NPEF Public School Hall of Fame winners

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Brenda Gilmore, Lisa Ferrelli, Don Hardin, Daven Oglesby, Jan Esterline and Dr. Alex Jahangir have been declared the Nashville Public Education Foundation’s 2021 award winners for the Public School Hall of Fame, to be held Sept. 29.

The Nashville Public Education Foundation will honor a state senator, public schoolteachers, business and medical leaders, and nonprofit organizations at its 17th annual Public Schools Hall of Fame celebration at noon Sept. 29.

The foundation honors individuals and organizations each year that demonstrate exceptional dedication and commitment to Nashville’s public schools and students.

This year’s event, presented virtually by First Horizon Foundation, is co-chaired by Kate Chinn, vice president and head of community and civic engagement for AllianceBernstein, and Alfred Degrafinreid, associate vice chancellor of local government relations and community partnerships for Vanderbilt University.

The event raises funds for the foundation’s work supporting local schools.

“It remains a top priority of the Nashville Public Education Foundation to identify and celebrate the incredible work of our teachers and leaders and all who support them daily across our city,” foundation President and CEO Katie Cour said. “We are committed not only to recognizing and rewarding excellence, but also to spotlighting successful strategies that help ensure all students thrive in Nashville’s public schools.”

Sen. Brenda Gilmore will be honored with the Nelson C. Andrews Distinguished Service Award. Gilmore represents District 19 in the Tennessee General Assembly and has a history of advocating for youth and education in Nashville. Outside her career in public service, her community involvements have included the John F. Kennedy Susan Gray School for Children, the Margaret Cunningham Women’s Center and the Northwest Nashville YMCA.

Three Nashvillians will also be honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from Belmont University:

Lisa Ferrelli, graduate of Bellevue High School and senior vice president with the Mid South Global Commercial Banking team at Bank of America. She is also on the boards of several community organizations, including the YWCA and the Nashville Rotary.

Don Hardin, Maplewood High School graduate and co-owner of Nashville-based construction management firm the Don Hardin Group. The firm has been involved in major projects such as Music City Center, First Horizon Park and the National Museum of African American Music.

Dr. Alex Jahangir, graduate of MLK Jr. Magnet High School, orthopedic trauma surgeon and director of the division of orthopedic trauma at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Jahangir was instrumental in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic after he was named chair of the Metro Nashville Coronavirus Taskforce in March 2020.

Two organizations serving Nashville and Middle Tennessee will be awarded the Thomas J. Sherrard Inspiring Innovation Award, presented by Nissan. The award recognizes organizations for making a difference for Nashville’s students and comes with a $5,000 grant.

FUTURO is a nonprofit that focuses on college success and professional development for Latino students between the ages of 18 and 27. It creates opportunities for leadership, career growth and civic engagement for students to attain degrees and employment.

BeWell in School is a nonprofit founded by Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher Riki Rattner. The nonprofit teaches mindfulness and movement as a proactive behavior management system to empower students, teachers and communities with tools to self-regulate. The organization’s programs are credited with reducing disciplinary issues in school while boosting teacher morale, increasing student engagement and improving test scores.

Finally, two Metro Nashville Public Schools teachers will be honored with the Annette Eskind Inspiring Educator Award, presented by UBS. Those teachers “demonstrated an incredible dedication to students through the unpredictable changes and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Each educator will receive $2,500, with $2,500 more going directly to their schools to support their work.

Jan Esterline started his career in the music industry, including his work as an elementary school music teacher. After spending some time in the hospitality industry in Nashville, he discovered a need and a passion for teaching English to Nashville’s growing immigrant community and returned to the classroom. After teaching Students with Interrupted Formal Education at Overton High School for several years, Esterline will teach math in the 2021-22 school year primarily to English Learner students who have recently exited SIFE or recently arrived in the United States.

Daven Oglesby began his career with MNPS as a substitute teacher before he became a paraprofessional and ultimately earned his teaching license through the Lipscomb University Educational Assistant Teaching Fellowship. Coming from a family of educators, he has found his calling working with students with disabilities and is a special education teacher at Lakeview Elementary Design Center.

In 2020, the program was changed from an in-person event to a virtual celebration in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s event will remain virtual as the city begins to return to moderate in-person gatherings. All are welcome to join NPEF to celebrate the Public Schools Hall of Fame online on Sept. 29.

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