To Assure Academic and Personal Success For Each Child


City Schools Foundation Awards 22 Grants

The City Schools Foundation distributed over $48,000 in grants to teachers in 2021. Twenty-two grants were selected for funding for the 2021-22 school year. The Foundation asks educators from Murfreesboro City Schools to submit proposals for funding that will help them acquire resources not ordinarily provided by taxpayer dollars.
“The range of requests were outstanding and ranged from vermicomposting to math fluency,” says David Scott, Grant Committee Chair, The City Schools Foundation. “It is remarkable to see how educators are utilizing hands-on learning opportunities to enrich the classroom.”
Grants are submitted anonymously and are judged on their merit by a committee. The funding for grants ranged from Books for Math and Science at $100.50 to Learning Outside the Box: Exploring Nature through an Outdoor Campus funded at $10,000. The grant recipients are as follows:

Cason Lane Academy
1 Bot 2 Bot BeeBot BlueBot – Julie Seymour
Vermicomposting – Rachel Cairo
Let’s Get Cooking! – Tara Tedder
Accessing STEM in Special Education – Helen Belcher

Discovery School
My Great Migration Station – Kristy Mall
Mmmmm…Raspberry Pi – Hannelore Dickerson – Amy Ritter
Mistake-Proof, Hands-On Exploration: Place Value Misconception Edition – Angela Bunyi
Walk This Way! STEAM Walk, Listen, Do, Learn – Angela Bunyi

Erma Siegel
Creating Music from the Palm of Your Hand – Mark Hale
Beats From Around the World – Rachel Friedman
Learning Outside the Box: Exploring Nature Through an Outdoor Campus – Emily Clark

Math by the Book – Gina Graham
Aqua-FUN-ics – Anita Morton

Wild About Reading, Robots, and Real-World Readiness – Heather Eskridge

Math and Literacy: It All Adds Up! – Ashleigh Stone

Learning A-Z; 1, 2, 3! – Sarah Chumney
“MakeDo” Tools for Cardboard Design Projects – Kimberly Kahle
Onward and Upward – Sarah Chumney
The Little STEAM Cart that Could! – Kathy Latondress & Beth Wood
Books for Math and Science – Lucie Abbott
Pondering Thoughts – Sarah Chumney

Fact Fluency with Tang! – Alexis Hutchens

Most grants covered an aspect of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.) STEAM allows students to explore subjects in hands-on activities giving our students additional ways to succeed in this rapidly changing technology-based world.

Trustees for The City Schools Foundation include: David Scott, Kimberly Robertson, Joe Faiz, Justin Burris, Stephanie Roach, Travis Lampley, Kimberly Robertson, Vicki Eastham, Charlie Patel, Ellen Slicker, Andrew Young, Katherine Layman and Robin Bayne. Additionally, Dr. Trey Duke and School Board Member Wesley Ballard serve as non-voting members of the Foundation.
To date, The Foundation has raised over $1,000,000 dollars for Murfreesboro City Schools. The City Schools Foundation is a private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. Chartered in 2005, the Foundation was created by volunteers from the community who wanted to supplement the resources available to the Murfreesboro City Schools System. More information can be found at

Erma Siegel Grant Recipient

Northfield Grant Recipients

Discovery School Logo

Discovery School Applications Now Available

Discovery School is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 school year. Applications as well as additional information is now available on the school website.

Applications are available on our website; or printed copies can be obtained at the Discovery School office and the MCS Central Office. The documents required for each grade level are listed on the application. Applications are due January 7th and testing occurs during the months of January and February.

Two tours of Discovery School will be offered on Thursday, December 2nd. The first tour will be at 9:00 a.m. and is limited to 40 people. Please call the school to register. The second tour will be at 6:00 p.m. and there is not an attendance limit. Each tour is one hour.

Monday, December 6 – An informational meeting will be held at the Technology Engagement Center (located behind Hobgood Elementary) from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 7 – 12:00 p.m. Zoom Meeting
Please email for Zoom link.

Applications will be accepted for students in all grade levels. Students must be five years of age by August 15, 2022 to apply to kindergarten.

For additional information, visit or by calling Discovery School at 615-895-2123.

Discovery School, founded in 2005, was created to serve high achieving students in Murfreesboro. Discovery was named a Tennessee Reward School and a Tennessee Designated STEM School in 2019. The Tennessee State Board of Education also recognized Discovery School in 2018 as a National Blue Ribbon School.

MCS Receives $25,000 for STEM

The MCS STEM program received a generous donation from The Business Education Partnership (BEP) Foundation in conjunction with the Nissan Neighbors Program.

The $25,000 grant will be used for current STEM schools and schools seeking STEM designation.  MCS boasts five schools with the designation of Tennessee STEM School by the TSIN organization. This competitive and in-depth process identifies schools for their use of STEM teaching and learning strategies and holds them up as a model from which other schools may visit and learn. Three additional MCS schools are seeking STEM designation in 2021-22.

“Nissan has supported STEM-related curriculum and programs for many years, especially in the communities where our employees live and work. We are pleased to support STEM programs in Rutherford County and believe that this investment in our youth is an investment in our state’s future,” said Parul Bajaj, senior manager of philanthropy at Nissan. “A solid STEM education develops versatile skills that are in high demand in the ever-evolving, increasingly global workplace.”

“We believe all MCS schools can receive the STEM designation within five years,” says Dr. Trey Duke, Director of Schools. “STEM is a proven approach to teaching and I’m proud that we are embracing, not just the acronym, but the practice of hands-on instruction as a model for success across our district.”

STEM education is a transformative approach to traditional teaching and learning that fosters creativity and innovative thinking in all students. An integrated STEM approach teaches students not to think in a silo, but shows them that problem-solving skills and critical thinking are necessary across all disciplines. Through STEM integration we are developing a workforce able to compete and succeed in the current and emerging global economy. – Tennessee STEM Innovation Network

This $25,000 gift is from Nissan’s Nissan Neighbors Program in cooperation with the Business Education Partnership (BEP). Nissan Neighbors is a community relations program that focuses on Education, Environmental Stewardship and Humanitarian Relief. The Business Education Partnership (BEP) was founded in 1988 to foster meaningful collaboration between educators and local businesses.  The BEP mission is to promote and support programs in the public schools in the City of Murfreesboro and in Rutherford County.

MCS STEM receives donation.

Back to School Dash has moved to Virtual

The City Schools Foundation will kick off the 2021-2022 school year with the 6th annual 5K/10K run on September 18, 2021. This year’s event has been changed to a virtual option only.

This event provides an opportunity to support our teachers and our children and encourages the community to get involved in making healthy lifestyle choices.

Register today at

The City Schools Foundation is a group of civic and business leaders banding together to benefit Murfreesboro City Schools’ Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade students.

The 5k/10k run is sponsored by Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics.

For additional information, please visit Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please contact for questions.

What did The City Schools Foundation do in 2020-21?

Typically, the Foundation operates behind the scenes to ensure our teachers and schools have extra funding for innovative ideas through teacher grants and parity dollars. The two fundraisers – Back to School Dash and Excellence in Education – are main funding sources for the Foundation.

In March 2020, The Foundation stepped out of its norm to become a fundraising source to help feed students through our weekend backpack program and CHOW buses. Through their efforts and the efforts of countless individuals, over 17,000 weekend food bags were distributed to children.

The Foundation continued to meet and serve our students even through the unknown of the pandemic. In Summer 2020, the Foundation fulfilled a huge technology need for at-home learning devices to help begin the school year by purchasing 170 Chromebooks totaling almost $50,000.

In September 2020, the Foundation held our first virtual Back to School Dash which exceeded our expectation in support and participation.

Furthermore, the Foundation did not take its focus off of the main mission and provided teacher grants in Fall 2020 totaling nearly $33,000 which are already being used in the classrooms. Parity Grants of $20,000 were provided in the Spring of 2021.

Discovery and Overall Receive Reward School Status

Discovery School and Overall Creek Elementary received the designation of Tennessee Reward Schools with Erma Siegel Elementary missing the designation by mere fractions of a point. Reward status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee.

The annual Reward School designation identifies schools that are improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for student groups. This is the fifth consecutive year, that the state has awarded the Reward School distinction to Discovery School and the second consecutive year for Overall Creek. Approximately 20% of the schools in the state have earned reward status historically.

“I believe this designation is in direct response to the concentrated focus on student learning by our teachers and administrators,” says Dr. Trey Duke, director of Murfreesboro City Schools. “We applaud the staff and students at Discovery and Overall for receiving this designation.”

MCS teachers and support staff consistently look at the needs of individual students under their care and continue to concentrate on serving the whole child.

District Designation

MCS Earns Top Growth Scores

Growth scores for Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS) show level 5 growth in all four categories according to the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) and achieved the advancing district designation.

MCS students claimed a year of successful growth, by achieving the highest level, level 5, in literacy, numeracy, and composite scores.

TVAAS, works in conjunction with TNReady, to measure student growth year over year. In calculating a TVAAS score, a student’s performance is compared relative to the performance of his or her peers who have performed similarly on past assessments. TVAAS scores are for MCS students in 5th and 6th grade.

“I am especially proud of the administrators and teachers who facilitated the success of our children in a year like we have never experienced in the past,” says Dr. Trey Duke, director of Murfreesboro City Schools. “These scores show the herculean efforts of both students and teachers during a year filled with quarantines and distance learning.

Additionally, TNReady data shows that MCS outperformed the state in 12 of 15 achievement areas. MCS also saw Level 5 scores in 4 out of 5 categories of value-added subgroups. Additionally, decreases in literacy and numeracy were less than the decreases seen by the state in 4 of 5 areas.

“I am delighted with the TVAAS scores,” says Duke. “We know instruction was impacted over the past year due to quarantines and the pandemic, yet our students achieved many successes. We want to celebrate these successes while we continue working on raising our proficiency levels in literacy and math.”

MCS continues to focus on the needs of the whole child by reinforcing partnerships with mental health alliances, mentoring and tutoring programs and community partnerships.

MCS News Update

Message to Parents Regarding Covid Protocols

COVID continues to challenge us as a school system and as a community. In our first week of school, we saw 40 positive cases of COVID-19 identified in our students and staff. This was 9 cases short of our weekly high from last school year. In our second week of school, the number of positive cases rose to 98 which is double last year’s one week high. Unfortunately, we anticipate this trend continuing unless action is taken.

Based on the rapidly rising cases we are seeing in our buildings and our need to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our schools open, the MCS Board of Education has enacted a mask requirement for all Murfreesboro City School buildings when indoors and social distancing cannot be maintained. This temporary requirement will be observed from Thursday, August 26 through Wednesday, September 29. This decision was voted on by our school board with the support of our MCS leadership team during Tuesday night’s board meeting.

We are aware that the Governor’s executive order provides all parents an opt-out option should they feel masking is not in their child’s best interest. Parents may find the opt out form by visiting Unless a family has formally opted out of the requirement, all students and staff will be expected to wear masks appropriately and responsibly.

We understand this requirement will not please all MCS families. However, at this time, based on the trends in our schools, we believe it is the best decision for our students and staff.

Principal Ken Rocha

Rocha Named Principal at Bradley Academy

Dr. Trey Duke, director of Murfreesboro City Schools, is proud to welcome Mr. Ken Rocha as principal of Bradley Academy. Rocha joins Bradley Academy with over 20 years of experience as a vice-principal, principal, central office director and classroom teacher.

“We are excited to welcome Mr. Rocha to Murfreesboro,” says Duke. “He is a leader and a motivator who seeks excellence in the classroom while creating an inclusive school community.”

Rocha received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Mary’s College of California. “I am humbled and excited to serve as the new principal for Bradley Academy,” says Rocha. “I will work diligently with our teachers and staff members to create a safe and innovative learning environment for all students with an emphasis on educating the whole-child.”

Bradley Academy currently enrolls around 400 students in pre-K through 6th grade. The school was recently selected by The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Behavior Supports Project (TBSP) as a Model of Demonstration School – Gold Level for Response to Instruction and Intervention for Behavior (RTI2-B). Bradley Academy received the Tennessee STEM Designation in 2019.

Victoria Shields

Shields Named Mitchell-Neilson Principal

Dr. Victoria Shields has been named principal of Mitchell-Neilson Elementary beginning in the 2021-22 school year. Shields joins Murfreesboro City Schools with over ten years of experience in school administrator roles.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Shields to our team,” says Dr. Trey Duke, Director of Murfreesboro City Schools. “She is incredibly qualified and has the vision and experience to lead Mitchell-Neilson Elementary.”

Shields received her Education Specialist and Doctorate of Education in Administration and Supervision from Union University and received her Masters of Education from the University of Memphis.

“I feel blessed by this new opportunity to serve as a principal in the community where I live,” says Shields. “I look forward to working with the Mitchell-Neilson team and celebrating the student successes while we purposely focus on the needs of the whole child. Mitchell-Neilson has a rich history in our community, and I want to honor that legacy and the partnerships that have helped the school succeed.”

As a principal, Shields has worked to increase proficiency of English Language Students and students with disabilities. She has successfully implemented professional learning communities and incorporated differentiated professional development plans to allow teachers to present best practices.

Shields is a member of the Southern Association of Secondary School Leaders, Phi Delta Kappa and Delta Sigma Theta.

Mitchell-Neilson was recently selected by The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Behavior Supports Project (TBSP) as a Model of Demonstration School – School of Recognition for Response to Instruction and Intervention for Behavior (RTI2-B). The school enrolls over 400 students and is located on the corner of Clark and Jones Boulevard.

Dr. Shields will assume her position in July. Murfreesboro City Schools is an exemplary school district of thirteen schools committed to the academic and personal success of each child.

Hardiman Named Reeves-Rogers Principal

Murfreesboro City Schools Director Dr. Trey Duke is proud to announce the appointment of Natalie Hardiman as Principal of Reeves-Rogers Elementary beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

Hardiman currently serves as the Assistant Principal of the school. Hardiman has an extensive background in Murfreesboro City Schools where she began as a teacher at Cason Lane Academy in 2003. She has served in the Assistant Principal role at John Pittard, Scales and Discovery. Hardiman has wide-ranging experience working with children, parents and teachers including serving as past president and membership chair for Murfreesboro Education Association (MEA).

“Ms. Hardiman is an enthusiastic leader with a wealth of experience across the district,” says Dr. Trey Duke. “She is entrenched in the Murfreesboro community and understands the needs of our students at Reeves-Rogers.”

Hardiman received her Education Specialist Degree from MTSU with an emphasis in Administration and Supervision. She received her Masters in Education in Integrating Technology in the Classroom from Walden University.

“I am extremely excited to become the principal at Reeves-Rogers,” says Hardiman. “I have gained so much knowledge from the principals that I have had the privilege of serving with in the past. I look forward to taking my experiences and bringing the best to Reeves-Rogers.”

Additionally, Hardiman was named as Cason Lane Teacher of the Year in 2012 and as MEA Teacher of the Year in 2008 and 2010. Hardiman began her career with MCS at Northfield Elementary.

Reeves-Rogers was recently selected by The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Behavior Supports Project (TBSP) as a Model of Demonstration School – Gold Level for Response to Instruction and Intervention for Behavior (RTI2-B). The school enrolls approximately 400 students and is located on Greenland Drive.

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