High School Alignment Team

Capstone Experience Expansion

According to Tennessee state law, all MNPS high school students must complete a Capstone experience as a graduation requirement.

A Capstone project is a long-term, in-depth project that allows high school students to learn about themselves by exploring in great detail a topic of interest, specialization, community need or career choice. The concept of the MNPS Capstone Experience is to put learning into practice – to extend learning into applied experiences in which students actively participate and transition from high school to college or career.  The Capstone Experience requires students to pick a topic or theme for their project, and then partner with one or more organizations or businesses in the community to assist them in acquiring knowledge about this theme. Students fulfill four requirements that are connected to their theme through extensive research and hands-on learning via community partnerships: A research paper; a product, outcome, or deliverable; a portfolio documenting 40 hours' worth of relevant work-based experiences around project theme; and an oral and digital presentation in front of teacher, peers, and community members.  Community partnership opportunities for supporting student projects can encompass everything from providing internships and job shadows, to giving an interview for a student’s paper, to mentorship on all or part of a project, or even serving as a panel judge during student presentations in spring.

Between 2012 and 2013, the Experiential Learning A-Team (now operating within the High School A-Team) worked with MNPS to develop and pilot an experiential learning course for students, to simplify the process of satisfying the state’s Capstone requirement for graduation. The team worked with district staff to create and implement a framework and a research manual for Capstone teachers to effectively guide students through a self-selected project experience. Eighteen schools participated in the pilot year with a total number of 2,190 students enrolled in the Capstone course. As a result of the pilot year’s success, Capstone became a recommended course for all MNPS seniors in 2014-15, and approximately 90% across the district are participating.


In 2014, the Experiential Learning Team saw an opportunity to grow Capstone both in capacity and accessibility. Heeding feedback offered by both Capstone teachers and Capstone partners about the successes and difficulties of matching students with partners for work-based experiences, the team began the process of creating an online, login-protected resource portal to house all current Capstone Partners offering information. Meanwhile, a plan was devised to recruit more local partners to participate in Capstone. Out of these ideas, the team developed a two-part tactic involving two Invitations to ParticipateTM:

Tactic 1

Engage existing Capstone, Pencil, and Academies partners to submit their student offerings to be listed on MNPSCapstone.org

Tactic 2

Engage new partners and “unusual suspects” to identify opportunities within their operational capacity for Capstone project support and to be listed on MNPSCapstone.org

Tactic 1, or ITP Part A, was released in the summer of 2014 and called for current Capstone, Pencil, and Academies Partners to submit listings of their offerings for students to be listed on the Capstone portal, located at MNPSCapstone.org. Tactic 2/ITP Part B, released in the fall after the site was built and populated with partner information, called for new businesses and organizations to engage with Capstone by identifying opportunities within their capacity for young people to receive Capstone project support. The two-part ITP remained open throughout the 2014-15 academic year, recruiting new partners and funneling partner listings onto MNPSCapstone.org for reference by teachers and students.

In 2015, Tactic 2 was refreshed and a new ITP went out to the public in support of Capstone. Currently, the High School A-Team is fielding and reviewing responses for addition to the full-service MNPSCapstone.org portal.


Partner engagement efforts have included utilizing the CABLE network of women professionals, as well Young Professionals (YP) Nashville. Additionally, the A-Team is planning to host a series of community meetings to be held during the 2015-16 school year in order to engage more partners in this innovative initiative.



 Increase High School Graduation Rates


(to be measured at end of 2015-16 school year)

Increase community support of MNPS high school students

Increase partnerships between local organizations and schools

Participating Organizations:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

HST Interior Elements

Nashville Career Advancement Center

Urban Green Lab

The Parthenon

Nashville CARES

The Turnip Truck

Department of Music Trevecca

Vanderbilt University School of Engineering


Hands On Nashville

Lipscomb University College of Nursing

Lipscomb University School of Nursing

Adventure Science Center

Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)

Ford Motor Credit Company

HCA (Hospital Corporation of America)

Meharry Medical College

Evolution Event Solutions, LLC

Universal Robotics, Inc. Adventure Science Center

Emma, Inc.

Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon

Vanderbilt's School of Engineering Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS)

ACE Mentors of Middle Tennessee

Thomas Miller and Partners

Willis North America Inc.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Belcourt Theatre


Frist Center for the Visual Arts

EOA Architects

Nashville Symphony

Metro Arts (Metro Nashville Arts Commission)

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival

Oasis Center

Oasis Center

Inglewood Elementary PTO

 The Larry Keeton Theatre & The Senior Center for the Arts

Nashville Sports Council/ Music City Bowl Inc.

Chaney Mosley

Arts Alive Tennessee/Trash to Treasure Development Corporation  501 c3 

Park Center

Trash to Treasure Development Corporation  501 c3

Metro Nashville Public Schools/Support Services/Community Achieves

The Tennessee Credit Union

The Parthenon

New Directions Counseling and Consulting

The Holiday Inn Vanderbilt

Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America

Meharry Medical College

Middle Tennessee State University

Conexion Americas

Tennessee Voices for Children

Oasis Center

Alignment Nashville - Healthy Starts Alignment Team


UT/TSU Agriculture Extension Davidson County

Urban Green Lab






(to be measured at end of 2015-16 school year)

Partners report satisfaction with streamlined student-to-partner process via MNPSCapstone.org
Student opportunities to create partnerships, gain Capstone hours, and pass the course are expanded


Online resource portal for teachers is populated with at least 20 existing partners’ listings

ACTUAL: 47 listings


“It is really amazing that Capstone is now something that all seniors are doing. I think Capstone is a great example of the District’s drive towards integrated learning and higher expectations for students.  I love seeing the push in that direction from MNPS because the workforce has such high expectations in those arenas.”

- Ellen Zinkiewicz, NCAC

Going forward the High School Team will continue to identify and recruit partners to support the Capstone Experience for MNPS students, releasing an ITP each fall to meet that need. The team will also continue supporting the maintenance and upkeep of the MNPSCapstone.org resource. The team will also be working hard to raise awareness of MNPSCapstone.org among teachers and students within MNPS so that it can be as useful a resource as possible. 



Aimee Wyatt, Chair, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Cheryl Mayes, Vice Chair, Nissan North America

Samantha Andrews, Frist Center for Visual Arts

Lisa Bonelli, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Sonya Brooks, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Elise Burns, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Allison Cantway, Nashville International Center for Empowerment

Nicole Cobb, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Chae Denning, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Thom Druffel, Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt

Tiffany Farmer, Adventure Science Center

Beverley Flatt, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Lee Gray, Oasis College Connection

Kay Higgs, STARS Nashville

Susan Kessler, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Kyla Krengel, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Bob Kucher, PENCIL Foundation

DeeGee Lester, The Parthenon

Sonya Mansfield, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Lonnell Matthews, YMCA of Middle Tennessee

Chaney Mosley, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Susan Murphy, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Kelly Noser, Noser Consulting and Evaluation

Caitlin Nossett, HCA Foundation

Meghan Oliver, Nashville State Community College

Jill Petty, Metro Nashville Public Schools            

Matt Seaton, PENCIL Foundation

Jason Seay, Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation

Stephen Sheaffer, Metro Nashville Public Schools

James Snider, Tennessee Student Assistance Corp.

Jay Steele, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Jason Strandquist, Hands On Nashville

Ellen Zinkiewicz, Nashville Career Advancement Center


For more information, contact Melissa Jaggers, Associate Executive Director.