Leaders of a public-private initiative to reimagine K-12 public schools in Nashville want to build on the momentum of their first big gathering last weekend to officially kick off the process.

More than 700 people attended the Project RESET forum hosted Saturday by the Nashville Public Education Foundation. The citywide “idea festival” was designed to elevate the conversation around education and bring Nashvillians together behind a cradle-to-career effort to improve schools.

As local educators and national experts weighed in on the topic, conversation also took place on Twitter, where the event’s #RESETNashville hashtag trended nationally.

“RESET Saturday was the beginning of a much larger citywide conversation,” foundation president and CEO Shannon Hunt said Tuesday in a news release. “Throughout the coming months, we’ll be giving people from all neighborhoods a chance to weigh in on various ideas, hosting brainstorming sessions with educators, and working with elected leaders and candidates to act on the ideas discussed.”

Attendees of all ages write thank-you notes to their favorite teachers.
Attendees of all ages write thank-you notes to their favorite teachers.

Information gathered will be shared with Nashville’s new mayor and director of schools.

City elections will be held on Aug. 6 to replace outgoing Mayor Karl Dean. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) also is in the process of selecting a new director to replace retiring director Jesse Register.

With more than 85,000 students, MNPS is the nation’s 42nd largest school district. With a population of about 634,000, Nashville is Tennessee’s second largest city.

The school district has been challenged to address low student achievement, a changing student population and a lack of consensus over the city’s growing charter sector.

“The foundation will continue to get more people talking about what we can and must do as an entire city,” Hunt said. “It is essential that the community come together and stay together to ensure we pick up the pace and plow forward in a big, bold way.”