Celebrating MNPS Black Excellence

Black History Month gets us to think about and reflect on MNPS’s Black graduates and everything they’ve achieved in Nashville and beyond. In business, government, philanthropy, the arts, sports, and many other fields, those who once were children in our schools are now succeeding and leading as thoughtful, caring adults.

It’s true in education, too, of course. It’s a beautiful thing to see so many of our Black graduates back in the district as educators, leaders, and public servants.

So this year we’re celebrating MNPS Black Excellence once again, with a focus – though not exclusively – on graduates who are working in our schools and the Support Hub, giving back to the students who are coming along behind them. You’ll hear from a few of those students as well.

And while you’re here, take a look at the last few years of wonderful alumni and student MNPS Black Excellence videos


"Lift Every Voice and Sing" performed by students from Andrew Jackson and Eagle View Elementaries


"Lift Every Voice and Sing" was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. The poem was first performed by 500 students of Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was the principal, for the celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Delight in the joyful noise students from Eagle View and Andrew Jackson elementary schools make as they sing and play "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the stirring song also known as the Black National Anthem.

  • Andrew Jackson Music Teacher: Kaitlin Tilden
  • Eagle View Music Teacher: Alicia Engram



Kevin Aigbe, Antioch High School, Class of 2000

Kevin Aigbe, assistant principal at John Overton High School, talks about what Black Excellence means to him: consistency, knowing who you are, and leaving a legacy.




Jordan, Freshman, John Overton High School

Jordan, a freshman at John Overton High School, talks about Black Excellence and the importance of perseverance.



Cindy Kent, Hume-Fogg Academic High School, Class of 1987

Cindy Kent, a healthcare business executive and corporate board director, talks about Hume-Fogg's profound impact on her life and career and her wish for today's students to take advantage of the many opportunities they have to learn and grow.



Dr. Shavoncia Watts, Whites Creek High School, Class of 1996

Dr. Shavoncia Watts, coordinator of non-academic supports with MNPS's Schools of Innovation network, talks about the impact of her MNPS education on her life and work.


Dr. Kevin Armstrong

John Overton High School, Class of 1990

Dr. Kevin Armstrong, principal of DuPont Hadley Middle School, talks about the confidence his MNPS teachers helped instill in him, showing him "the ability to be great."


Marquis Churchwell

McGavock High School, Class of 1993

Marquis Churchwell is the assistant principal at Martin Luther King Academic Magnet High School.

"Black Excellence is being selfless, and being of service to others, being a catalyst for change, for equality and equity for all."



Fourth Grade Student

Jordyn, a fourth grader at Waverly-Belmont Elementary, talks about what Black Excellence means to her.


Dr. Megan Suggs

Maplewood High School, Class of 2006

Dr. Megan Suggs, assistant principal at Hull-Jackson Montessori Magnet Elementary School, talks about her wish for today's MNPS students - and what Black Excellence means to her.



Mose Phillips Jr.

Hillsboro High School, Class of 1990

Mose Phillips Jr., an Exceptional Education teacher at Cane Ridge High School, talks about how his student days at Hillsboro High School prepared him for college and life by exposing him to people from many cultures and backgrounds.


Carmen Shaw Moore

East High School, Class of 1973

MNPS travel specialist and East High School graduate Carmen Shaw Moore talks about two teachers and an assistant principal whose influence on her remains strong today.


Tiffany Elle Burgess

Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet, Class of 1997

Actress, author, consultant and Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School graduate Tiffany Elle Burgess talks about the impact of Metro Nashville Public Schools on her life and what Black excellence means to her. 

Burgess plays Olivia in the new movie “The Color Purple.”


Eric Townsend

Whites Creek High School, Class of 1988

Maplewood High School history teacher and athletics business manager Eric Townsend talks about a mentor whose words of wisdom have stuck with him since he was a student at Whites Creek High School more than 35 years ago.