In our continuing series celebrating Brentwood’s 50th anniversary, today we are writing about Ravenwood High School.
Opening its doors in 2002, Ravenwood High School was named after former Tennessee Governor and Secretary of State Sam Houston, also known as “The Raven” by the Cherokee Indians. Houston was the best friend of the builders of Ravenswood Mansion, James Hazard Wilson II, and his wife, Emeline. While named after the 19th century statesman, the school is totally modern with seven computer labs, ten science labs, and an up-to-date television production facility.
“We were built to alleviate the overcrowding at Brentwood High School,” said Pam Vaden, principal of Ravenwood High School. “We opened our doors … with 523 freshmen and sophomores, … [I]n 2015, we grew to a student population of 2130. [The school] was built for 1680 students. Our student population now is 1677.”
Ravenwood High School offers 21 different Advanced Placement courses. They place a lot of emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with pathways in Nursing, Bio-Medical Science, and Advanced Placement Computer Science.
“We are quickly becoming known for medicine and engineering,” said Vaden.
Vaden is proud of their Fine Arts Department as well. Ravenwood excels in theater, choral, instrumental, and the visual arts. Their school offers a state-of-the-art media center and a full production theater with seating for 450.
The school has also developed a standout athletic program.
“It was a storybook tale when we won our first State Football Championship in 2005,” said Vaden. “Those athletes that were among the founding [students] of the school laid the groundwork and foundation of the outstanding program we have today. I have toyed with the idea of writing a screenplay to tell the story of those young men who decided to come to Ravenwood High School. It all came together in such a magical way – we still talk and reminisce about it.”
Looking back over her years as principal of the school, Vaden has seen Ravenwood be recognized with a National Blue-Ribbon Award of Excellence in 2015. Greatschools.com rates them a nine out of 10, and notes that they are” far above the state average in key measures of college and career readiness.”
“We credit that success with the way we do business at [the school],” said Vaden. “We are a collaborative high school, working in same-subject teams that ensure that each student is exposed to the same curriculum. The [Ravenwood] teachers were empowered in 2007 and 2008 by the Williamson County School Board [of Education] to pilot Power Mondays. They paved the way for collaboration in [the county]. Before that, teachers taught in isolation. Students excelled based on the teacher assigned to them. In a collaborative high school, … all students are exposed to the same curriculum and assessments. This speaks to equity for all students.”
While they have a wonderful community, they do see students who find it difficult to function in a typical school day. They either have challenges with anxiety, or they have social-emotional needs.
“We are exploring ways to implement restorative practices with [these] students,” said Vaden, “in order to help them cope with our ever-changing world.”
As the school progresses with their collaboration platform, Vaden and her staff are eager to give students more power in their own growth. They will be implementing a 35-minute time-slot during the school day wherein students can choose tutoring or enrichment with one of their teachers.
“This personal student learning time will be called RISE,” said Vaden, “and I hope its successful!”