School Spotlight: La Vergne High School

Feb 11, 2023 at 04:04 pm by WGNS

By GRAYSON LEE MAXWELL Rutherford County Schools

(La Vergne) Last year, 29 students from LaVergne High School earned their associate degree from Motlow Community College before graduating high school — an opportunity which will open to all students in Rutherford County during the 2023-2024 school year.  

“They are extremely high achievers,” said Hope Bakari, LaVergne High School assistant principal and director of the Early College at Motlow program. “That’s the best part of this. For kids who may or may not think they can even excel in college this gives them the atmosphere and the confidence to say, ‘oh, I can do this’.” 


LaVergne graduated its 100th student from the Early College at Motlow Program last year. To get started, students must meet the dual enrollment college admissions requirement of having a 3.0 GPA AND an ACT composite score of 20 or greater. Additionally, students will need to provide academic references to apply for enrollment. 

“Oftentimes I think they’ve heard a lot of ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘this score means this,’” said Theowauna Hatchett, principal at LaVergne High School. “Putting that expectation out there and showing students they can meet, if not exceed those expectations. That’s why I love this program and love that our kids get this opportunity.” 

What's offered through Motlow is not just a general education associate degree but a dynamic opportunity for students.  

“I’m looking at not just the fact that they’re engaged at the moment, but I’m looking at where they can potentially go,” said Bakari, “so they can reach their true potential. We know they’re brilliant, but often brilliant kids aren’t pushed enough to pursue anything.”  

While pursuing their associate degree, students are advancing their academic timeline by two years, but they are also sidestepping two years of tuition and other fees. Notably, freshman year can become one of the most expensive for students due to on-campus living requirements.  

“We don’t necessarily focus on saving money on your bachelor’s degree when encouraging students to join we don’t talk about it that much, but it is incredible how much money and time they’re saving,” said Bakari.  

Makieya Bush and Tatiana Torres are both seniors nearing graduation in the Early College program. Both started the program as juniors and have had an extremely positive experience in the program. 

“They treat us like actual college students,” said Torres. “It gives you a real perspective on how college is. I like the fact that the campus is a smaller campus, and you have that one-on-one with professors. It gives you an advantage than say, going to a bigger college like MTSU, where you have 50 students for one professor.” 

As their peers are entering college as freshman, students who graduate from the LaVergne High School’s Early College program will be ready to enter college as incoming juniors. 

“It saves a lot of time,” said Bush. “Two years of your life. Especially since I want to be a psychologist, specifically experimental and research based, and that is going to take a lot of time with a masters and doctorate degree. This program allows me to focus on the things I need to do later, and I won’t need to worry about my associate degree when I’ve already done that. I can focus on things that are related to my specific degree.”  

“I want to go into nursing,” said Torres. “So, it’s about five to six years to get my BSN. But with all my general education classes out of the way, I only must focus on maybe one or two classes my first semester then I go right into nursing. It’s nice to go into college and just dive into your actual career.”  

Students from LaVergne’s program have matriculated at schools across the country, including prestigious institutions such as Vanderbilt and Yale, but they’ve also been afforded opportunities at local institutions such as MTSU and local cosmetology schools.  

Early College at Motlow offers students who may find themselves bored or needing a greater challenge the chance to thrive. Restless learners who may not do well in a traditional high school classroom are getting the 1-1 challenge and support they need through Motlow professors.  

“Personally, I really like it because you get away from the distractions of high school but you’re not missing the high school experiences. I’m getting college experience and getting prepared for what’s to come next,” said Bush. “The classes are rigorous, but personally that’s what I needed. Especially as someone who, whenever you’re in class, you finish your work and you’re bored.”  

Currently, students can attend the Early College program and incur no tuition though future financial coverage is dependent on RCS budget approvals.  

“They’re well deserving and hard workers. You know the students in the program don’t just breeze through. It’s a lot of hard work, and this group of students has just done really well. I see them all as brilliant,” said Bakari.  

“They’re great kids,” said Hatchett. “Deserving. Smart. We miss seeing them on campus here, but they’re like a little family at Motlow. We’re glad we can provide this opportunity for them. We appreciate Rutherford County for funding it.” 

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