LEAD Public Schools: Chartering restart work in Music City

This blog is part of a series that highlights the work of our partners.
“We’re not doing anything magical, we’re just doing the hard work.” –Chris Reynolds, CEO, LEAD Public Schools

The mission of LEAD Public Schools is to support, educate and train the next generation of responsible citizens. Helping them realize their potential takes good, hard work on the part of the school, the teachers and the students. And it must be done with fidelity.

LEAD Public Schools is Nashville’s first-ever non-profit charter management organization and was founded in 2007. It is also the first charter management organization in the state of Tennessee to operate a turnaround school in partnership with a local school district – in this case, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) – and has grown to nearly 2,000 students across Nashville.  LEAD’s original focus was successfully starting new schools in the area; they then shifted and took on the call of restarting the lowest performing schools in the city.  They are committed to serving some of Nashville’s most deserving neighborhoods. Their restart work, based in partnership with the Achievement School District (ASD) and MNPS, is a commitment to schools that have scored in the bottom five percent of performance on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, the state standardized test students take each year.

Helping them realize their potential takes good, hard work on the part of the school, the teachers and the students.

Partnership matters

LEAD’s partnerships with students, parents, families and the community is the backbone of everything they do. Their students don’t just take the bus, attend class and go home at the end of the day.  LEAD is committed to creating environments where relationships and learning go hand in hand and a school is a community space. The organization works directly with communities to present viable skillsets, lessons and experiences that will best prepare them for college opportunities down the road.

And they’ve seen success:

  • LEAD Academy has graduated 100 percent of its first two senior classes in 2014 and 2015 and all of our graduates were accepted into college – many of whom were the first generation of their families to attain such a feat. Senior-signing day and the graduation ceremony are true LEAD hallmarks, of which they are incredibly proud.
  • LEAD recently announced that three of our schools, LEAD Academy Middle, LEAD Academy High, and LEAD Southeast, were named Reward Schools for growth (top 5% of all schools) by the Tennessee Department of Education earlier this month. A fourth Reward School, Cameron College Prep, earned that designation in 2013-2014. That type of effort by students and fidelity to the mission are but two reasons they see such success.
  • LEAD Academy Middle School had a terrific year, showing major improvement in TCAP scores and was one of the top performing schools in Nashville in terms of growth as one of our four schools earning a Level 5 ranking.
  • LEAD Prep Southeast continues to impress as a Level 5 TVAAS school and proficiency levels exceed the state in math and science, with math scores being among the highest in the entire district. The small group instruction occurring at this school is exceptional and they over enrolled yet again.
  • The transformation at Cameron College Prep, the state’s first-ever turnaround school, continues to be a tremendous success with strong growth, Level 5 TVAAS scores yet again, and TCAP proficiency rates much higher than they were when we began the transformation process.

What’s next?

Neither the results, nor the work, are easy. But the commitment is. When LEAD looks to its mission, they look to the very foundation on which the network was founded: they will do whatever they can to ensure that every student in their network is prepared and ready for both college, and life.


Other blogs in this series:

Education Cities: Redefining what’s possible in education

Marathon Kids: Scaling nationally so more kids can go the distance