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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!
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.
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.
The fourth and fifth grade classes experienced the annual School in the Wild outdoor classroom trip to Columbia, Tennessee on April 25th - 27th. While there, the students hiked, ziplined, heard scary stories, learned about GPS and forensics, and played the traditional fourth grade vs. fifth grade kickball game. They even got their teachers to eat some tasty chocolate covered crickets! It was a trip the students will truly remember. Here's what some of them had to say about these exciting adventures:
"I had a lot of fun at School in the Wild. We learned about the different groups of water creatures that live in the creek. The different types of energy while zip-lining. Zip-lining was my favorite class. Team building was fun, but required a lot of concentration and trust! I enjoyed being there with my friends." - Jane Claire Gill, 5th grade
"It was the best time ever!" - Emma Jarosemich, 5th grade
"My time at School in the Wild was awesome! We went on a biplane and it was so fun. We had a kickball game, and we won!" - Aidan Vo, 5th grade
"School in the Wild was so much fun! We learned about water. We did zip-lining. We met a bunch of animals (so cute)!" - Addy McWright, 5th grade
"It was AWESOME!" - Luke Adams, 5th grade
"My experience at School in the Wild was just as awesome as last year." - Cameron Tiller, 5th grade
“I love School in the Wild because we get to hang out with friends for 3 days!” - Conner Sisemore, 4th grade
“I love School in the Wild because we go zip lining! I was really, really scared but my friends were cheering for me, so I knew I could do it!” - Ethan Porter, 4th grade
“I’m glad we get to go to School in the Wild because it’s a great opportunity to try new things!” - MaKenzie Bledsoe, 4th grade
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.
We had a successful two weeks of fundraising for the American Heart Association with Jump Rope for Heart! We demolished our original goal of $2,000. Our final count is over $8,000!!! I am so proud of each of our elementary Eagle students for exceeding our goal!
Jordan Thompson was our top fundraiser for the entire elementary school! She raised $1,000 for the American Heart Association. She received a special prize of a jar full of candy and got to pick the PE activity for her class! Great Job Jordan!
Each grade level class had competitions to see who could raise the most and have the most students register. Our Kindergarten Eagles alone raised over $2,000!!! Super proud of them! Thank you so much to everyone who donated to a great cause!
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
When Nashville Christian PE teacher and soccer coach Sarah Bedell heard the Harlem Globetrotters were coming to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, she immediately got to work on getting them to visit Nashville Christian School too.
“I got the idea for the Globetrotters when I showed my K-2nd graders a promo video for them when I was teaching them the skill of basketball. I looked online to see if they were coming to town during the week so I could make a field trip out of it. When I saw that it was a weekend game, I researched how we could bring them to NCS. I was contacted by the Globetrotters and was told about the Bullying Prevention Program they do for schools. All we had to do was sell tickets for their game,” said Coach Bedell.
A deal was struck that if our families purchased $1000 in tickets for the show at Bridgestone, they would come visit our school. Our families rose to the occasion (as usual) and purchased more that $2000 worth of tickets!
On Monday, January 22nd, Globetrotters Swish Young and “El Gato” Melendez came to speak to all of our elementary and middle school students about bullying. They shared what they call the ABCs of bullying prevention: Action, Bravery, and Compassion. They kept students engaged by asking for volunteers and several students got to learn a few new tricks.
To learn more about the Harlem Globetrotters’ ABCs of Bullying Prevention, go to http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/community/abcs-bullying-prevention.
The Praise and Thanksgiving service was once again a special time for the Nashville Christian family to worship and share a meal together.
After a short morning of classes, students, parents, staff and friends dropped off their delicious dishes and gathered in the gym for a special program. The first graders were dressed in their newly-designed handprint turkey shirts for their reading of Psalm 100. We also enjoyed performances by the NCS Entertainers and the Middle School Chorus.
Our special speaker this year was a new Nashville Christian parent, Dennis Ferrier. Mr. Ferrier is a reporter with Nashville’s Fox 17 and has won multiple prestigious awards for his investigative work. He told us the story of Black Hawk pilot, Michael Durant, and his hero, Gary Gordon. Gary Gordon knew from the age of 10 that he wanted to be a military hero and set out to research how to do it. Mr. Ferrier encouraged everyone, even the very youngest Eagles, to make their own mission statement and to ask for guidance and help from the Lord as we set about serving Him.
After some final words and a prayer, everyone headed for the tables full of Thanksgiving favorites – turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and so much more. Following the feast, the leftovers were packed up by a group of students and staff and taken to the homeless. It was a wonderful day of reflecting, expressing thanks and serving others. Here are some photos from the day:
In an attempt to motivate our students in kindergarten through fifth grade, I (Lauren Brasel, Elementary Principal) offered the students a reward they would surely remember. We set the goal for our Entertainment Book and Smart Card fundraiser at 500 items. The deal was if the students sold 500 items then I would sleep on the roof of the NCS Lower School Building. Boy were the students motivated! They surpassed the goal and raised over $4,000 dollars for the additions to the playground. UH OH! It was time for me to follow through with my end of the bargain.
Weeks went by. Nights were too hot, too rainy, or too fall breaky. Finally, the perfect night arrived after fall break. The warmest night that week was 47 degrees but I knew I was running out of time before the temperature dropped too much.
On the chilly evening of Thursday, October 19th, after eating with my family at Chili's, my family and I went to prepare the site. My husband raised the ladder. The tent went up. All of the blankets, pillows, fuzzy boots, snowsuit, and obviously a craft project (I had to make the most of my time on the roof) went up to the roof, and then l finally climbed the ladder.
Visitors and callers with great concern checked on me as I enjoyed the view from my tent of the football stadium and the kitchen exhaust. With lots of camping experience, I was able to power through the night. I learned that the Eagle Campus is very quiet on a Thursday night, until...the Dumpster Man comes to empty the nearby dumpster at 2:30am. What a fright!
After sleeping in on Friday morning, I awoke atop the Lower School and was ready to clear the playground balls from the roof and greet the students. Mrs. Shelton brought a much needed warm-up via Starbucks at 7:00am. The students were astonished as they arrived to school as it was unexpected to see their principal on the roof, with a cup of coffee, in her robe waving. After the bell rang, all of the elementary students assembled outside for the announcements. First graders lead the Elementary Eagles in the pledges and prayer (and everyone had a good chuckle about Mrs. Brasel participating from the roof). After a brief discussion of whether or not they believed I actually slept on the roof, the tent came down, the blankets, boots, and snow suit came down, and finally I came down the ladder.
It was a fun experience, and I would do it all over again for the kids! Thank you to everyone who participated in the fundraiser and for your commitment to Nashville Christian School.
Earlier this week on the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” the creator of Qball got three sharks to invest in his innovative classroom invention, but Mrs. Greenlee’s 4th grade class has already been enjoying their Qball since August!
Qball is a soft, ball-shaped, wireless microphone that can be connected to any sound system to make communicating in the classroom simple and fun.
Students and teachers simply toss the Qball to each other and speak into it to allow everyone to hear clearly and engage in classroom discussion. Mrs. Greenlee’s class uses it for discussion, review, and overall instruction, and she loves that it allows movement to engage kinesthetic learners and amplifies sound for auditory learners.
“I love that I have yet ANOTHER reason to do something non-traditional in my classroom! Having the Qball allows me to engage those otherwise “quiet” students, but also meet the needs of those that need to move while they learn,” said Mrs. Greenlee.
Though it was originally designed for the classroom, the sharks are hoping to apply the Qball to corporate settings as well.
Teachers at Nashville Christian are always looking for new ways to teach students at all learning levels and to create an atmosphere where learning is fun! Click below to see Mrs. Greenlee’s class using Qball to practice multiplication tables.
Building gumdrop bridges was the highlight of the week for 3rd grade. The challenge presented to each group was to build a bridge using only 50 gumdrops and 100 toothpicks that would hold 300 grams (120 pennies) of mass without falling through the six-inch gap it had to span.
Designing, building, testing and rebuilding with a peer group chosen by the teacher was also part of the challenge as I, the teacher, had the intention of the students building relationships with those outside their normal peer group.
We tested our bridges first over the gap. Then we added 50 pennies on a paper plate for 20 seconds. All five bridges were able to make it through the first round. The next round of testing was 100 pennies for up to 20 seconds. All the bridges held the 100 pennies, but two of the bridges lasted less than 5 seconds with that weight. For the final round, we added the extra 20 pennies to make the mass 300 grams. Clearly this mass was too much for one of our designs. It crumbled under the pressure. Of the two remaining bridges, the obvious winning design was able to hold the mass for one minute and could have lasted longer, but that was long enough to prove its strength and win the challenge!
Making group posters to document the process is on our agenda for this week.
This past weekend, NCS elementary, middle and high school fine arts students performed in the One Act Weekend featuring Alice in Wonderland Jr. and Schoolhouse Rock Live! The middle school performance of Alice in Wonderland Jr. was directed by one of our very own students, junior Anna Jones.
Anna has performed in many shows at NCS, including Lion King Jr.(Rafiki), Into the Woods(Little Red), Guys and Dolls(General Cartwright), and James and the Giant Peach Jr.(Earthworm). This was her first time acting as student director of an NCS performance. We recently interviewed Anna about the experience and here is what she had to say.
Why did you decide to take the role of director for Alice in Wonderland Jr.?
I have always wanted to be in the staged version of Alice in Wonderland and when I heard the middle school was doing it, I knew that I have to be involved somehow. I applied for a position on the team by writing an essay, and here we are.
How is directing different from acting in a show?
It is completely different from acting. Directing is super hard. There are so many things that the director has to do that I didn’t even expect. I have learned so much from directing this show that will actually help in acting.
What has been your biggest challenge in directing this show?
Probably being able to communicate my vision for the show to little kids. When you are imagining something for a scene and you want it done, it becomes challenging trying to get kids to do it right.
You are directing students from elementary and middle school. Tell me about your experience with the cast.
It has been amazing. They all have so much energy that has been fun channeling into their passion for theater. The middle schoolers have been such good influences on the elementary students as well.
What should audiences know about this show before coming to see it?
That I just wanted the kids to have fun during this show. Above anything else, I wanted this to be a fun and positive environment for these kids.
Is there an underlying message or thought you want audiences to take away from this show?
The big question in this show is “whooo areee youuuu?” Alice goes through wonderland and changes a lot and however much she changes, she always finds out that somebody doesn't like her, and she doesn't quite fit in. Through the show she learns who she is. I want audiences to think about that question throughout the show and find out what it means to them.
What are your hopes for the future of NCS theater?
I really hope that we keep growing and blossoming like we have these past two years. I really want people to keep joining the theater program and experiencing what's it like to be in the middle of it.
If you missed the performance, you can watch it here!
This fall’s Wild West Book Fair was another great success! The kids had a great time dressing up all week. From Team Day where they wore gear supporting their favorite teams, to Crazy Sock Day, and of course Western Wednesday. Coming to school as a book character was one of their favorites. The elementary teachers even got together and dressed as the crayons from The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt. Here is what NCS librarian Julie Shaver had to say about Book Week:
“Last spring I thanked you for making the book fair our most successful to date; however, that has changed. Thanks to you, we set a new record by selling over $6500 at the Wild West Book Fair!!! As a result, our library is able to get more than $3500 worth of books!! I am truly overwhelmed by your support and generosity! I would also like to send a special thank you to my volunteers for all of your hard work; I absolutely could not do this without you! Blessings and happy reading!”
Over the summer, rising third graders were tasked with performing a service project and sharing what they did with their new classmates. Here are their personal summaries of what they did to serve.
Avery: I helped my Mimi water the plants. I pick up trash when I see it. I give school supplies to people.
Brody: I donated money to the poor.
Matthew: I took care of Pudin because she doesn't have a friend. (Pudin is his guinea pig.)
Maddie: I took cookies to my local firemen.
Jace: I planted to help my neighbor.
Ellie: I helped my community by giving sandwiches to the homeless.
Ashton: I helped animals find homes. I also helped people put food in their cars.
Caitlin: I made blankets for homeless people.
Isy: I went to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to take toys I bought with my kindness dollars.
Trinity: I made blankets for cats and dogs in need.
Sydnie: I am going to the Humane Society to help.
Austin: I helped my grandad plant cucumbers.
Baker: I helped a homeless veteran by giving him a survival kit.
Bolton: We moved this summer and I helped my mom and dad unload boxes.
Joseph: I helped people that need food by collecting 61 cans of beans for the Food Bank.
Elijah: I helped baby animals that were hurt.
Allie: I want to help animals and poor people.
Olive: I helped my neighbor pick her cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.
AJ: I helped my grandmother by painting and moving her into a new home.
Isaiah: I gave money to the poor.
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.
February 27th through March 23rd was Spiritual Emphasis Week at Nashville Christian School. Elementary students used a theme of SOAR (Seek God, Obey Him, Attitude of Service, Respond to Him). They kicked off the week with a program from SOAR South, an organization who educates about birds of prey by sharing the birds they have rescued and worked to rehabilitate. The students learned about the different attributes the birds were created with that make them unique and able to thrive in the wild.
Throughout the week, middle school and high school Bible classes taught Bible lessons and prepared skits to share with elementary classes. Students also wrote prayer requests and praises on cards posted in the commons area in the high school and in the main hallway of the middle school. Several classes also be made cards to take to a local nursing home.
We had a week filled will special speakers for all students. High school students enjoyed a special chapel with Christian magician Steve Bargatze who shared his magic along with his powerful testimony in one of our most moving chapels to date.
At the end of the week everyone enjoyed a whole-school chapel lead by Jimmy Hampton. Mr. Hampton is a former NCS campus minister. He taught on walking with Jesus and keeping Him as your companion through times of challenge and times of victory.
On Friday afternoon, high school students left for the Spring Spiritual Retreat. The theme of the retreat was “There Is No BC.” Students were encouraged to look at the Bible in a new light, seeing it as one story that is all about God’s redemptive plan through Jesus. There was also time for fun and relaxation with an intense game of Family Feud, a skit competition, and a few brave souls who zip-lined into the icy cold waters of the lake. Here’s what some of them had to say about the retreat:
“The retreat was very fun. I was a big fan of the food. I really enjoyed the amount of free time we got, and I felt the reflection on the last day brought everyone that went a little closer together. I had a really great time and look forward to going next year.” – Kayli Mothershed
I thought the retreat was enlightening. I was happy with how many people opened up in the end and talked out loud to the group. Finally I loved how much more we worshipped God when we were there.” – Charlie White
“My favorite part of the retreat was when Coach Kayce led the singing in the worship part. Also, on the last day when all the seniors got up and spoke was both moving and inspiring.” – Kylee Boen
“The retreat this year was really fun. I think this year we had a more tight-knit group, and it was all around a great time. The message throughout the whole week was really good because I had never thought of the Bible in that way. I really enjoyed the quiet time and how Mrs. Robinson came up with the whole activity we did. I also really enjoyed doing the skits and getting to impersonate the teachers. I also loved getting to play handball with Coach Brothers and Coach McClary and getting to play cards during free time with them and Mr. Morrison. I just loved getting to hang with them and stuff.” – Bobby Clark
“I went on the retreat, and I had a great time. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with friends and with God. My favorite part was the alone time we got to have after each devotional message, it really helped me think about what we had just learned.” – Warren Hanson
Overall it was a great week for spiritual growth at Nashville Christian School! Here are some additional photos from Spiritual Emphasis Week for you to enjoy!
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
The Christmas season at Nashville Christian School has been full of festivities. Students have been seen from preschool through the 12th grade wearing Christmas pajamas, giving gifts, eating cookies, singing carols, and taking pictures with Santa Claus! But more importantly, our students have remembered the true meaning of Christmas by serving others.
Elementary students have collected Change for Children to be donated to Timothy Hill Ranch to buy presents for at-risk children. They also filled boxes with goodies for Hope for Haiti, collected can tabs for The Ronald McDonald House, collected donations for Children and Adolescents at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health Hospital, and sang Christmas carols to residents at The Meadows retirement home. Middle school students led the charge to provide Christmas stockings for the 200 Angels on the ARK Angel Tree in Pegram, TN.
High school students were rewarded with milk and cookies, dress up days and photos with Santa during morning break for bringing in their Toys for Tots. Class officer Katie Cain said, “I think it went really well! When I went to deliver the toys to a Toys For Tots receiver, they had nothing so far. So it was so nice to see that we were not only helping the kids but helping them. I think it got everyone in the spirit, and everyone loved break.”
It gives us great joy to see our students growing spiritually, evidenced by their heart to serve others during a time when many are thinking of what they want for themselves. We are so grateful for the Nashville Christian family and we wish you a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year!
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.
Nashville Christian elementary students gave another stellar performance – this time with Peter Pan Jr.! “It's been a fun challenge to work with so many young people in this show. Our team finds it a blessing to build students up with ‘faith, trust and pixie dust,’ so that they may follow their dreams and ‘fly,’ said Director Nicole Arnold.
This talented group of kindergarten through 5th graders enchanted audiences with their voices, dancing, and pure fun. Fifth grader Taylor Dahl nailed the role of Peter Pan, capturing his mischievous and playful spirit. She crowed like only a true Peter Pan could do.
Megan Parker was pure sweetness as Wendy Darling with a motherly fondness of her siblings, the lost boys, and the indians.
The rest of the Darling family included the adorable brothers John (Jacob Ellis) and Michael (Finn Shaver) and their parents. Zoja King played the doting Mrs. Darling while Wyatt Martin did double duty as both the grouchy and stern Mr. Darling as well as Peter’s archenemy, the villainous yet bumbling Captain Hook.
Essential to the adventure was Tinkerbell, played by Caleigh Posovac, who had just the right balance of charm and sass on stage as the devoted sidekick.
The bright and colorful costumes highlighted the incredible rotating set created by Josh and Kayce Green that turned from the darling nursery into a pirate ship, into the Indians lair.
The talented cast performed for a full house in their final show on Sunday afternoon, and we wanted to share with you some bits from the show as well as some great behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast!
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:
Jason Tucker has been all over campus taking school pictures, but he doesn't only enjoy taking pictures of people, he also has a passion for marine biology. Jason did a fantastic job in sharing with our 5th graders what it is like in the underwater ecosystem. On Thursday, September 29th, he showed the 5th graders several sea creatures that he has encountered on his many diving excursions. He also shared with us the design of the scuba gear and cameras that he uses. 5th graders have been learning how the design process takes place. We greatly appreciate Jason taking the time to visit with us!
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!
As we wrapped up our lesson on Creation, Kindergarten,1st and 2nd grade collaborated to celebrate God’s creations! We sang songs, prayed and mixed a spiritual trail mix. Each part of the trail mix represented a day during creation:
Oreos - light and dark
Frosted shredded wheat - land and clouds
Pretzel sticks - nature and the trees
Goldfish - fish in the sea
Animal crackers - animals
M&Ms - the colors and the flowers
Yellow M&Ms - sun, moon and stars
Marshmallows - everything else in God's creation
Here are some picture from our lesson!
This year the Elementary Eagles are participating in Small Groups twice a month during the designated Chapel time. From PreK to Fifth grades, the students have been divided into groups of around 12 students. Each teacher hosts the same group each time to foster relationships across grade levels. Today was our first meeting to get to know one another and it has already proven to be a great exercise in leadership for the fifth grade students. They are each paired with a PreK buddy to help during group time. The teachers have preplanned lessons that involve a hands-on activity or demonstration for the group to participate in that aligns with a lesson from the Bible. The groups will share their prayer requests, pray together, and get to know one another.
Doing small groups will be a way to build leadership, develop strong bonds with schoolmates, create a better sense of community, and teachers can build rapport with students in other classes. We are so excited for this new opportunity for our Elementary NCS family to grow spiritually!
The school year kicked off on August 10th with lots of smiles, hugs, laughter and fun. Kindergarten parents were invited to visit at the Boo Hoo Breakfast before leaving their babies to start the year. First graders toured the school and made a map while the “Sorting Hat” sorted middle schoolers into their class houses. Seniors came to the first day of school wearing decorated crowns and looking ready to rule the school! Here are some photos from around campus on our first day of school.
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
Today is National Read Across America Day! In celebration, our first graders are enjoying a lineup of more than 34 readers over the next week including Nashville Christian teachers, administrators, staff, coaches, fellow students, Mrs. McWright’s middle school class, and parents. Yesterday they had Emmy Award winning meteorologist Lelan Statom from News Channel 5 read his favorite Dr. Suess book to the class. (Look for a shoutout on tomorrow morning’s news around 6:15am!)
The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, Read Across America. Now in its 19th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.
Our first graders love reading and have really enjoyed all of their special visitors. Thanks to everyone who has shared their favorite stories with our students and promoted a love of reading!
We use technology to gather information on a daily basis. Gone are the days of phone books or doing everything you can to stay up for the 10:00pm news. We have a world of information at our fingertips.
At NCS, we are blessed to have this same wonderful technology in our classroom. So just like adults use it to gather information, we too, as students and teachers, can do the same thing. In 4th grade, we have traveled throughout the US in our first six weeks of school, without ever leaving the four walls of our classroom. With the help of a computer and Promethean board, the 4th graders have Skyped with classes all over the US! We participate in a new game called “Mystery Skype”. In this game, the object is to be the first class to guess the location of the class you are Skyping with by asking/answering only “yes” or “no” questions. Think about the old game of “20 Questions” and you’ll get the idea. As the teacher, I contact teachers throughout the US and ask them to play. We set up a time that is good for both of our schedules and then we Skype one another. The students use maps and previous knowledge of US geography to narrow down the location of the other school. The first school to correctly identify the location of its opponent wins! Once the winner has been established, time is taken to teach one another about your school. The students are not only gathering information about US geography, but also learning about kids around the US and that not all schools are like NCS. You can imagine the looks on their faces when we recently Skyped with an all boys school! Once we have finished our game and have signed off from Skype, we gather around our large classroom map and label the state with a “win” or “loss”, along with the name of the class and school, as well as the city, that we Skyped with. Our goal is to try and Skype with as many of the 50 states that we possibly can this year!
We have also used technology to take “virtual field trips”. Just recently, my parents took a trip out west. When they arrived at Mount Rushmore, we were able to Facetime with them. We saw the monument itself, as well as, the park around it. They were able to give us facts that kids would be interested in and even took the time to answer questions that the kids had.
It’s so exciting to get out of a textbook and let the kids experience learning on a different level. I’m excited about all of the adventures that await us this year!