Metro Nashville Board of Education member Kay Simmons hopes to have regular reports detailing the progress of Hillsboro High School’s International Baccalaureate program become a staple at future meetings.
Simmons’ request, delivered to fellow members at Tuesday’s board meeting, comes as frustration from parents and students mount over the direction of Hillsboro’s IB program following the district’s decision to transfer Mary Catherine Bradshaw, HHS’s popular IB director.
“This is something more than just about Ms. Bradshaw,” Simmons said of the growing concerns. “It’s about the perception of our academics. It’s about poor communication with stakeholders. It’s about the message we’re sending about the importance of excellent teachers and academic excellence in our schools.”
Bradshaw, a 27-year veteran teacher at the school, is credited with shepherding the IB program at Hillsboro, turning it into one of the most successful versions of the academically demanding program in the state. Hillsboro’s cluster has Tennessee’s only K-12 IB continuum.
Sharon Chaney has replaced Bradshaw on an interim basis, but reasons behind the transfer are unclear.
Simmons, whose district does not include Hillsboro but encompasses the Belle Meade and West Nashville areas, said she has received more emails about Bradshaw’s transfer than about any other subject during her brief stint on the school board.
“We, as district leaders, can’t ignore what our stakeholders are demanding,” Simmons said.
Acknowledging it’s not the board’s role –– nor does it have the power –– to inject itself in personnel decision, Simmons said she wants the board to monitor Hillsboro’s IB program through regulars reports on its progress, new leadership, teacher effectiveness and ongoing expansion.
“We need to monitor the situation, just as we monitor charter schools,” she said, adding that she fully supports Director of Schools Jesse Register and his administration.
This year, more Hillsboro students than ever before have applied for IB diplomas. Moving forward, IB at Hillsboro is set to expand to include two new courses: business and management, as well as sports, exercise and health sciences.
The IB program is also expanding throughout the Hillsboro cluster. Approval of the IB Program to launch at Eakin Elementary School, which feeds into Hillsboro, is expected later this year. Eakin would join Julia Green Elementary School as elementary schools in the Hillsboro cluster that feature the program.