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Director of Schools

Dr. Jesse Register Jesse Register, Ed.D., is nationally recognized for his work in urban education reform. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to serving the students and teachers in Metro Nashville Public Schools, the nation’s 41st largest school district with more than 83.000 students.
Career highlights include

  • leading the transformation of Metro Nashville Public Schools and moving the district from being threatened with state takeover due to low performance to the second highest achievement category in 2013, placing it in the top third of Tennessee school districts.
  • serving as senior advisor for district leadership for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University,
  • overseeing the successful merger of Hamilton County Schools and Chattanooga City Schools,
  • consulting on urban education reform,
  • working as a visiting associate professor for Urban Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and
  • serving on the national support team that developed the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy for the State of Arkansas.

Since 2009, Dr. Register has served as director (superintendent) of Metro Nashville Public Schools, a diverse urban district serving students from 140 nations who speak almost as many languages. The district has 153 schools, including 17 charter schools. In August 2013, the Nashville Board of Education unanimously approved a strategic plan, Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student,that sets ambitious goals for the district with the aim of becoming the nation’s top-performing urban school district. He has been a key advocate for Tennessee’s successful $500 million Race to the Top application, for immigration reform to better serve students and for the Common Core State Standards in Tennessee.

Previously, he was a senior advisor for District Leadership for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, consulting with school leaders and districts across the country on issues of district redesign, high school reform, improving urban education, and leading change in school districts. He was also a member of the district redesign team at the Annenberg Institute.

Dr. Register was a visiting associate professor for Urban Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he taught in the master’s, EDS and EDD programs in the area of educational leadership. He joined the faculty in the fall of 2007.

Before that, he was the first superintendent of Hamilton County Schools after the 1997 merger of Hamilton County Schools and the Chattanooga Public Schools. He successfully led the unification of these systems for 10 years until his retirement in July 2006. The merged district consists of 40,000 students and 79 schools.

As superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, Dr. Register was instrumental in the successful merger of two unique school systems. Chattanooga Public Schools was an urban, high poverty, and predominately minority school district of 20,000 students. Hamilton County Schools was a suburban and rural middle class district of 21,000 mostly Caucasian students. At the time of merger, the local governance structure was changed by state law, making Register the first school board appointed superintendent of the county system.

Prior to his work in Hamilton County, Dr. Register was superintendent of two districts in North Carolina. He was the first superintendent of the merged Iredell-Statesville Schools in North Carolina, assuming that position to implement the merger of the Iredell County and Statesville City Schools in July 1991. Iredell-Statesville was a unified district of 16,000 students and 29 schools.

Before that, he was superintendent of the Cabarrus County Schools in North Carolina, having previously worked as a principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and assistant superintendent for administration. Register began his career in education as an English teacher.

Bachelor’s degree in English, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Master’s degree in education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Advanced School Administrator’s certificate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Doctorate in Education Administration, Duke University
Superintendent’s Executive Program, University of North Carolina
Change Leadership Program (three years), Harvard University

Early milestones Dr. Register helped Hamilton County Schools reach after merger included:

  • the development of a comprehensive pupil assignment plan, which led to the voluntary resolution of a U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights complaint filed by the Chattanooga Board of Education against the Hamilton County Board of Education;
  • the receipt of the first of three U.S. Department of Education magnet school grants that would eventually total in excess of $20 million;
  • the adoption of a comprehensive facilities development plan that resulted in the construction of more than $100 million in new construction and renovations to district buildings; and
  • the development of a nationally recognized team and strategy for low-performing urban schools, known as the Benwood Initiative.

Since joining Metro Nashville Public Schools early in 2009, Dr. Register has initiated a comprehensive district-wide transformation plan, MNPS Achieves: First to the Top. Through MNPS Achieves, some 200 community leaders, public school parents and district staff worked in a Transformational Leadership Group. These volunteers worked to improve the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students, students learning English, and students with special needs. They worked to improve high schools and middle schools and to ensure the district’s infrastructure supports the transformation process by changing informational technology and data management, central office effectiveness, communications and human capital systems. Education 2018: Excellence for Every Student continues the district’s transformation begun in 2009.

In 2012 and 2013, the district reached the “intermediate” level under Tennessee district accountability standards after years in the lower rungs under Tennessee’s previous No Child Left Behind standards.  To earn the status--the second highest accountability category-- the district showed growth in student achievement. The district continues its steady improvement against Tennessee’s performance standards that are now considered the second toughest in the nation.

September 20, 2013

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