Templeton Blog

Kalee’s Original Templeton Academy Application

[fa icon="calendar"] 7/18/19 11:29 AM / by Kalee Barbis

Kalee Barbis

kalee-barbis-headshotWhy is this the right location for the next Templeton Academy?

Nashville is a city of both tradition and innovation as a leader in the music, healthcare, hospitality, and tech industries. Nashville’s rapid growth brings a hundred new people to the city each day. While the city is making sweeping changes to embrace the city’s growth and  innovation- one field has remained stagnant- education. According to US News, Tennessee ranks 37th in high school rankings in 2017. Nashville’s public schools rank an average ACT Score of 18.7. Nashville parents are forced to choose between terrible public schools and elite, expensive private schools. With Templeton’s commitment to making private school affordable, parents can choose another model that reflects values important to the city. Templeton’s mission, “to transform the lives of its students by providing highly individualizes, dynamic and experiential education in small classes with dedicated and skilled educators” offers parents an education alternative that reflects their values.  While Nashville may not have been able to sustain an experiential education model like this ten years ago, the city’s focus on innovation makes this an incredible fit for students to really explore the city while learning.

Why are you the right person to open and lead the next Templeton Academy?

Templeton is committed to the community. From small class sizes to personalization, the school is about creating an experience for students and their families. These core values and graduate profile reflect my personal values. In 2014, I began working on the charter for Washington Leadership Academy in DC while getting a masters in public policy from Vanderbilt. Within that charter, we imagined not just what school can be- but what it should be. Built on relationships and restorative practices, our school personalizes the academic experience- meeting students where they are and highlighting choice within the classroom. As the assistant principal, I am constantly thinking about how we can meet students needs while raising expectations. Prior to being the assistant principal, I served as the founding English teacher and Director of Curriculum, coaching five other teachers. Our students scored in the 99th percentile for MAP growth in Reading and 70% of our students were proficient (3+) on PARCC with 44% of students scoring a four or higher. I love our model, our school, and our kids. In DC, parents get so many choices from traditional schools to charter schools to private schools of all price points. In Nashville, parents are limited. Growing up outside the city, teaching at a traditional public school, moving to a charter school, working at the state level for the department of education and a bipartisan lobbying group, I have experienced Nashville’s education system. Nashville’s education landscape forces parents to choose between public school and expensive private schools. Of those private schools, there are few responding to the city’s growth and no schools reflect the city’s emphasis on innovation. My experiences as an educator and Nashville native make me the right person to bring this model to Tennessee.   Templeton’s model stands out for its focus on relationships, personalization, and experiential learning.

What motivates you to love learning?

The students- and those relationships- are why I love learning. There is an incredible moment where a student grasps content and makes it their own. Facilitating that moment is why I love learning. There is science and art that creates that beautiful moment. I love watching this moment happen with students in the classroom or teachers in a coaching meeting. Crafting that moment is the best part of my job. In order to craft that seemingly magic moment, I will listen to podcasts, read books, explore educational tools, and continue to learn more.

Interested in learning more about Templeton Academy's philosophy and the future of education? Check out our full digital resource for parents and students — The 2030 High School Graduate: Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's World.

Explore the Resource

Topics: careers of the future, private educaton, Nashville

Kalee Barbis

About Kalee Barbis

Kalee is the founding Head of School for Templeton Academy in Nashville. Kalee is a Nashville native with a decade of educational experience. Educated at the University of Tennessee, Lipscomb, and Vanderbilt Universities. Kalee is deeply committed to personalized, experiential education. She has a strong track record in developing relationships with students and teachers, and cultivating a student-centered classroom. Kalee spent the past three years in Washington DC, founding Washington Leadership Academy, an XQ Super School focused on reimagining high school, as the assistant principal. Prior to that, Kalee taught in Nashville for six years. She is excited to return home to bring BTA to the city.

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Blyth-Templeton Academy voted a top DC high school for 2018 by readers of the Washington City Paper