The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ Board of Education approved the LEAD Academy charter renewal application on Tuesday night, which means LEAD Academy will continue providing a high-quality, equitable college-preparatory education for students over the next decade.
“Thank you to the Board of Education and to Dr. (Shawn) Joseph and his leadership team for its support of our renewal,” said CEO Chris Reynolds. “It is a true honor to work alongside our families in order to ensure our students leave LEAD Academy, and all of our schools, prepared and ready for the next chapter of their lives, especially college. We appreciate the district’s continued partnership and we look forward to providing a successful education for hundreds of future graduates over the next 10 years.”
LEAD submitted the renewal application last summer and was notified on Jan. 4 that the Board would consider the application during this evening’s meeting. Just two weeks ago, the Board heard from several LEAD supporters during the public comment portion of its meeting, including LEAD Academy sophomore Chandler Davis.
“LEAD Academy is a place where you are encouraged to be yourself, have an opinion and ultimately create a road map for your future,” she said before a packed Board room. “The people that you see everyday truly want you to succeed. The connections and relationships established here will last you a lifetime. Over the last 10 years, LEAD Academy has proven that no matter what background you come from, you can be someone and do whatever you want that you put your mind to.
“My school and my family have given me the confidence to say that I will graduate as a member of the Class of 2019,” she said, “and not everyone can say that. I am asking for your support and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Chandler was joined on the 10th by classmate Dierra Swanson ’17 and alumni Brandon Oglesby-Swett ’16, now a freshman at Hendrix College in Arkansas, as well as LEAD parents, both past and present, like Theresa Smith, mother of a sophomore, Sandra Hill, mother of two alumni and, Janet Rodriguez, whose twins attend LAHS.
“I started LEAD when I was 12 years old,” Dierra said. “Since then, I can say that LEAD is a family-based school. Our students have a lot of support and connections with our teachers. From personal experience, I can honestly say that LEAD has helped me along the way from the beginning to the end.”
Brandon said he wasn’t sure of what direction he would go as a high school student, but that LEAD Academy pushed him.
“I think LEAD is an extremely wonderful place,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to go to college because I wasn’t sure of my direction and how I was going to go about it. I wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for LEAD and my teachers having an impact on me. They do it for every single student. They make sure every single student is personally tailored to a four-year college and that their needs are met.”
One after the other, Theresa, Sandra and Janet addressed the Board.
“It’s a huge family,” Sandra Hill said. “(My children) would never have had an opportunity to have the experience they had at LEAD. From the teachers to the staff in the office, I have trusted my children at the school and they have grown into very strong, independent college students. What they have learned at LEAD Academy is far beyond what I could have ever dreamed that they could learn at a school.”
Theresa Smith agreed.
“The seeds, the confidence and the tools the teachers … have instilled in my son and his fellow students are incredible,” she said. “It’s just amazing, this school. The students are proof that this program and its teachers have changed lives for the better, especially our families.”
“I saw LEAD and I saw a great opportunity and I took it,” Janet said with her daughter translating for her at the podium. “My two kids have gone there and has been a great experience. LEAD is 100 percent behind its students. If the parents have a different culture and language, they make us feel included. I have a dream of a great future for my kids. And LEAD works and helps.”