Relay Graduate School of Education today announced that it will open a new campus in Nashville, Tennessee. Relay Nashville will be Relay’s ninth campus in the country and its second in Tennessee, following the launch of Relay Memphis in spring 2015. Relay is excited to build on the momentum gained during its first year in Tennessee and to help meet the urgent need for more teachers in high-needs schools in Nashville.
“Tennessee is emerging as a national leader in education innovation, and we are eager for Relay’s launch in Nashville to prepare more teachers to lead this important work,” said Sara Heyburn, executive director of the Tennessee State Board of Education.
Relay Nashville will launch two programs. The Relay Teaching Residency provides a gradual on-ramp to a career in teaching, where residents teach under the guidance of an experienced teacher in their first year and become full-time teachers in the second year of the program. The Relay Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) is a graduate degree program focused on practical and innovative techniques that make the deepest impact in classrooms. The first class of an estimated 50 Nashville teachers will join a community of 14 Nashville principals who have participated in Relay’s National Principals Academy Fellowship since 2013.
“We are excited to help bring this best-in-class teacher preparation program to Nashville,” said Karl Dean, former mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and current board chair of Project Renaissance, a local education advocacy organization that supports efforts to train and retain new high-quality teachers. “We believe Relay’s meticulous approach to teacher development and a demonstrated commitment to building a diverse teacher core will provide a new and important pipeline of talent for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.”
The Relay teacher preparation model is noted for preparing diverse candidates, including top college graduates, experienced professionals, and local aspiring educators, to work effectively in low-income communities. In fact, 87 percent of the educators in the first Memphis cohort are teachers of color. Relay-trained teachers produced 1.4 years of reading growth per year in the 2014-15 schoolyear.
The Relay faculty consists of proven K-12 public school educators whose aim is to ensure that teachers are prepared for the realities of teaching. Nashville participants will receive hundreds of opportunities for feedback, while working to demonstrate measurable and meaningful student academic and character gains.
“Nashville has an urgent need to provide students with access to an excellent education, which starts with high-quality teachers,” said Jim Leckrone, East End Preparatory School principal and a native Nashvillian. “I am eager to welcome Relay to Nashville and to have many of our own teachers take advantage of this excellent educational opportunity.”
Relay Nashville will be led by Dean Fellow Linda Lentz. Prior to joining Relay, Lentz co-founded RePublic Schools, a network of schools in Tennessee and Mississippi. She was also the founder and executive director of one of the highest-performing middle schools in Tennessee, and she began her education career as a high school English teacher. Lentz will be closely supported by Michelle Armstrong, Dean of Relay Tennessee.
Relay Nashville received approval to operate in the state from the Tennessee Commission of Higher Education on April 21, 2016. Financial support provided by Project Renaissance helped to make Relay’s expansion to Nashville possible.