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Community School Awardee Pearl-Cohn High School Uses Music to Heal Hate

The Coalition for Community Schools condemns the actions of White Supremacists in Charlottesville. Standing up for the underserved and ensuring all students are provided with the services they deserve and need reinforces our commitment to equity. Community schools across the nation took action to help make sure students felt safe, welcomed and loved after the Charlottesville tragedy. In the week following the tragic events of Charlottesville, Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph emailed the staff with insights on leading with empathy.

"Nashville has a unique, uncompromising history of fighting for civil rights. We are a community that embraces the world’s children with open arms as our own, and we see our diversity as one of our greatest strengths," he wrote. As we help our children understand the challenges that violence, bigotry, and hate pose to all of us as human beings, let us communicate our commitment and appreciation for diversity in all of its forms."

Pearl-Cohn (PC) teacher Richard Prather witnessed the Charlottesville protest first-hand and struggled with how to present what he saw to his students. "I was only just beginning to know them, and I could not discern how much of my personal story to share… We explored empathy through our NEST advisory lessons and in class, I continued to draw kids back to the harsh example of Charlottesville, challenging all of us to consider how an empathetic approach forward might affect the future of that city, for better or worse."  

 Pearl-Cohn students and faculty not only talked about the Charlottesville  tragedy but decided to take action using music to heal hate by creating a song, uniting students from different parts of Nashville with a music video, entitled "A Message for Charlottesville."

Charlottesville students were shown the music video, produced collaboratively by MNPS students through Pearl-Cohn's student-run record label. PC teacher, Mr. Prather is now in preliminary discussions with some of his Charlottesville High School (CHS) friends about actualizing a more direct CHS-PC collaboration to re-produce the music video with student-artists from CHS. 
Another way that MNPS continues to address equity is through P.A.S.S.A.G.E., which stands for Positive and Safe Schools Advancing Greater Equity.  
P.A.S.S.A.G.E. is a community-district collaboration in Nashville focused on addressing the inequities in school discipline and creating positive school climate that helps students overcome barriers. Funded by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, PASSAGE is a partnership between the Oasis Center, Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and a diverse local Steering Committee of over 30 cross-sector leaders in the city.
In Metro Schools, teachers and staff members continue to receiving training in the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), which is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on the alignment of systems necessary for all students’ academic, behavioral, and social success. 

As community schools across the nation continue to discuss racisim here are some tools to help begin the conversation.

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