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Attention shoppers: Opry Mills will offer more than just great shopping this year; it will also help hundreds of students earn their high school diplomas. Forced to close after the devastating May 2010 flood, the Academy at Opry Mills, supported by the Simon Youth Foundation, is back in business and eager to help its new class of students get on track and graduate.



“The impact we have felt in the three short years that we have offered these non-traditional programs has been tremendous,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Since 2009, we have watched 1,040 students graduate from our Academies -- located at Hickory Hollow, Old Cockrill and Opry Mills. These young men and women were at high-risk of dropping out but instead got back on track and earned high school diplomas.”







Led by new principal Carmon Brown, who previously served as an assistant principal at Hillsboro High School, the school will cater to each student’s unique needs and circumstances. In a statement issued earlier in the summer, Associate Superintendent of High Schools Jay Steele commended Brown’s 20 years of experience in high schools and said he will be a “strong leader for the Academy at Opry Mills who understands how the Academy can help students overcome obstacles and earn a high school diploma.”



The new, state-of-the-art facility features an open concept with identifiable learning centers that can be easily adapted to accommodate different instructional practices, projects and learning opportunities. The innovative space will promote collaborative and learning opportunities for the students. It also features a new exterior entrance that will make the school much easier to locate and access from the parking lot.




“For the students at the Academy, the traditional classroom setting did not work,” said SYF President and CEO J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D. “Our Academy will create a non-traditional environment that will ignite hope in students, giving them the confidence to be successful and earn their high school diploma.”



The Academy at Opry Mills is one of three Metro Schools supported by SYF. The second is The Academy at Hickory Hollow, which opened to serve the students displaced by the closure of the school at Opry Mills after the historic flood in May 2010. The third is The Academy at Old Cockrill, which opened in 2009 and this year will begin receiving scholarship support from SYF. Between the three academies, SYF and MNPS will annually serve hundreds of at-risk Nashville youth.



About the Academies

These academies are for students who wish to pursue a high school diploma in a non-traditional high school setting. For admission, students must be 17-21 years of age and need eight or fewer credits in the content areas. Studies are highly individualized to each student’s needs and personal circumstances.



About SYF

Simon Youth Foundation, established in 1998, operates 23 academies in 13 U.S. states that give at-risk students the same education they would receive in a traditional classroom while offering the flexibility that their individual circumstances require. Recipient of the Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention from the National Dropout Prevention Center, the foundation has helped more than 8,000 students earn their high school diploma and provided more than $10.7 million in college scholarships to 3,500 students in 42 states. The Education Commission of the United States has recognized the Foundation with its Corporate Award for sustained and substantial investment in improving public education.

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Join Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Simon Youth Foundation and Opry Mills at a reception for the Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills.



The Academy is a non-traditional high school that serves at-risk students, and its return after the floods in 2010 will once again provide hope to students in need.



The Academy at Opry Mills Reception

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Want to help great students earn their high school diplomas?



A school that gives students their second chance to graduate is getting a second chance itself. The Academy at Opry Mills had to move across town after the historic flood of 2010. But it is being reborn with a lot of hard work and help from Metro Schools and our partners at the Simon Youth Foundation.



Now you can pitch in, too.



SYF Gift RegistrySimon Youth has set up a “gift registry” of sorts where you can make donations that will go directly to finishing The Academy’s space inside Opry Mills Mall. Have $50 to contribute? You just “bought” a lamp or other classroom support item for students to use. $100? That’s good for a set of group seating. Big spenders can sponsor high-tech items like interactive white boards, teacher workstations or even an entire media center that students will use directly.


Furnish the Future of The Academy at Opry Mills


“This is not about buying fixtures for classrooms; this is about furnishing the future of Nashville by keeping young people in school so that they can prosper to become active members of the community who secure well-paying jobs that positively impact the local economy,” says SYF President and CEO J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D.



The donations all go toward a $350,000 grant from Simon Youth to Metro Schools. That grant is what will help The Academy at Opry Mills break new ground in classroom design. The school is being built using the principles set forth in The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning. It will be a collaborative and engaging environment far removed from the traditional high school classroom. Please take a moment to look at the donation page and make a contribution, no matter how small (or big!).



Opry Mills Floor Plan


And look for a lot more bragging about The Academies at Old Cockrill, Hickory Hollow, and Opry Mills in 2012-13!



Full release from the Simon Youth Foundation:













“Furnish the Future” Public Giving Campaign Launches in Support of Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After being closed for more than two years following the historic Nashville flood in May of 2010, the Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills will reopen this August and once again serve Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) students who are at risk for dropping out.



Now, Nashville area residents can help write the story of the school’s return by making a gift to Simon Youth Foundation, the nonprofit organization supporting the school’s reconstruction.



In the style of a gift registry, a donation page has been established at SYF.org to allow the Nashville community and other supporters to directly contribute to the construction of the new school, including the purchase of student desks and seating and learning resources like white boards and monitors.



“Gifts supporting the Academy at Opry Mills are a sound investment in the city’s future, and we are hopeful that Nashville residents will take ownership of this new school by contributing to the cause,” said SYF President and CEO J. Michael Durnil, Ph.D. “This is not about furnishing classrooms; this is about securing the future of Nashville by keeping young people in school so that they can become active members of our community.”



In a first for Metro Schools, the Academy at Opry Mills will utilize concepts from the book The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning. With innovative use of space and design, the Academy will promote collaborative and active learning while offering flexibility in the layout of learning spaces. The environment will engage students in new ways and benefit student-teacher interaction.



“For the students at the Academy, the traditional classroom setting did not work,” Durnil says. “We will be creating a non-traditional environment that will ignite hope in students, giving them the confidence to be successful and earn their high school diploma.”



Gifts made through the gift registry page at SYF.org will help fund a $350,000 grant from Simon Youth Foundation to Metro Schools for the Academy build out, and the school will operate in partnership between the two organizations with support from Opry Mills.



To support the reopening of the Academy at Opry Mills, donors can log on to http://www.syf.org/support-syf/donate-in-support-of-the-simon-youth-academy-at-opry-mills. While suggested gift amounts are posted at the page, donations at any level are encouraged. SYF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, and all gifts to the Academy construction are tax deductible.



The Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills is one of two Metro Schools supported by SYF. The second is the Simon Youth Academy at Hickory Hollow, which opened to serve the students displaced by the flood-forced closure of the school at Opry Mills in 2010. Between the two Academies, SYF and MNPS will annually serve as many as 500 at-risk Nashville youth.



The reopening of The Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills follows the recent return of Opry Mills as the largest outlet and value retail shopping, dining, and entertainment destination in Tennessee. With more than 200 popular stores, plus an unmatched selection of family-friendly dining options and entertainment venues, Opry Mills is a top destination and a vital economic force, providing jobs, impacting tourism, and generating revenue.



About SYF

Simon Youth Foundation, established in 1998, operates 23 academies in 13 U.S. states that give at-risk students the same education they would receive in a traditional classroom while offering the flexibility that their individual circumstances require. Recipient of the Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Prevention from the National Dropout Prevention Center, the foundation has helped more than 8,000 students earn their high school diploma and provided more than $10.7 million in college scholarships to 3,500 students in 42 states. The Education Commission of the United States has recognized the Foundation with its Corporate Award for sustained and substantial investment in improving public education.

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Three students from the Academy at Hickory Hollow have racked up big scholarship dollars from the Simon Youth Foundation, to the tune of $28,000 each!



Lance Dowling, Clinton Ekwuazi, and Simone Ross-Thompson were awarded the scholarships during the Opry Mills Mall grand re-opening celebration on Saturday, May 5.



SYF established the Community Scholarship to meet the financial needs of students in communities that host Simon® shopping centers. The goal of the Foundation is to apply a holistic approach to the educational experiences of our youth. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of financial need, academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, statement of goals and aspirations, and an outside appraisal. The Academy at Hickory Hollow relocated from Opry Mills after the May 2010 floods that submerged the Opryland area, but still receives great support from SYF. The Academy at Opry Mills, will re-open this fall.



Lance Dowling is a May 2012 graduate, who will be attending Middle Tennessee State University to study sports medicine. Clinton Ekwuazi, also a May 2012 graduate, has been accepted to Middle Tennessee State University and waiting on a response from Austin Peay State University. Simone Ross-Thompson, a December 2011 graduate, has been accepted to Tennessee State University.

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Our very good friends at the Simon Youth Foundation want to give Nashville students a chance at $5,000 for college just for telling their own stories of perseverance.



Simon Youth is sponsoring the contest to mark the reopening of Opry Mills Mall after the historic flood of 2012 - and the upcoming relaunch of The Academy at Opry Mills.



All you have to do to win is write an essay with the theme "Back in a Big Way: My Personal Story of Perseverance." It's open to all current Metro students who are juniors in high school. You must also be in good academic standing and have plans to enroll in college full-time. The deadline is June 1, 2012.



Full details, including where to enter, are in the flyer below.


Simon Youth Essay Contest


 

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