For the second time in weeks, supporters of Hillsboro High School teacher Mary Catherine Bradshaw Tuesday night packed Metro’s school board meeting, this time delivering a new message:
Turn Hillsboro, along with Hunters Lane High School, into an International Baccalaureate magnet school.
Hillsboro parents, students and alumni weeks ago made a passionate appeal to Director of Schools Jesse Register and the nine-member school board to retain Bradshaw, the school’s revered International Baccalaureate director. Since then, Bradshaw’s transfer to Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School has become official, leaving a similar crowd Tuesday calling for a dramatic change in the structure of Hillsboro.
“IB is well equipped to meet a wide range of abilities and interests,” Hillsboro parent Cameron Phillips told board members. “Today, an exciting opportunity waits for the board’s consideration — Hillsboro and Hunters Lane as the first IB magnets in the district.”
The board did not vote Tuesday on a formal proposal. Following the meeting, several parents told The City Paper they plan on producing a draft, with intentions to hand it to Hillsboro principal Terry Shrader.
Under their plan, all students at Hillsboro and Hunters Lane would be geared around International Baccalaureate, an acclaimed model that supporters say fosters critical thinking and international mindedness. Enrollment would be open and not take grade-point average or standardized testing into consideration.
Bradshaw’s exit has ignited the Hillsboro community, with many suggesting the turmoil has compromised or at least disrupted the school’s IB program. Many blame her transfer on The Academies of Nashville, the high school model whereby students select thematic- or career-based academies to guide their learning. IB is considered an academy. School officials have said Hillsboro’s IB program will continue to thrive.
Transforming Hillsboro and Hunters Lane to a full International Baccalaureate format could be a tough sell. Register, who has led the district for nearly two and a half years, has said he’s pleased with the overall direction of Metro’s 12 comprehensive high schools, including academies.
“I feel very good with where we’re going with our high schools,” Register told The City Paper last week, responding to criticism of the academy concept. “It’s research based. We know that it works, and so we’re trying to implement as best we can for the district.”
Despite that assurance, the rancor at Hillsboro seems unlikely to subside anytime soon, and the push to make Hillsboro a IB magnet school could be the saga’s next chapter.
“I think that instead of moving Hillsboro to an academy school, we should move it the other direction and make it a full IB school,” said Will Gormley, a Hillsboro student.
“I used to go to Montgomery Bell Academy, one of the most prestigious private schools in the state,” he said. “I chose the IB program over MBA because I knew that I could get a great education.”