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Last summer, the NCS teachers began training in Cooperative Learning through Kagan Cooperative Learning Workshops. Cooperative learning is a way to increase student engagement by organizing lessons so that students are involved in showing what they know by speaking because we know that we "retain a great deal more of what we say than what we hear." Cooperative learning structures also support social/emotional development and classroom management. When using cooperative learning structures the students have positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. This picture shows a team building game with a balloon. Through team building, students come to know, like, and respect their teammates. In the process, a group of virtual strangers becomes a powerful learning team.
What Does it Look Like?
A cooperative learning structured class would include healthy noise rather than just a quiet class. Instead of students being told to “keep your eyes on your paper” the students are engaged with one another by helping their partner or group to solve the problem. Students may be up looking around at what classmates have accomplished and produced rather than sitting quietly.
When cooperative learning is properly implemented, it is a powerful approach resulting in positive outcomes. This success is based on four basic principles. When these principles are in place, cooperative learning produces positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction. As these principles are implemented in the classroom, we, as teachers, unleash the full potential of cooperative learning. This empowers NCS to create classrooms where students work together, acquire social skills, care about each other, and achieve more. This helps NCS educators be effective teachers where students learn to their full potential.
Cooperative learning has the potential to be a solution for four different crises: achievement crisis, achievement gap crisis, race relations crisis, and social skills crisis. Kagan says, “Cooperative learning provides in the school a surrogate, stable community in which prosocial values and skills are nurtured and developed.” In addition to these positive outcomes, cooperative learning also can improve communication and language acquisition skills, self-esteem, increased motivation, decreased discipline issues, and improve critical thinking.
Our teachers here at NCS are using cooperative learning strategies in their classes. Check out these strategies in action in the videos below!
Thanks to an anonymous $2 million donation to kick off our upcoming capital campaign, Nashville Christian School is breaking ground on some new classrooms! This space will include two regular classrooms, additional storage, an open-concept flex room, and a state-of-the-art science lab which will open up the current middle school science lab for our elementary students.
On May 24, 2019, we held a special Groundbreaking Ceremony and invited our current families to come out and celebrate with us. If you missed it, you can watch the Facebook live video we shared below!
Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming capital campaign and more great additions planned for Nashville Christian School!
8th Grade Renewal is always a special celebration for our middle school. It is a time to celebrate our graduating 8th grade class, say goodbye to middle school, and recognize them as new high school students. Brett Posavac and Donovan Smith were chosen to represent the middle school student body as leaders of their class through their excellent academic accomplishments. Both students spoke during the ceremony of their memorable middle school experiences. They talked about the accomplishments of their classmates, overcoming struggles, and the amazing middle school memories that were created. They also encouraged their classmates to continue to support each other as they proceed through the next four years of their academic careers.
Donovan Smith was also the winner of The Eagle Award. This award goes to an 8th grader who has lived out our school's mission throughout the year. Our mission is to be a Christian, authentic, dynamic school equipping students to be global leaders. The winner is chosen by the middle school faculty and staff and here's what Donovan's teachers had to say about him:
Donovan always has a smile and goes above and beyond what is asked. He is eager to learn and never hesitates to ask questions to be sure there is full understanding of the content. He seeks others who may be struggling with making friends and goes out of his way to be sure he is making a difference in our world. Donovan Smith is a Christian, authentic, dynamic leader who is making a difference in our world.
Congratulations to all of our graduating 8th grade students!
This year's valedictorian, Abby Shivers, is ready to head to the prestigious University of Chicago in the fall to double major in neuroscience and psychology with a minor in Spanish. The University of Chicago had a very selective 5.9% acceptance rate this year (tied with Yale University), but Abby will get to go for free with over $748,988 in college scholarships awarded to her! We recently sat down with Abby to talk about her journey through high school and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
What made you decide to go to the University of Chicago?
I was really torn between Emory and the University of Chicago for about a year and a half. When it came down to it, Emory was closer to home, but the University of Chicago was more academically rigorous, and they have a lot of opportunities for research and internships. They have revamped their entire career advancement program, and when I get there, I’ll have a college counselor and a career counselor. They have more undergrad internships with Chicago-based companies available for U of Chicago students than they actually have students at the university. All of their internships guarantee that you will get actual work experience, and they are all paid internships.
At what point in your high school career did you realize you were in the running for valedictorian and how did that drive your decision-making?
I always had the mindset that Sydney Cantrell would be the valedictorian because she was ahead of me in math. It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I realized if I took all the hardest classes available, that I might be able to pass her. I knew I wanted to apply to a strong academic school, and I knew taking all the hardest classes would help me towards that goal as well.
What was the college application process like?
U of Chicago’s application process is a little different from the rest. This year, they changed to where they don’t require standardized test scores, though you can send them in if you feel they are a good reflection of you as a student. I ended up sending mine in. They also look at your transcript to see if you are taking the most advanced classes offered at your school and how you did. They look at your common application essay, which goes to every college, but they also have their own writing supplement with two questions. First is the “Why U of Chicago?” essay where you explain why you want to go to their school and what makes you a good fit for them. When I was doing that one, I made sure to mention specific classes and campus events I knew they had that I wanted to participate in. The other writing portion is called the “U of Chicago Supplement,” which is one of the things they are known for. They give you some very strange prompts to choose from. The one I ended up doing was, “Find x.” That was all it said. It was so vague, I thought this was an opportunity for me to show them how I could take nothing and make it go to something.
How did you feel when you found out you got accepted?
I wasn’t expecting to get in. I knew I had the capability. I had the scores, I had the numbers, I had extra-curricular activities. But with hard colleges, if you’re not the exact type of puzzle piece they’re looking for, you’re not in. I knew the day I would find out and that it would be afternoon. I was getting ready to go home, and I knew I hadn’t received an email, but I decided to log in to my portal and see, and it said “status update.” I clicked on it, and it said, “Congratulations,” and I just started screaming. It was a really big shock.
In what ways did Nashville Christian prepare you that made a difference?
I think the major thing that influenced my application was the ability to be involved. At really big schools, it’s hard to be involved in a lot of different things and still try to get good grades. Here I can do a lot of things, TSA (Technology Student Association), National Honor Society, Spanish, Thespian Society, and be able to do them all well. And Mrs. Harper. She’s a really good writing teacher. I always hated writing, but my junior year I ended up getting really good at writing in her class, and I just always loved her as a teacher. During the application process, she sat down with me and really helped me go over my essays.
So you were awarded quite a lot of scholarship money. Tell us about that process.
I was pretty scared about money because U of Chicago is very expensive. But they are very good about giving merit-based scholarships. They gave me quite a bit of merit-based scholarship money. I also applied for a big scholarship called the Elk Most Valuable Student Scholarship. I made it all the way to the national level, and they gave me $1,000 per year. But through that process, your district also looks at the applications and gives local scholarships. For our county, they chose three males and three females, and I was chosen as one of those for $2,000. The other big scholarship I applied for was a Scarlett Family Foundation STEM Scholarship. They ended up giving me $15,000 per year.
How did you find scholarships?
Our college counselor, Mrs. King, uploads a lot of scholarships through Naviance, a college-planning tool that we use. Then some weekends I would spend a couple of hours looking up scholarships, and I applied for a lot of those. That’s how I found the Elk Most Valuable Student Scholarship.
What advice would you give to younger students who are driven and want to go to a prestigious school?
You have to try really hard. And you have to take ownership. Once you get to your junior and senior year, all of your classes will be college level. So you have to have self-awareness. You have to take a lot of time outside of class. Right now, I’m getting up at 5:00am every morning to do AP Calculus review because the exam is in a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of outside effort you have to put in so you have to have a certain level of commitment. And definitely go ahead and start looking at colleges your sophomore and junior year to figure out what would be a good fit for you.
What are you looking forward to the most about going to college?
Probably just being in Chicago itself. It’s a very “foodie” city and that’s exciting. The school is really close to Hyde Park, which is nice. And I’m just excited to get going with my future.
I recently had the opportunity to attend Ron Clark Academy’s professional development training with some fellow NCS teachers. In many ways, the experience is simply indescribable. However, after being asked to share about this amazing experience, I decided to try my best.
The Ron Clark Academy is a non-profit middle school in Atlanta, Georgia where students come from a wide range of economic backgrounds. This school is performing at such a high level of academic rigor and student engagement that it is revered among many educators. Possibly the most successful piece of RCA’s intentional and revolutionary style is the sense of community held between their students, faculty, and parents.
Walking into the building is similar to visiting Disney World for the first time. The excitement and magic are tangible not only between the incoming teachers but also among the students who welcome you at the doors. Loud music plays as you walk in on a red carpet, and students greet you while they dance around together; always with a smile and a firm handshake. They help you get through their “Harry Potter” themed building while asking pertinent and personal questions about your life. There were many times I forgot that I was speaking to fifth and sixth-grade students instead of seasoned conversationalists and professional adults.
I could go on and on about the “experience”, but what I truly seek to focus on and pursue is how these methods can be brought into my own classroom and into our beautiful community that is already present at Nashville Christian School. We might not have a fire-breathing dragon in the auditorium or a two-story slide in our entryway, but there are so many incredible ways we can bring magical and intangible items with us into our classes.
Change always starts at the top with teachers who are excited and passionate about teaching. This is the reason the RCA students were happy and excited - their teachers started the trend! My goal is to be more intentional with my students about raising the bar academically and giving them challenges that create grit along with their learning. I want to encourage and cultivate social skills from making eye contact, to speaking directly and listening actively. I desire to have conversations with my students that go past the surface level and move into deeper concepts. I will choose to engage my kids through movement, discussion, and creativity to help them achieve more. I want to create a bigger sense of belonging for every child, not only in my class but also within the school building.
This experience will stay with me long after the school year ends, and I hope it will continue to change the way I approach teaching for years to come.
With bullying, school shootings and teen suicide on the rise, NCS senior Tollie Boone was inspired to create this powerful spoken word and song in response – Only Yesterday.
"When I started writing this, it was just a short little poem that I really thought nothing about. It was just something to get off my brain to help me fall asleep. After I finished writing, I realized that this world isn’t as safe as it was when I was younger. I used to be able to go outside and not have to worry if someone was going to hurt me. Now in today’s society, we have to increase security and make rules more strict. Keeping people out only invites more problems in. The only way we can help someone is if we ask. We can’t keep ignoring one another thinking that one day we will say something to them. That 'one day' we have now might not always be there. Galatians 6:10 says, 'Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people…'"
These pictures are from our bridge-building activity in 3rd grade. We read a story called Pop’s Bridge, told from the point of view of a child whose father was a skywalker building the Golden Gate Bridge. The child has a change in mindset when he realizes ALL the workers on the bridge were important and necessary.
Before we build our bridges, we study other bridges, paying close attention to design. Each child draws an idea after learning who is on his or her team. Each team chooses a design to build, and they build it with 100 toothpicks and 50 gumdrops. Today we tested our ability to work as a team for a common purpose. We will test our bridge designs for strength and stability on Monday.
What do you do at NCS?
I teach elementary art, middle school art, and high school Art I.
Tell us a little about your background (where you grew up, where you went to college, family, pets, etc.).
I grew up in sunny Florida. I always loved art as a child and knew that it was a natural way for me to express myself so I studied art education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. I started teaching art right after I graduated and have been teaching for 15 years now. My husband, Conrad and I have 3 children. Ellie is 10, Sarah is 5, and Jonah is 1. We moved to Nashville last summer and we are loving it here.
What is your favorite thing to do?
My favorite thing to do is to run. I always feel better after a run. Running is how I clear my mind and get lost in worship. It’s a time to myself to get outside. I just love it.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know the kids and being a part of their day. I love for the art room to be a bright spot in a child’s day.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
My least favorite part of my job is cleaning up constantly from paint to clay to more paint. Teaching art is a messy job!
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would be a lifeguard in Hawaii.
You teach high schoolers – if you could go back and give your high school self any advice, what would it be?
I would tell my high school self to think of others as more important than yourself. I think it’s easy as a teenager to be self absorbed. I wish I would have looked outside of myself a lot more.
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I would like to have a super power of blinking my eyes and the house is clean and the laundry is done!
What is the best book you have ever read?
The Shack was my favorite book. I remember writing down so many meaningful quotes.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
I’ve run 12 full marathons.
The newly-formed Junior Eagle Council decided to spread some cheer by inviting other elementary students to join them in painting 615 Rocks and planting them around the Bellevue community. 615 Rocks! is an initiative to build community by planting these creative rocks for people to find and then share on the 615 Rocks! Facebook page. Nashville Christian School President Mrs. Shelton spotted one in a tree near her parking space. If you have an Eagle eye and you spot one of our rocks, you can help spread the fun by posting a picture of it on the 615 Rocks! Facebook page here.
The Elementary Art Show was such a great night of celebrating the creativity our our youngest eagles. Everyone was excited to see their artwork framed and show it off to their families. It was great to see the students that received ribbons beaming with pride. Families got to slow down from their busy schedules and enjoy some time to do art together. How often does that happen? We had origami, drawing, spin art, and even shrinky dinks.
We also took time on this special night to honor someone very special to the Nashville Christian family, Mrs. Fran Sexton. Fran blessed Nashville Christian School and its students for thirteen years. Mrs. Sexton has served as a second grade teacher, art teacher, and administrator. When students were asked to share thoughts about Mrs. Sexton they were quick to respond, lovingly.
Here's what some of her former students had to say about her:
"I remember the bird painting we did. I loved that project." - Griffin Smith
"She pushed us to perfection." - Peyton Woodard
"I remember the beach project that we did and still have it hanging on my wall." - Julia Belle
"She let me stay after class to work on a special project that is still hanging on my wall at home." - Millie Boone
"We did different projects that I thought would turn out weird, but they always turned out cool." - Devin Ray
Mrs. Sexton served as a mentor to our teachers and always spread an attitude of positivity. Her love for the school continues when she visits just to say hello. We miss seeing Mrs. Sexton every day and wish her the best in her retirement.
What a great night, and we can't wait until next year's art show!
Congratulations to the ribbon winners:
First place: Olivia Cart, Red and Blue Makes Purple Cat
Second place: Walker Overbay, Pears Still-Life
Third place: Malachi Payne, Yellow and Blue Make Green Frog
First place: Duncan Holt, Pears Still-Life
Second place: Cooper Daugherty, Rousseau Inspired Tiger
Third place: Scout Green, Romero Britto Face
First place: Joshua Peffer, Rose Window Design
Second place: Peyton Kubik, Cutouts Inspired by Matisse
Third place: London Biggs, Landscape with Rocks
First place: Ellie Sheehan, Landscape with Rocks
Second place: AJ Page, Landscape with Mountains
Third place: Isaiah Moore, Toucan
First place: Bryson Elizer, Self-Portrait
Second place: Landan Cooper, Self-Portrait
Third place: Caleb Hamilton, Football
First place: Christopher Mitchell, Self-Portrait
Second place: Mia Ryckman, Self-Portrait
Third place: Jane Claire Gill, The Wave
We have a few new teachers who joined the Nashville Christian School staff this year, and we wanted to help you get to know them a little better. Mr. Goff teaches Algebra and Pre-Calculus in the high school, but here are a few things you might not know about him:
Tell us a little about your background:
I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and went to school at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where I met my wonderful wife, Colleen, in a Biology class. Colleen works in interior design and architecture, and together we have two puppies - Mies and Mobi (9 and 8 months old). Mies is a Mini Australian Shepard (named after Mies van Der Rohe, a famous German architect), and Mobi is an Australian Cattle Dog (named after August Mobius, a famous mathematician).
What is your favorite thing to do?
My (two) favorite things to do are to cook, and to play the board game Patchwork with my wife.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing a student's face when they realize they understand a difficult math concept.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
That I can't bring my dogs with me.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would love to work in journalism or be a political commentator.
You teach high schoolers – if you could go back and give your high school self any advice, what would it be?
Don't pressure yourself into knowing what career you're going to have or what major you'll be before you graduate high school. As of 2013, the average college student changes their major 3 times, and the average person changes careers 5-7 times over their lifetime. Be flexible, take classes in subjects you love, and make strong connections with your teachers in high school (and professors in college).
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I mean... can I just be Spider-Man?
What is the best book you have ever read?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, followed very closely by One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Throughout high school, I got better grades in English than in math (and I won 5 different poetry contests my junior and senior years).
For the last 15 years, NCS has participated in the annual Jr. Beta convention, hosted at the Opryland Hotel. Students from all over Tennessee travel to Nashville and compete in various competitions that test your brain, leadership, team-building skills, and creativity. You also get to make new friends and build friendships with others along the way.
This year, Nashville Christian School competed in various competitions such as poetry, quiz bowl, photography, sculpting, and much more. 8th grader Madison Turner placed fifth in the sculpture competition. Speaking for myself, I know that everybody on this trip learned so much while doing things they enjoyed. I can’t wait to see what we will achieve next year in Jr Beta.
An important part of senior year is Job Shadow Day. Not only are our seniors trying to decide where to go to college, but what they want to do for a living. This year's students explored lots of different careers and here's what some of them had to say about what they learned:
I loved job shadow day! I got to meet an up and coming country music artist, Jay Allen, and got to sit in the recording studio with him. I also got to learn a lot about promotions in the music business. - Makenna Paszek
I shadowed a professor of music at Lipscomb University. I took his music theory and classical piano classes. - Will Batty
Job shadowing a dance teacher was actually very informative for me. Seeing the varying levels of communication between Payton with the little kids, the middle school kids, and the advanced kids was really interesting because that is something I have a hard time with. I learned about the realities of doing something in the arts for a career, not just the fun hour classes at the studio, but the work that goes into it. Overall it was a really fun experience. - Ryan Leflar
I job shadowed my youth minister and friend David Lee who is a building contractor, and also works for the Gospel Advocate. My experience was fun and entertaining, as I followed him around and helped put up dry wall, mail packages, and other things. I spent abou 4 hours with him doing this and enjoyed it. - Will Connelly
I enjoyed my job shadow day. I shadowed the finance department at Healthtrust. I learned how what I'm learning in statistics class relates to the real world. - Warren Hanson
I had a great time at Dr. Manning’s dentist office for shadow day. I was able to watch a hygienist clean teeth, and Dr. Manning put in a couple crowns for people who needed them. I also was able to watch a tooth be made, very cool. - Cassidy Rice
I went to see the post production center of CMT. I watched an experienced editor work on an interview of the new American idol judges. It was a fun and interesting experience. - Cade Thompson
My job shadow experience made me feel somewhat amazed. I never thought that even a business as relatively small as where I shadowed (Compass Cinema) could be so productive. - Ford Hulgan
I enjoyed going to Hunt Memorials with my dad and Charlie Hunt. We went to a location and put up monuments. We then went back to their office, and my father showed me how to design stones on his computer. - Maverick Marlin
I spent my job shadow day with an actor that is married to my mom’s friend. He has been in multiple films and tv shows; his most recent being Barb’s father in season 2 of Stranger Things. - Jackson Forte
On my job shadow day, I shadowed Seth Gunnells, a web developer at GS&F. He has helped develop many high caliber websites, such as LP’s website. Throughout the day, I met with several different people who explained what a typical work day would be like. It helped me determine that computer science is actually what I want to major in. - Chad Kinnard
For my job shadow at Bellevue Animal Hospital, I was able to help out with a dental appointment on a dog, assist with antibiotics for a dog with an ear infection (turns out it was Libby Weatherly’s bulldog), help re-bandage an 8-week-old puppy’s broken leg, and sit in on regular checkups with other cats and dogs. I really enjoyed spending my day at the vets office, and it really solidified my decision to major in pre vet next year. - Sara Wilson
I shadowed an eletrical engineer for job shadow day. He works from home so I went to his house, shadowed what he did, and then had lunch and asked him some questions about engineering and Tennessee Tech. - Nick Mynatt
My Job Shadow experience was quite interesting! I shadowed my Dad's team, which included IT Auditors, Cyber Security phishers, and data analysts who worked for LifePoint Hospitals. I spent a full day, from 8am-5pm, learning about the job, the company, and the specifics. Overall, I had a great day learning about Computer Sciences and enjoying a day to live in the real world. - Chandler White
For my job shadow I went to Civil Sites Design group. They have a new building that overlooks downtown and I got to go see some Job sites. I learned a lot about the different architecture and engineering jobs that are out there and I think that’s what I would like to do when I get older. - Brooks Cummings
I got the opportunity to shadow two home health nurses and go on two home visits in the low income public housing area. These mothers are faced with multiple social issues due to their low socioeconomic status therefore they welcome the nurses to come into the home to teach them parenting skills and child development. While on the visits, I watched and listened to the nurses carefully on how they acted with the children and spoke with the mothers. I enjoyed being able to learn about the struggles that some people face in my very own home town. I cannot wait to become a nurse and help these people in my surrounding area! - Libby Weatherly
I was able to job shadow a Engineer for Skanska construction company. I got to see what it was like being a higher chained engineer on a job site. We were working on the new LifeWay building downtown and I was able to meet the owners of the building. It was an insightful experience that I will never forget. - Nathan Gaidos
On Monday, October 9th, several of our English students had the privilege of watching a powerful performance of Stand, a new play by Jim Reyland that brings a new perspective to homelessness. Stand has only two characters: Mark, a salesman, and Johnny, a homeless man struggling from years of drug addiction. It is a true story based on Reyland’s relationship with John Robert Ellis, a homeless man he befriended and tried to help for nearly a decade before Ellis was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2011.
The show is part of TPAC’s Humanities Outreach in Tennessee and ticket sales benefit Room in the Inn, a Tennessee organization that offers emergency services, transitional programs, and long-term solutions to help people rebuild their lives. The Founding Director of Room in the Inn, Charles Strobel, was in attendance and spoke to our students after the performance and answered their questions. Here’s what some of our students had to say about how they were impacted by Stand.
The thing about the play that was so impactful to me was the realistic portrayal of recovery, showing how it’s more of a two steps forward one step backwards kind of process rather than a straight line constantly going upwards. I liked how the two characters helped each other equally, and the relationship they shared. – Jolie Harper
I like that the man [Mark] stepped out of his normal routine and helped the homeless man. I learned that sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and help others. – Hampton Taron
It was super eye-opening as to how we should treat others no matter the circumstances they are in. - Anna Jones
I thought the play was very deep on how you may think you are better than homeless people, but you are really just the same but with more money. And other people who may be homeless don't always have the childhood and conditions it takes to be successful, and they end up that way, all by things they can't control. - Hope McWright
I learned that homelessness isn't easy to get out of. It is not necessarily about being lazy, but about falling into a cycle of hopelessness. Homeless people aren't treated with the same respect as other people are and that was really impactful to me. –Annmarie Alexander
I found the fact that the man took a lot of time to befriend and take care of the homeless man very impactful. I see homeless people people all the time, but this man had the courage to help him on a personal level. – Riley Griffin
Addiction is a serious thing, and its not easy to walk away from as people may think. Also, homelessness is a serious thing that many people ignore, but there are those who recognize it like Mark did. What we don’t realize is that the homeless can help us too. They give us a whole different view of life. – Ben Simpson
The act of helping someone is where the real worth is, not whether or not they've recovered. It's a 'journey is more important than the destination' type situation. – Nate Lewis
This was my second time seeing Stand as I first saw the play on a drama field trip freshman year. I believe that this time I put more thought into the idea that it may not have been Jonny's fault for the situation he was in. I took away that some people may have genetic traits that simply make them more likely to become addicted to substances and that substance abuse may be less of a choice and more of a trap people fall into. – Dominic Stephens
Charles Strobel encouraged students that the best way they can help right now is to support the larger systems which are already in place and change the conversation about the homeless. Room in the Inn currently has 190 congregations in Middle Tennessee that provide food and shelter, a downtown campus, and over 6,500 volunteers. To learn more about how you can help Room in the Inn, go to roomintheinn.org.
Ask any one of the NCS students who spent two weeks in Europe what their favorite part of the trip was, and you’ll likely get many different answers.
Maybe it was the last night in Normandy, when we walked barefoot on Gold Beach, where the British forces landed on D-Day, the cool winds of the English Channel not enough to stop one student from diving head first into the frigid water and swimming to the remains of the artificial harbors.
Maybe it was the next night, in Paris, when we all ventured to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and made it down just in time to see the light show, some of us thinking, in hindsight, the elevator really would have been better than the stairs.
Or, for some, it was the morning in the Alps, driving past the crystal blue rivers on the way to Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s mountain retreat, where he only visited fourteen times to entertain people of significance, but many of us would have stayed forever given the chance.
And, in between, the moments no less significant: walking where bunkers once stood at Dachau Concentration Camp and feeling the emotional pull of the events that occurred there decades ago; a moment difficult to label as a favorite, but still meaningful in its own right. Or the American Cemetery, in Normandy, hearing the Star Spangled Banner play as the waves of Omaha Beach rolled in the distance. Touring through Notre Dame during mass, as the late afternoon sun streamed through a stained glass window onto a priest in red robes, or having our first (and possibly last) sauerkraut on the last night in Munich.
Maybe it was running after a train in London after spending too much time gazing at Big Ben and the Elizabethan Tower lit up at night, watching the Glockenspiel in Munich perform its nightly show, seeing the Mona Lisa, or touring the gardens at Versailles.
Or, maybe, the best part was looking around at dinner, seeing the exhausted, happy looks on everyone’s faces, and the agreement that, even after two weeks together, we could have gone two more.
For two weeks, NCS students toured five countries with the purpose of experiencing the history of World War II firsthand. They explored Churchill’s London war room, touched the Nazi bunker walls in the Alps, and stood in foxholes Allied soldiers used during the Battle of the Bulge. They wondered how a cathedral in Cologne escaped destruction from Allied bombing, and learned how a country learns from its mistakes at the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin before laying hands on what remains of the wall that once divided a country in two.
Ask any one of the NCS students who spent two weeks in Europe what their favorite part of the trip was, and you’ll likely get many different answers. Ask them if they’d do it again, and you’ll likely only get one answer.
For a student perspective on the trip, see junior Hope McWright's story here.
Algebra 1 students put their math skills to work and created a "Math Escape Room" for 4th and 5th grade students related to their math standards. They started out by visiting Breakout Nashville to try it for themselves and learn how it is done. Breakout Nashville is a popular new form of entertainment where players have an hour to break out of a room by cracking codes, solving riddles, piecing together puzzles and finding clues. After the Algebra I students escaped the room they played, they were able to meet with some of the game creators to talk about what goes into making a successful escape room. They then spent several weeks designing a math-based escape room for elementary students.
Once the escape room design was complete, the 4th and 5th graders were ready to try their hand at making an escape. Each group was given 30 minutes to solve a mystery. The backstory they were given was:
You and your friends are at a birthday party. The parents have left to get food for the party, and you have decided to find the birthday presents and get out before they come back.
Each group had a different approach to working together and solving clues. Some groups took it all the way down to the last second, but every group managed to put their math skills to work and escape with the presents! Here’s what some of them had to say about this unique math lesson:
"Back in November's silent auction, Caleigh Posavac's parents bid on "Principal for the Day" and landed her a special day in the elementary offices. Principal Posavac observed classes, praised students by handing out Eagle Wings, helped prepare the hot cocoa party for second grade, and wrote notes of encouragement.
Thank you, Principal Posavac for making your day a great one! It was wonderful to see you in this role and the smiles you brought out in the Elementary Eagles. I hope you had a memorable day. Be on the lookout for future "Principal of the Day" opportunities.
Seventeen Nashville Christian physics students were excited to attend the annual Lipscomb STEM Day event last month. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
On this field trip, our students experienced hands-on activities in biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics, engineering, and psychology. In one session, they learned basic computer coding, and in another, built models to demonstrate how civil engineers add strength to buildings with trusses. The students then spent some time in the lab learning about the chemistry of fireworks, flame-testing various chemicals to record their unique colors! They also used spectroscopes to identify the absorption spectrum of elements.
Careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy. Through STEM, Nashville Christian Students are becoming critical thinkers, increasing science literacy, and becoming the next generation of innovators!
Four Nashville Christian School teachers recently had the opportunity to fulfill a dream listed on their “teacher bucket lists." The first week in February, Anissa Demonbreun (5th grade), Tori Lane (5th grade), Shelley Greenlee (4th grade), and Jeanne Graham (3rd grade) attended Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA. Ron Clark is an American educator who has worked with disadvantaged students in North Carolina, inner city New York, and most currently in his own school, Ron Clark Academy. The two-day training included opportunities for our NCS teachers to not only learn from Mr. Clark, but also experience his way of teaching for themselves. RCA (Ron Clark Academy) believes in keeping students engaged through several techniques including the "55 Essential Rules” coined by Mr. Clark himself.
RCA has been featured in a multitude of media outlets, including “CBS This Morning” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show." The 130 RCA students (grades 5th - 8th) have the opportunity to not only attend this private institution for an academic education, but they also learn social and life skills that prepare them for the next level. Most RCA students come from extremely low-income families. Upon entering RCA in the 5th grade, students are in the 13th-15th percentile in academic standings. RCA prides itself on the hard work that its very small faculty and student body put in each and every day. The past three years, RCA has produced testing scores over the 93rd percentile! How do they do this? Through extreme teaching techniques that keep students engaged, challenged and ALWAYS thinking. There is no down time, and teachers expect students to be active, team learners that debate and guide one another to answers.
While visiting RCA, our teachers spent many hours in classrooms and came back renewed and full of ideas. All four teachers were excited to share their newfound inspiration with their coworkers and were given the opportunity to share and train other NCS teachers at a recent faculty meeting. Here's what they had to say about the experience:
“RCA was easily one of the top five best experiences of my life. I was brought to tears watching students engage with one another, and overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and appreciation they showed us as educators. These kids come from nothing and value everything about their education. It was life-changing as a teacher, and made me want to work even harder.”
- Shelley Greenlee
“Being an educator for 23 years that has attended many professional developments, RCA was by far the best experience I have attended in all my years of teaching. We were able to watch and participate in classes where teaching and learning techniques were taken entirely to a new level. It showed us as teachers that rigor and learning can be fun while instilling good character traits in students. The confidence the students at RCA showed us over and over again made a huge impression on us all. This experience has changed me as a teacher, and that will hopefully trickle down to my students in my classroom.”
- Anissa Demonbreun
"This experience is one that has been on my bucket list since I went to Central Michigan University. I was overwhelmed by the positivity, creativity, and magic that exudes from every single person at RCA. It was exciting, mind-blowing, and truly an experience that I will never forget. I walked away feeling inspired, energized, and on fire to return to Nashville Christian School and do amazing work on behalf of all of my students!"
- Victoria Lane
"To be honest, I was not prepared for what I experienced at Ron Clark Academy. The other three teachers who were going had an idea of what to expect. Watching and listening to them as our time to enter RCA approached, I increasingly felt like a child who had found a "golden ticket" without knowing how important it was. Entering the arched gate and the doors to the school, then being greeted by a band and students who look you in the eye and genuinely make you feel welcome was heartwarming and exhilarating. Observing the deliberate interactions between dedicated faculty and engaged students made me realize that expectations for our children need to be increased. Knowing what is possible and seeing how to attain it, is inspiring. There are so many lessons I want to share from this experience. However, my hope is that all of our faculty can go and experience RCA for themselves. Nashville Christian School is a great institution of learning, but we can always work to be better. Ron Clark is an innovator in education. Many of his ideas are worth trying here."
- Jeanne Graham, 3rd Grade Teacher
On January 20th 2017, the NCS TSA took part in the Middle Tennessee Regional Conference. TSA stands for the Technology Student Association and they compete in three STEM related competitions throughout the school year. This was the 3rd year that the High School TSA team competed and placed at the Regional Conference. This year’s High School Quiz Bowl team, comprised of Kobe Word, Dominic Stephens and Maggie Shivers, placed 2nd after losing a close match in overtime. Quiz Bowl is a game show type competition where students are asked STEM related questions. The team looks to carry on their winning performance to the State Conference in April.
For the first time ever, NCS was able to take a Middle School team to compete this year. Six students competed in three events, with all three events placing and bringing home hardware. Emma Nguyen took part in Digital Photography and placed 3rd. Mikey Dubois and Cavin Phung took part in Technology Problem Solving also placed 3rd. McClure Gill, Griffin Moore and Tate Allen took part in a competition called Inventions and Innovations where teams came up with an invention or a process to help solve a problem. The team then pitches their idea to an “investor” Shark Tank style. The NCS team’s water filtration device brought home a 2nd place plaque.
The High School and Middle School teams are now preparing to compete in the State Conference in Chattanooga in April. The State Conference will offer a larger venue and more students will be competing in a larger number of events. The teams will compete in the same events as they did in Regionals plus a handful more. 15 or more students are looking to make the trip and compete in events like Flight, Video Game Design, Forensic Technology and Stem Animation.
NCS also recently purchased two brand new Vex Robotics kits for Middle School and High School. Vex is a partner with TSA and will hold a competition at the State and National conferences this year. NCS looks to take both High School and Middle School teams to compete this year.
When Nashville Christian 7th grader Kate Pearson started a book club with her friends last year, she never dreamed they'd be celebrating the launch of her first book a few months later! This adventure was all born out of the friendships Kate has at Nashville Christian School. Last year she and her friends started a 6th grade reading club and began to “crowdsource” a book together. Each would write a chapter and then email the story to the next person. Kate was having such a good time, we decided to find a summer camp for writers.
A Novel Idea (ANI) is a 30-day writing camp designed to teach kids how to write and publish their very own novels. During the summer, Kate learned new technical writing skills, gained an understanding of a novel’s framework, and organized and produced a final manuscript on a very tight deadline. The ANI program nurtured and challenged her to find her voice, conquer her “inner critic” and bring her imagination to life. As Kate put it, “writing a novel taught me that I really can do anything I put my mind to!”
Here’s a synopsis of her book, The Selected:
Identical twins Natalie and James uncover a shocking discovery at their new boarding school that will change their lives forever. While just getting settled in the new school, everybody back home gets kidnapped, and it’s up to Natalie and James to save their mom, aunt, and newborn cousins from the mysterious group called THE VOID. Alliances change, but Natalie and James can’t give up, or they’ll lose their family forever.
The Selected is now available for purchase online at this link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kate-pearson/the-selected/paperback/product-22936941.html
Congratulations Kate! We know this is the first of many books to come, and we look forward to seeing where God takes you and your talents! We are NC!
Congratulations to the accomplished students inducted into Nashville Christian School’s chapter of the National Honor Society this morning! Caroline Armstrong, Grace Curley, Nathan Gaidos, Maverick Marlin, Cassidy Moore, Emily Osborne, Abbie Page, Bryce Pemberton, and David Whelan were recognized in a special ceremony today followed by a small reception with family and friends.
The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, the NHS serves to recognize students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character.
These nine distinguished students have certainly excelled in each of these areas, and we are so proud of their hard work and example. They have worked with diligence in the classroom, and served their school and community with passion and distinction.
We are proud of you!
Nashville Christian School second graders recently studied Helen Keller and her contribution to education. They read stories and books about her and watched movies about her life and how she was able to communicate as a deaf and blind woman. Students researched her teacher, Annie Sullivan, and the impact that both of them had on history for the blind and deaf community. They also studied Braille, learning how and why it is used.
Their final activity was to have a sign-language interpreter come into their classroom and teach them sign language. They learned the alphabet in order to know how to "say" their names and learned important words like Mom, Dad, Christmas, and Jesus. While Mrs. Cooper read the book The Three Little Pigs, the students watched the interpreter as she signed the words.
Overall, the experience was exciting for the students and opened up many conversations about what others are capable of with disabilities and differences.
This fall was full of fun for Nashville Christian School students. Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade visited Honeysuckle Hill Farm where they took a hayride, picked a pumpkin, visited a petting farm, jumped on some giant jumping pillows, and even learned to milk a cow!
3rd Grade had an awesome time at Kentucky Down Under – a park full of Australian animals! Students got to feed a baby kangaroo, and saw emus and a giant tortoise just to name a few. Some lucky 3rd graders got to feed and pet an Australian mountain cavy who was rather shy and skittish. Another highlight was visiting Mammoth Cave.
4th and 5th Graders had an amazing time at Discovery Park of America - a world-class entertainment and educational experience with more than 70,000 square feet of exhibits focused on nature, science, technology, history, and art. Students also enjoyed beautiful weather while exploring the 50 acres of gardens, grounds and exhibits focused on history.
Middle school students made a service field trip this month. They filled 2000 backpacks with 7000+ meals (8799 lbs. of food) at Second Harvest and packed supplies at the Disaster Relief Center for hurricane relief.
Freshmen and sophomores went to TPAC to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet, while seniors spent a day job shadowing with surgeons, teachers, airline pilots, business professionals, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and so much more!
From Kindergarten through 12th Grade, Nashville Christian is a fun place to learn, offering many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. When you start at Nashville Christian School, you can go anywhere, and these talented students are certainly going to go far!
Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd have been learning about community helpers. This month they met a police officer with a drug dog named Dome, got a visit from some local fire fighters, and even got to see what the Metro Police Bomb Squad does! To finish off their week of learning about community helpers, our kindergarteners dressed as what they want to be when they grow up! Here are some photos from the week:
We recently had the special opportunity to honor teacher Marsha Forehand as she moves into retirement. Mrs. Forehand was so loved by generations of students at NCS for her kind heart, gentle spirit, and love for the Lord. Mrs. Forehand taught at NCS from 1995 - 2016. She served in several capacities including teaching PreKindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and Leadership/Bible. She impacted children with her passion for reading and the Lord. Her classroom was covered in "stuffed lambs" given to her by years of NCS students because of her commitment to teach them about the "Lamb of God." Here’s what some of our staff and students had to say about Mrs. Marsha Forehand.
"There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others. And that’s exactly what Mrs. Forehand does." – Robbie Lewis (Administrative Assistant)
"Mrs. Forehand always has a servant’s heart. She demonstrates the love of Christ in all that she does. Anytime I think of someone as being most Christ-like, I immediately think of her." - Anissa Demonbreun (5th Grade Teacher)
"Mrs. Forehand has such a caring heart. She always wanted to know about what was going on in my life." – Makenna Paszek (11th Grade)
"Ms. Forehand was extremely encouraging and welcoming when I came back to NCS to work. Her frequently written notes always reminded me to go to God first with all things. Ms. Forehand showed love and care with my Kindergartener, and we will never forget the impact she had on our family's beginning at Nashville Christian School." - Lauren Brasel (Elementary Principal)
"Our family is so grateful for the years of devotion she gave to the students and families. She has a unique ability to find in students a way of encouraging each child to feel good about themselves. I will always be grateful for her encouraging spirit." – Martha Faust (LIFE Teacher)
"Marsha Forehand was one of the first teachers I met when I started teaching at NCS. She referred to us as "the Senior Saints." I miss stopping by her room to see her in the mornings.. She is extremely quick-witted and funny." – Fran Sexton (Elementary Art Teacher)
"Mrs. Forehand was a very kind teacher. Even though i was in 2nd grade, I still remember some of the things she taught me. She was one of the only teachers I’ve ever had to apply life lessons in school almost every day. She acted in a Christ-like manner that's for sure no matter what. Mrs. Forehand was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, and I will never forget about her." – Zach Hamilton (12th Grade)
"Mrs. Forehand was my second grade teacher, and I couldn't have been more thankful for her. While she might've been my teacher in second grade, she still makes appearances in my life today as a Senior. I randomly see her out and about, or just around NCS, and Mrs.Forehand gives me a hug, asks how I'm doing, or simply just says hi and tells me that she misses me. I'm so thankful that Mrs.Forehand has been in my life since second grade!!" – Brittan Jarrell (12th Grade)
"Marsha Forehand is one of the most thoughtful people that I have had the pleasure to know. She has spent the last twenty-one years serving our students and modeling Christ. I had the amazing opportunity to honor her in elementary chapel this past Wednesday. We celebrated Ms. Forehand for her unwavering example of seeking God first, speaking faithfully, and expressing humility in all things. I am grateful for her commitment to Nashville Christian, and I know that our children loved celebrating her! – Connie Jo Shelton
In kindergarten we spent a week learning about things that you would find on a farm. We learned about animals, foods, people, and machines that you might discover. We talked about how animals provide food and clothing. The boys and girls loved matching baby animals to adult animals and talking about what each was called. Later in the week, we talked about milk and all the different things we make from milk in preparation for them to make their very own butter. To finish up farm week we used heavy cream, a little salt, a mason jar and a whole lot of shaking to make butter for a special snack of toast and jelly. We loved eating the sweet creamy butter and talking about all the things we learned about farms!
The 2nd graders have been studying life cycles and for three weeks, they observed the many stages of development of butterflies. They came as 1 cm long, thin black or brown larva. They ate and ate and ate until they grew to about 3 cm and became much thicker caterpillars. When they were ready to move into the pupa stage, they crawled to the top of their cups and attached to the lid with their bodies in a J shape. Once they formed the chrysalises, Mrs. Graham transferred the chrysalises from the cups to a net enclosure.
Each second grader had a couple of butterflies they were responsible for and they gave them names like Spikey and Dillen. As the class patiently waited for the butterflies to emerge, they talked about the metamorphosis the creatures were experiencing inside. The focus of their study was life cycles, but they also learned a lot about God's power to change us too.
Once the beautiful butterflies emerged, they class used a writing assignment to compose goodbye letters which they read at the release party. Each student read their letter and then received a lollypop to help move the butterflies from the safety of their net enclosure to the outside world. It was so exciting to see the butterflies they had studied for so long finally take flight!
As a continuation of their study, the class now has tadpoles that have developed tiny legs and will soon become frogs!
In 1st grade we learn all about Tennessee. We identify the Mayor and Governor, and explain their roles in government. We learn about rules and voting for laws on a state level. Through geography, we identify the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee, and how they represent the stars on our state's flag. Then students are taught to identify where Nashville is on the map.
Each year I enjoy taking my class to see firsthand where these important politicians work and where they meet and vote for laws that help us. This year, the Secretary of State Tre Hargett spoke with us for a few minutes as our tour began. We got to walk through the Governor’s office and see the beautiful paintings. Upstairs in the Capitol we met Representative Mitchell. Representative Mitchell gave each student a Tennessee Blue Book, and to our class he gave a Tennessee flag and American flag! He then asked Senator Dickerson to come out and speak with the students and take a picture. Both men kindly took time to speak with my students and answer their questions. The students all were intrigued to find out William Strickland and Samuel Morgan are both buried in the north wall and south wall of the Capitol. As we were leaving, Governor Haslam was also heading down the outside stairs and waved at our class!
Both 1st grade students and parents had a terrific time listening and learning about our state’s history. I love that at such an early age these 1st graders can begin to learn about their state and walk the halls where history is made.
It started in October, anti-bullying month, but our elementary students have decided to focus on kindness all year long. Kindness Counts is a not-for-profit organization that “uses creative and unconventional approaches to inspire active kindness.” Our elementary students have come up with some creative ways to actively show kindness to others. In October, Pre-K through fifth grade students had a weekly focus for kindness including a “secret friend,” doing something special for school personnel, and service projects. For their “secret friends” students did kind things for a classmate without seeking recognition. Some students were recognized for exemplary kindness with a kindness award at the end of the month.
For the month of November, students wrote special things about each other and posted it on the wall. Currently, we have a giant kindness tree hanging in the Elementary school hallway. Each grade wrote kind words on hearts that now hang on the tree. There are quotes, scripture, and examples of how each of them have shown kindness. There is an envelope of blank hearts next to the tree so that people can continue to add kind and encouraging words.
This April, our monthly guidance theme is based on the book "Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?" It is all about filling each other's “buckets” with all sorts of things: love, kindness, caring, etc. It also teaches kids about being a bucket filler not a bucket dipper (taking away from other people's buckets). We have a special surprise activity scheduled for the month of April to really nail down this concept.
We are so proud of our students and all the kindness they have shown one another. Come and see our Kindness Counts tree in the elementary hallway, and you can’t help but be uplifted by all the encouraging words shared there! Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32