Nashville Classical Charter School Succeeds Because of Autonomy, Founder Says


NASHVILLE — The only thing that makes a charter school different from a traditional school district is the level of autonomy, and that is something the Nashville Classical Charter School puts to good use.

Nashville Classical Charter School Founder Charles Friedman

This, according to the school’s founder Charlie Friedman.

School officials teach students in kindergarten through sixth grades. The school opened in 2015 and currently has 452 kids, Friedman said.

Friedman told The Tennessee Star during a tour of the school Friday that, unlike traditional public schools, staff members make their own choices about budget and curriculum. They do so while educating the general population and special needs students.

“In the past few years, we have had some students that struggled to adjust to school. Part of what makes our school different is we don’t have set hours that staff work,” Friedman said.

“So, we have had staff work with students and support their morning transition,” the school’s founder added. “This could include everything from meeting students at home to riding the school bus with them to spending 15 minutes with them every morning to help them prepare before the day begins. We’ve seen students make tremendous progress and start to thrive and those school and family partnerships are only possible because of the autonomy that we have.”

As part of that autonomy, school officials invest a lot in enrichment and extra-curricular programs, according to Friedman.

The school’s website says these low-income students are outscoring overall state averages compared to other students.

Nashville Classical Charter School officials said their mission is to educate every student for high school, college — and life.

“I started my career as a seventh-grade teacher at a traditional school in Philadelphia. I felt like I was able to do a lot of good work within the four walls of my classroom, but then students would leave my classroom and they were part of a system that is not built for students to succeed,” Friedman said.

“After seeing what happened to my kids after they left my classroom, I promised myself that I would never let that happen to my kids ever again,” he continued.

According to the school’s website, school officials teach values that include focus, integrity, resilience, scholarship, team, and a commitment to college prep that includes character.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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