Celebrating A.Z. Kelley

A.Z. Kelley Elementary: A Powerful Connection to Nashville History
Posted on 09/29/2021
AZ Kelley students reading in library

A.Z. Kelley is an elementary school in southeast Nashville with a powerful connection to our city’s history.   

The school is named after Reverend Alfred Zee Kelley, who challenged the segregation of Nashville’s public schools in the 1950s. Kelley was the lead plaintiff in Kelley v. Board of Education, a federal lawsuit filed in 1955 originally on behalf of his son, Robert, and 20 other African-American students. The lawsuit is still Tennessee’s longest desegregation case and was not settled until April 1998 – more than 40 years after it was filed – but because of Kelley’s important work, Nashville schools were desegregated.  
Even today, Kelley’s spirit lives on not only in the school’s name but also in his children, who continue to be involved with the school community. 

A.Z. Kelley welcomes more than 730 students from Pre-K to 4th grade every day, and it is a focus for all employees to make sure Every Student is Known every day.   

“At A.Z. Kelley, we are practicing ‘Every Student Known’ by making each focus area a personal goal for our students,” said Dr. Pippa Meriwether, executive principal. “We have modified these focus areas to make them personally relevant for each of our students, and we sent a copy home for parents on the first day of school. We have also reviewed these goals with our students and explained to them what success looks like at AZK in each of these areas. Every Student Known goal posters are displayed in our classrooms and throughout our school." teacher and student at compputer

A.Z. Kelley offers challenging and engaging academics for all students as well as programs that support the development of the Whole Child, including visual and performing arts and physical and emotional wellness. In addition, the school offers Encore gifted and talented services for students.

Fun Facts about A.Z. Kelley

  • The school mascot is a crocodile, and their school colors are kelly green and royal blue.   

  • The school’s motto is: Every day is a novel and unique learning experience at A.Z. Kelley. The Kelley Crew goes above and beyond that which is expected or required.

  • Students and staff kicked off the new year by creating their own self-portraits, which now adorn the walls around the building 

  • The school’s alma mater was written by a teacher and her husband and celebrates Kelley’s dream of equality, honesty, forgiveness, hard work, thankfulness, and love for each other:

“A.Z. Kelley was a man who had to take a stand,

Believing that all children were the same,

To school, they all should go together as they grow,

Becoming future leaders of the land,

Now we're here at A.Z. Kelley Elementary School,

Keeping the dream of equality alive at the green and blue.”

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