Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Creating Together: Lessons from our Original Generals

It has been an honor to serve our first four year graduating class at TNHS. As we look back at the amazing growth within our community we wanted to share some of the most important lessons we have taken from our Original Generals - the class of 2016. 

Culture is King: CARE Comes First 
While our class of 2016 was wildly successful academically (ranking TNHS in the top 10% in the state), their modeling of CARE for each other and our school far exceeds anything else they achieved. From the beginning we focused on building a culture with our students that would provide for authentic care and connection with each other. As adults, we referenced the often coined term "Culture is King" regularly and focused our energy there from day one. Our Original Generals proved this adage to be absolutely true! At the same time, we have learned that authentic culture isn't created overnight. It takes students, parents, and teachers working together over time to create a school. By the end of their four year tenure our Original Generals have initiated organizations, rituals, and traditions that we could not imagine prior to the opening of TNHS. They did this through sustained CARE and commitment over time. 

Growth = Change
Each of the past four years our Original Generals have embraced growth through change. While we have naturally grown in size (from 520 students to 720), we have also created additional responsibilities and opportunities for our students each year. This change came in the form of new courses, programs, and people to support their future story goals as we learned each year how to best support our students. Change also came in the form of increasingly higher expectations for academic achievement and behavioral non-negotiables. We work to "coolify" achievement at TNHS and we feel confident that we have made immense progress towards that goal. To this end, a remarkable bi-product of our growth came within our student's increased expectations for each other. As they found individual success, they expected more from each other. Achievement is contagious! In the end, creating a school is collective task. Growth demands small incremental changes over time. Over the past four years our students have experienced immense growth by continually embracing such change. 

The Answer to How is Yes
One of the primary TNHS mantras in the fall of 2012 was "The Answer to How is Yes." From T-shirts to signage, YES was the word that inspired our work. Take a look at our Facebook Page and you will find the word "Yes" used consistently to reinforce a sense of pride and community over the past four years. "The Answer to How is Yes" simply means that your belief is the most important aspect of your success. If you believe you can, then you can. Say "Yes" first, then you figure out how. If there is no yes, everything else is irrelevant.

To this end, our Original Generals continued to say "yes" with our team of teachers. They believed not only in their individual future story goals, but also in the future story of our school. They believed that anything was possible, if... they put their nose to the grind and worked together. They embraced a growth mindset that would allow them to be successful beyond what we could have imagined. Over 98% of our Original Generals graduated in four years, over 95% were college and/or career ready, and most importantly, we felt like 100% of our graduates walked across the stage proud of their school. 

Everyone LEADs
In schools and in education at large we can sometimes get caught up in this program or that program to solve your challenges. In contrast, our Original Generals have worked with our teachers to build from the ground up! We have not taken prescriptive programs, but rather created something that is uniquely ours. From curriculum design, to the TNHS Student Organization Council and the Athletic Legacy Core Teams we have created together to build living systems and connections that work for our community. We have observed that you cannot take most programs in one place and make them work in the same way for another community. It is essential that the community that will be utilizing the program, has its hands in creating it. Class of 2016 - thank you for being a courageous, remarkable, fearless group of world changers that make our world a better place! We are proud of you and want you to know that there is always a place for you at Thomas Nelson. Here's to continuing to LEAD together. Yes. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Connect, CARE, and Create App

Connect, CARE, Create

We are excited to bring the TNHS App to you live on the App store. The App is designed to align directly to the three components of our House Team Model - Connect, Care, and Create. 

CONNECT - Through intentional planning we lay a foundation for deep relationships to develop between members of our community. Through these partnerships our students experience academic and social success.

CARE - We believe in choosing the common good over what benefits one. Our House Structure provides a sense of stability, structure, and a deep seated belonging for all students, LEADERs, and Parents at Thomas Nelson High School.

CREATE -  By asking the question “What do we want to create together” we redefine the traditional model of school culture, creating new opportunities for shared ownership, LEADERship, and service.


Monday, February 22, 2016

February 2016: Parent CAREbook


       We know that for our community to continue to grow we must sustain meaningful parent engagement. Developing our CAREbook for students has become an important annual cultural ritual for students and staff. Now we are working to develop a CAREbook for parent engagement. Please help us make it awesome by watching this short video and sharing your ideas below. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 2016 - Going Global

Check out this short video led by our Global Ambassador Pedro Estrella to learn more about opportunities in the coming year to explore the globe!

Click here to see how Dylan Wilburn and Grace Calhoun are helping to initiate the Rafiki bracelet project at TNHS supporting education in Kenya. Click here to support!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 2015: Feast of Thanks

An essential part of our work at TNHS is honoring the gifts within our community. As we move into the Thanksgiving holidays we that ask that you consider a student or staff member at TNHS as a way to celebrate!


We are excited to invite our community into our school on Monday, November 23rd for our first annual Feast of Thanks. We have community members from across the county joining our students at their House Tables to give thanks. Click on the video above for further insight. 

For questions or further insight about the event email Mr. Webster at 

Parent Educator Team: We Need You!
Image result for beyond the bake saleAs the Thomas Nelson General Hand Parent team continues to develop the vision for "Partnership" we are seeking 4 parent volunteers to join the Parent Educator Team. This team will be working together to make amazing happen over the next five months! We will begin by sharing notes and ideas from this book.  

Please email Mr. Bradley at to learn more.  We already have one parent signed up! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

The General: September 2015 Issue

As our school community has grown over the past three years, so has the notion of student LEADERship. This year, we have no fewer than 75 students serving in active leadership roles within their schedules beyond the traditional classroom each day. This brief video highlights leadership roles across the 

Celebrating TELL Kentucky Winners Circle Award: Excellence in Culture, Achievement, and Safety
We are excited to celebrate with our team of classroom LEADERs are nomination as one of the top schools in the state for Culture, Achievement, and School Safety. To find out more about the TELL Kentucky Winners Circle click here. Check out our remarkable House LEADERs below. 
(From Left to Right) Mrs. Nokes, Mr. Hammond, Mrs. Cornish, Mr. Mudd

Monday, July 27, 2015

The General - July 2015 Want to Make a Difference?

Want to Make a Difference?
As we continue to pursue college, career, and citizenship readiness for all students we are recognize the powerful role that parents must play in that process. Beginning for the 2015-2016 school year we are establishing a "House Parent" Team that will develop a vision for partnerships based on the following principles. 

1. We are a local site of CARE - the notion that it takes a village is never more evident than in a school. We must all CARE for our community and our children. 
2. We all have GIFTS to offer - our school needs your gifts as a parent and community member. Our House LEADERs will partner with you to sustain community connections. 
3. Together We Can Change the World - our parents and our community has the resources, personal connections, and heart to change the world for the better. House parents help facilitate and communicate the process and opportunities to do so. 

Interested? - email Mr. Bradley at 

Every parent will receive a free gift card upon entering our B2SB. All that you have to do is fill it out and share your gifts. If you drop it in the gift jar you will be in a drawing for free TNHS gear! 

Check out how some of our first ever citizenship ready students are changing the world from the class of 2015!