Last week, I discussed the rise of museum schools and the vast variety that exist within our field. Today, we will look at just one institution—the John Early Museum Magnet Middle Prep, located in Nashville, Tennessee. It was created as one of six new magnet schools resulting from a Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grant that was awarded to Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in 2011.Like other museum schools, John Early integrates the museum process into their instruction. Students routinely participate in Learning Expeditions, or curriculum based lessons that focus on instruction beyond the boundaries of traditional classroom settings. Every nine weeks, students have a school-wide Exhibit Night in order to share their knowledge of museum standards.
Perhaps one of their most innovative methods of community engagement is the work they do with their pathway school, Robert Churchwell Elementary (also MSAP grant funded). Each month, students from both schools participate in Family Expeditions. These visits allow for in-depth and meaningful experiences between students, their families, and staff at partner museums.
Family Expedition to Glen Leven Farm, August 2015 Credit: Becky Verner
|Student Internship Presentations at the Tennessee State Museum, July 2015, Credit: Becky Verner|
John Early Museum Magnet Middle Prep is unique in comparison to other museum schools because it also is creating its own museum . The museum will be a place of instruction for the students and a place of cultural engagement for the surrounding community. A chance meeting led to the school’s acquisition of a collection from Scarritt College, a school for Methodist missionaries that moved to Nashville in 1924 and ceased holding classes in 1988. As missionaries returned from their missions Scarritt College came to accumulate various cultural artifacts representing the nations they visited. The collection was recently deaccessioned by the Hartzler-Towner Multicultural Museum at the Scarritt Bennett Center and gifted to the John Early.
Exhibit Cases Installed into Museum Space, July 2015 Credit: Lane Tillner
The museum addition is a valuable learning resource for students at John Early. They will be able to explore their museum, only a two minute walk from classrooms. The Junior Curators club will act as docents and provide tours to members of the community and other school groups. The students will create exhibits throughout the hallways, not just in the museum. Teachers will teach with artifacts from the collections and use them to draw direct connections within their curriculum standards. The in-school museum will enhance museum partnerships and create new opportunities for collaboration between the school and its partners.
|Junior Curators Work with Collection, August 2015 Credit: Becky Verner|