Celebrating Harris-Hillman

Harris-Hillman School: Helping Students Engage with the World 
Posted on 03/07/2022
Harris Hillman student, using wheelchair, at his graduation

Harris-Hillman School, home of the Dragons, provides services to students with disabilities who are placed on an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, empowering students to live as independently as possible.   Harris-Hillman students at lunch table

Every day the school strives to fulfill its mission: To provide engaging and meaningful access to the world through an innovative educational program and community partnerships.  

“Harris-Hillman School is a loving community dedicated to providing to the educational and social-emotional needs of each individual student,” Principal Gerry Altieri says. “Our dedicated staff ensure that IEP goals are authentic to each individual student and that outcomes ensure success for each learner.”

Harris-Hillman’s vision is to be a leader in innovative, standards-based instruction tailored to the individual needs of students ages 3 to 21. In addition to helping students gain independence, the school fosters community relationships and creates job opportunities so that so that each Harris-Hillman post-graduate student can be a participating member of society.  

The school ensures that Every Student is Known through several initiatives:  Harris-Hillman teacher and student

  • Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology: These are a big part of making sure students have a voice at Harris-Hillman. From low to high tech, students are motivated to find a voice and communicate. The school uses multiple ways of engaging students to share from pre-K to their community-based classes. 
  • Literacy: Harris-Hillman presents Tennessee State Standards tests in a modified format. Staff modify reading materials that are of high interest for individual students that meet the needs of students and their IEP goals. The school uses Pathways to Learning and News2you to reinforce literacy skills.  
  • Morning Meetings: During morning meetings, each student prepares for the day by sharing how they are feeling and by practicing communication skills with their peers.  

Harris-Hillman also works to shape strong family relationships through effective daily communications. Harris-Hillman believes that strong family support and community relationships play a significant role in the school’s successes. The school staff includes eight school nurses on hand to meet the needs of the students as well as caring bus drivers who take a personal interest in the students.

Harris-Hillman prides itself on being a school with extremely low staff turnover and having award-winning teachers on staff. They have had three Blue Ribbon Teachers in the last four years and one MNPS Middle School Teacher of the Year winner (2019). 

Transitional Services and Jobs for Students

Their Project Search program, located at the Embassy Suites Hotel, places 100 percent of the students in a job by the end of each school year.  Along with the hotel, some of their many community-based job sites include the following organizations:  student at his graduation celebration

  • Holiday Inn Vanderbilt
  • St. Thomas Hospital
  • Unicycle
  • Bridge Builder
  • Taziki’s
  • Centennial Sportsplex
  • Metro Surplus
  • Metro Board of Education
  • Disaster Relief Effort
  • Donelson Café
  • Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Walgreens
  • Southern Hills Medical Center
  • Good Samaritan
  • Nashville Zoo
  • Regal Hollywood 27 Cinema
  • Cohn School
  • Greater Nashville Regional Council
  • Hugh Baby's
  • Kimpton Hotel
  • Sonesta Hotel 

Transition Fair April 1

Students with disabilities and their families are invited to a virtual conversation to review opportunities and options for students as they prepare for life after high school. Options include employment, postsecondary education, independent living.

The event will be held on Microsoft Teams from 8:30 to 1:30 April 1.
Visit the Transitional Services page for more information.


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