MNPS Voices: Victoria Ragan

MNPS Voices: Victoria Ragan, Dean of Students, Nashville Big Picture High School
Posted on 04/08/2022
Victoria Ragan portrait

Victoria Ragan is as jovial today as when she started her career with Metro Nashville Public Schools 50 years ago in 1972. Ragan, an MNPS graduate, currently serves as the Dean of Students at Nashville Big Picture High School, where personalized learning is a top priority. 

“We meet students where they are, and we bring them up to where they need to be,” Ragan said.

victoria ragan portrait

With Nashville Big Picture being a smaller school setting, some of Ragan’s administrative duties are similar to a traditional school’s assistant principal, such as issuance of textbooks, discipline, overseeing building maintenance and attendance, which she is particularly proud of. Nashville Big Picture recently received the MNPS Blitz Award for showing improvement in attendance, which currently sits at 95%.

Ragan believes her family upbringing played a key role in the direction of her teaching career. She was raised by her parents in Nashville, and she is a 1968 graduate of Stratford High School. Her father, Vic Willis, was a county music artist with the Grand Ole Opry along with his brothers, the Willis Brothers. Ragan wanted to follow a similar path by becoming a music education major at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. But her path changed course along the way.

One of the requirements for the music education certificate was studying French. Ragan fell in love with the language and pursued it as a minor. After some additional changes, she obtained an undergraduate degree from there in English and French.

With such an extensive MNPS history, Ragan has served at multiple school sites, including as the French and English teacher for Maplewood High School from 1972-84, at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School from 1984-85 and at Hunters Lane High School from 1985-2005. Hunters Lane holds a special place for Ragan because she was named Teacher of the Year there in 2003. It’s also where she met and married her husband, the school’s counselor, and both of her children graduated from there.

“As a family, we were able to reflect on our days from three very different perspectives,” Ragan said of those years at Hunters Lane.

After 33 years of teaching, Ragan had no desire to retire, so she switched gears and put the master’s degree she earned from Tennessee State University in Administration and Supervision into play by becoming an assistant principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School from 2005-2012. She would eventually serve as the assistant principal at Nashville Big Picture High School from 2012-2014 before officially retiring in 2014.

Her departure was only partial, however. Ragan found a longing to continue teaching almost immediately after retirement.

“I found that I cannot completely give up being an educator,” she said.

So Ragan returned to Nashville Big Picture in 2015 as a 120-day contract employee and has been there ever since. “Being an administrator offers a person an opportunity to see the world through a different lens, but you still get to be a teacher in your school’s community with parents, students and teachers,” Ragan said.

One of her greatest joys at Big Picture is the opportunity to sponsor the school’s Equestrian Club. The club members meet at least once a month. They not only learn to ride horses but also participate in horse clinics that show them how to properly care for the horses as well. Ragan owns two Tennessee Walking horses and invites her students to ride along with her. The club is currently planning a service club project to support abused horses.

Ragan loves the design of Big Picture Learning, which aligns with the district’s motto of Every Student Known. Big Picture embraces working and supporting each student “One Student at a Time.” Ragan is particularly excited to announce that she will be returning to Big Picture for the 2022-23 school year for her 51st year in education.

“Whatever duties and responsibilities I am given for the upcoming year, I will execute with much fidelity,” she said enthusiastically. “I’m blessed with good health to be able to continue working.”

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