MNPS Voices: Meredith McKinney

MNPS Voices: Meredith McKinney, Community Achieves Program Specialist
Posted on 02/03/2023
Meredith McKinney

Meredith McKinney is proud of the work she and her colleagues do with Metro Nashville Public Schools, and she wants everyone to know!

McKinney not only works full-time for the district’s Community Achieves initiative but also started a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Black students see more of themselves in the books they read. 

McKinney has served in several capacities in her seven years with MNPS, including working as a pre-kindergarten family involvement specialist at McGavock and Hermitage elementary schools, where she directly supported families by providing training sessions and supports for students outside the classroom. meredith mckinney

In her current role, McKinney supports students and families as a Community Achieves program specialist, a position she takes extreme pride in. She supports Community Achieves coordinators to ensure the fidelity of the community school model is being implemented in schools, leveraging strategic community partnerships to best meet the needs of students and families.

“We are not simply the food and coat department; we offer wraparound services to students and families that support our four pillars of support,” McKinney said.

While Community Achieves does assist with providing families with food and clothing, it also offers full wraparound services that speak directly to the whole child, centered on four pillars of support: college and career readiness, family engagement, health and wellness, and social services and adult development.

“We want to remove barriers to learning inside the classroom based on the data we receive. We look at the direct needs of the schools, as determined by the school improvement plan, and we allow that evidence to inform what services best meet the needs of the students,” McKinney said.

Community Achieves offers services in the areas of academics with tutoring programs, social and emotional supports, and mentorship programs with organizations such as Girls Incorporated. Also, through community partnerships, partners work with several student cohorts to address attendance issues and behavior concerns.

As a child, McKinney watched her mom work diligently as an educator, so she believed education was ingrained in her from a young age. But she wasn’t sure this would be a path she would follow. She considered working in the business field, and she always enjoyed the idea of teaching on a collegiate level.

“I spent the summers helping my mom prepare her classrooms for the year, putting together bulletin boards and such,” she said. “I considered education, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an elementary school teacher.”

After graduating from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human development family studies with a concentration on early childhood education, she went full speed into education. McKinney’s 18 years in education range from teaching in an elementary school, a position she loved, to serving as an instructional coach, early learning center director, and Head Start staff development coordinator.

She furthered her education by earning a master’s degree in human development family studies from Alabama A&M. She still hopes to teach college students part-time as a way of giving back to students what her professors instilled in her.

McKinney believes MNPS has one primary goal: to provide resources and supports to all students and families and to support teachers. She believes if educational barriers can be removed from families and children, ultimately this will move the needle to support the work teachers do in the classroom.

“I think supporting teachers is huge because they have such a hard job and wear so many hats,” McKinney says. “Taking as much off of them as possible is beneficial to the overall classroom learning environment. Supporting teachers is a big win.”

When McKinney is not supporting MNPS students and families, she enjoys traveling with her husband and children and running the nonprofit she founded in 2020, The Black Book Project. McKinney is passionate about literacy and diversity. As a child, she would find herself coloring book characters’ hair and faces black and brown to match her own hair and skin. This memory prompted her desire to seek diverse representation in literature for children.

The Black Book Project has already partnered with Book'em, for which McKinney serves as a board member and volunteer, to provide thousands of books to MNPS students.

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