Visiting Big Picture Nashville

Our Future School team recently took a trip to Music City to check out Big Picture High School there. My favorite experience was the student panel, where we heard from seniors at the school about their time there. Some highlights from that panel:

  • Lydia had experienced three different LTIs (Learning through Internships) during her time at BPHS. Her first was at an elementary school as a freshman. She quickly decided that she wasn’t as interested in becoming an elementary teacher as she’d originally thought. Her sophomore year found her working with a band director as she’d always loved music. At the end of that year, she once again knew that this career was a dead end. She’d not anticipated how much time the band director sits at her desk instead of actually working with students and music. During her junior year, she began working with a non profit focused on getting parents and the community more involved with schools. She’s since dedicated the last two years of her high school career to this internship. From that, she’d built up a network in the non-profit sector, attained access to scholarships for her higher education, and acquired an impressive portfolio and toolbox of skills.
  • Another student was Misha who had worked in a daycare for one of her LTI experiences. Since then, she’d moved into dentistry and dental hygiene. Not only was she able to work at a dentist office through her internships, but the school’s partnership with an institute of higher learning allowed her to pursue the coursework for her dental assistant’s licensure. Not content to just explore her career, she also worked with a non profit called the Venture Program whose goal is to build water systems to go to Kenya. She’s doing all of these things before even graduating high school.
  • Danny’s passion is politics. He knew he wanted to be in politics all his life. He’s an extremely bright student who would qualify as an “AP” kid at a traditional school. He chose the BPL model school because it allowed him to devote more time and energy to his true passion, really creating an deep, focused exploration. All of his LTIs have involved work in politics: a campaign for mayor, a campaign for governor, and a campaign for congress. Currently, he interns with a political consulting firm that works on policy matters at the national level! This is the sort of access and experience that just isn’t traditionally available in schools.
  • Another student was a late transfer to the BPL school. Robert had lost his mom early in life, and he spoke eloquently about how this school had become like a family to him. He came in wanting to focus on basketball. While he still plays basketball and would love to play at the “next level,” he now understands that education is his ticket to a successful future. I was moved by his insight into his LTI at a daycare where he attributed his popularity with the children to the fact that many of them had few male role models in their lives.

One of the students probably put it best when they said that Big Picture High School had given her “the opportunity to make my own future and the tools to do so.”


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