Living in a Smart Home

When my Council colleague, Mildred Sparkman, and I quietly walked up to the back door of the Harrington House on Stewarts Ferry Pike, the house already knew we were there. In a gentle and courteous voice, the house spoke to us and invited us inside. Mildred and I entered, a little cautiously – was this a prank, or a perilous scene in a horror movie? Neither, fortunately. It was just Kate Adams, Enabling Tech Champion for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), … [Read more...]

Hand in Hand: Preparing for a life well lived

In 2004, John Paul II High School embarked on an experiment: could students with intellectual disabilities attend school with typically-developing peers in a rigorous, Catholic scholastic environment, and not only co-exist on the same campus, but become fully immersed and accepted members of the school community? The answer must have been a resounding “yes”, because the program is still going strong and boasts a full roster of graduates, and a second Hand in Hand initiative is under way at … [Read more...]

Communicating with a Child That Does Not Speak, through Photography

Fifteen years ago, new mom Jen Vogus – now a parishioner at Holy Family Church in Brentwood – became concerned about her five-week-old son. “Aidan was a full-term baby,” said Vogus. “I had a normal birth. But shortly after he was born – Mother’s Day, 2002 – I was breastfeeding him and he started doing this eye twitch and lip pucker thing. It was odd, and I had never seen it before.” The family’s pediatrician confirmed that Aidan was having seizures. “It was devastating,” recalled Vogus. “And … [Read more...]

Cooking Up Helpings of Multi-cultural Cuisine and Community

When you think about eating sushi in Nashville, Father Ryan High School may not be the first place that comes to mind. But on a day in early January, the school cafeteria was brimming with at least 20 cooks, hundreds of seaweed squares, an imposing pile of scooped fresh avocado and assorted other ingredients. Welcome to the Father Ryan Cooking Club. Last August, Father Gervan – or Father G, as his adoring students call him - was approached by seniors Olivia Scruggs and Elliott Gild and … [Read more...]

Teaching is a Family Affair at Holy Rosary Academy

Courtney Schletzer and Kristin Schletzer Burnett have a lot in common, even for twin sisters. Besides growing up under the same roof, they attended Christ the King School, Father Ryan High School and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville together, frequently as students in the same classes. They’ve even been roommates most of their adult lives. Now they teach directly across the hall from each other at Holy Rosary Academy. “We are each other’s best friends and worst enemies,” laughed … [Read more...]

Catholic Charities Jobs Program Creates Sewing Training Academy

From all appearances, Nashville is the latest boom town. People of all ages are moving here, and rents and home prices reflect that. New businesses are opening up; in fact whole industries are blooming, seemingly overnight. All of this positive commotion has had an impact on Catholic Charities too, specifically its four-year old jobs training initiative for refugees, the unemployed, underemployed and underserved. To meet the needs of a burgeoning clothing industry, Catholic Charities has … [Read more...]

At 82, St. Bernard Alumna Releases 36th Book

While at St. Bernard Academy, Bernadette McCarver Snyder was in an oratorical contest and competed with an original speech. She won at the school and city levels, but then fell just short in the state finals. In her senior year, her reputation for being an excellent communicator landed her a co-editor position on the school newspaper. “We worked hard on that newspaper that year and we won this award from the State of Tennessee for being the best high school newspaper from a school our size,” … [Read more...]

Memorable Memoirs: Barbara Robinette Moss’s “Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter”

Change Me into Zeus's Daughter is an examination of the author’s youth; growing up verbally and physically abused by her alcoholic father, willing to risk eating poisoned corn to satiate her endless hunger, and sharing a ramshackle home with her mom and eight siblings in rural Alabama. Moss, with pitch perfect prose, describes a father who is gone more than around, which is mostly preferable given his propensity for inflicting pain: I had just turned seven years and didn’t think Dad’s … [Read more...]

Bullying prevention program begins at St. Bernard Academy

Ned Andrew Solomon This article first appeared in the Tennessee Register. When you walk into Hannah Dwyer’s fourth level classroom at St. Bernard Academy, your eyes are immediately drawn to the bright red posters on the wall. In bold black letters they read, “Bullying is unBEARable,” punctuated underneath by a bear’s claw – these are the St. Bernard Academy Bears, after all. The claw is followed by a set of four rules, which are the cornerstones of the school’s brand new anti-bullying … [Read more...]

Accident survivor comforts others through their traumas

By Ned Andrew Solomon This article first appeared in The Tennessee Register. When Brittany Leedham visits with patients and families at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Trauma Center, she brings a unique perspective. Three years ago, Leedham was a patient there herself, having barely survived a car accident in Brentwood that killed her boyfriend, Zak Kerinuk. Leedham, who graduated from Father Ryan High School in May 2009, volunteers as a Peer Visitor with the Trauma Survivors … [Read more...]