Students Take Responsibility for Learning at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School When Reverend Jay Hartley visited his oldest son at college this past school year, he heard the kind of feedback just about any parent would want. through demanding courses of study, while picking up values that encourage lifelong learning and independent ownership of their progress. At lunch with one of his son’s engineering professors, Rev. Hartley – parent of three past and present students of 2015 SCORE Prize finalist school Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School in Nashville (MLK) – learned that it can be hard to predict how young people will fare as college freshmen. The professor told Rev. Hartley that even the best of students can be distracted by everything available in college. “We try not to let them fly under the radar or accept mediocrity. I think the majority of our students rise to that expectation,” said Christopher Dowlen, an MLK teacher and chair of the school’s English department. “We try to put them in situations and circumstances where they have to have autonomy, they have to have choice, they have to grapple and feel uncomfortable. I think that’s key.” This hadn’t been an issue for Rev. Hartley’s son, the professor told him. “He’s able to focus and do everything,” Rev. Hartley said. “I think MLK is definitely a part in that.” MLK builds high expectations and rigor into every facet of student life. Students are well supported 35 As a public academic magnet school within Metro Nashville Public Schools, students must meet academic requirements in order to qualify for MLK. Typically, this includes a grade average that is 85 or above, no failing grades, and TCAP scores that are “proficient” or “advanced.” MLK serves students in grades 7 through 12, with 800 students in the high school grades.