse population from its inception in 1779. It has continued to flourish as a destination for citizens and immigrants of varied income levels. Nashville’s famous music, top universities, and thriving health care industry often deflect attention from an incredibly stark level of inequity, especially in the school system. In 2016, just 11 percent of students achieved an ACT score that indicated they were prepared to enter college or a career. Recognizing the inequity in education, our city and state have unleashed powerful initiatives to help address this issue.
When diverse, dynamic people come together, incredible things can happen—Nashville is proof of it. Teach For America began our partnership with the Nashville community in 2009 with the leadership of the mayor and a group of local philanthropists who came together to champion for bringing more high-performing teachers to the city. Since that year, we have recruited and trained over 800 teachers for high-need Nashville classrooms.
Through the development and support provided by Teach For America, corps members have been found by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to be among the most effective teachers in the state for the last six years in a row. The report also notes Teach For America Nashville teachers are more racially and ethnically diverse than the statewide average (85 percent white across the state versus 66 percent in Teach For America Nashville).
For long-term change to take effect, we are working to create a movement of individuals committed to collective impact on students.