MNPS Voices Joe Fitzgerald III

MNPS Voices Joe Fitzgerald III
Posted on 03/04/2021
Joe Fitzgerald III is an educator with a proven trajectory of advocacy for students and families. He was born, raised, and educated in Nashville. As an MNPS alum, Fitzgerald attended Fall-Hamilton Elementary, Buena Vista Elementary, and Wright Middle before graduating from Glencliff High School. He was a student-athlete and an active participant in the Fine Arts department.

Fitzgerald’s educational path has been very fruitful. After high school, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Maryville College and a Master of Education degree from Middle Tennessee State University, where he is now actively pursuing a Doctor of Education degree.

Prior to joining MNPS, Fitzgerald worked at Blount County Schools and Knox County Schools as a high school economics and mathematics teacher for 10 years. After his successful career in those counties, Fitzgerald decided to move back to the Nashville area and initially worked as a math specialist at Antioch Middle School. He then moved to Data Quality and Integrity and worked as a records specialist for the Cane Ridge cluster before he got an opportunity to serve the Pearl-Cohn cluster as the family engagement specialist.

Fitzgerald now serves as classroom management specialist and community liaison at Cockrill Elementary, “under the exceptional leadership of Dr. Carlos Comer,” he said.

This role involves a substantial number of tasks to ensure student success, including regular communication with mentors and the collection, aggregation, and reporting of behavioral data “to help tailor and determine next actionable steps.”

“As a navigator lead, I help connect each student to a path of success,” Fitzgerald said, “and as trauma-informed ambassador, I collaborate with the school’s trauma-informed specialist to ensure the trauma-informed work is carried out as planned.”

Other important tasks for Fitzgerald include, but are not limited to, Panorama school building coordinator, care team coordinator, family engagement coordinator, community liaison coordinator, classroom manager specialist, and Reading is Fundamental (RIF) liaison.

When we asked Fitzgerald how his coworkers or community stakeholders can collaborate with his efforts, he said: “Exposure is still one of the most underutilized tools that has the potential to destroy mundaneness and dissolve barometers associated with generational poverty.”

Fitzgerald takes inspiration from Mitchel Resnick, the author of Lifelong Kindergarten, who has said, “Creativity doesn’t come from laughter and fun; it comes from experimenting, taking risks, and testing the boundaries.”

“I am convinced that exposure will provide experimentation, promote healthy risk-taking, and help our learners push boundaries,” Fitzgerald says. “We should capitalize on opportunities that can expose our learners to something positive, something relevant, and something new.”

Fitzgerald’s advice to new MNPS staff working to build a successful career is to stay ready, because when you stay ready, you do not have to get ready. If an opportunity presents itself and you are trying to get ready, you are too late.

When Fitzgerald is not busy helping students and families, he enjoys singing, worshiping, teaching, cooking, traveling, bowling, skating, and spending uninterrupted time with his wife and children.
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