LEAD Public Schools opened LEAD Southeast Middle School (LSEM) in 2013, responding to the need for personalized and high-quality instruction in South Nashville and Antioch neighborhoods. The school has a diverse student population, welcoming students from 28 countries, and a strong school spirit where Lobos – the school’s mascot, meaning “wolves” in Spanish – rule.
Principal Tom Schoen first started as a fifth- and seventh-grade English language arts teacher at LSEM nine years ago. From there, he served as a grade-level chair, content leader, instructional coach, and director of literacy for the network before becoming the principal at LSEM in the 2022-23 school year.
One of the aspects of his school that Principal Schoen is most proud of is how everyone belongs to the pack.
“If you ask students and staff, the overwhelming description of LSEM is ‘familial,’” said Schoen. “No matter who you are, you are welcomed into the Lobos family.”
Rachel Bergin has been at LSEM for seven years, where she has taught fifth-grade science and Tier 1 intervention. For Bergin, the uniqueness of LEAD Southeast lies in the palpable hunger for excellence.
“On any given day you will see teachers, admins, and students reflecting on their progress through data and observation and setting goals for themselves and each other,” said Bergin. “This might look like a student setting a personal academic goal for the quarter with her CREW teacher, a pair of co-teachers designing a reteach based on exit ticket data, or a team of admins handing out pizza at lunch for the cohort with the best attendance!”
“My students have taught me SO much about the world through their diverse experiences, and they do it with smiles, quirks, and endless curiosity that inspires me.” – Rachel Bergin, Teacher at LEAD Southeast Middle.
A unique aspect about the campus at LSEM is that it was designed as an office complex, so all the classrooms have floor-to-ceiling window walls. Many of the class transitions happen outside on breezeways. “This adds a fun fresh dimension!” said Bergin.
Mina Dawood, a seventh-grade student at LEAD Southeast Middle, recognizes the value of the diverse school culture that his school intentionally fosters.
“What makes LEAD Southeast Middle School unique is that there is a diverse student population from kids around the world and they are all welcomed no matter their skin color, gender, race, culture, and ethnicity.” – Mina Dawood, Seventh Grader at LEAD Southeast Middle.
“Also, at LEAD Southeast Middle School they provide lots of clubs which help us find things we enjoy,” added Dawood. Dawood plans to pursue a future career in the medical field, and his time at LEAD Southeast Middle is supporting his efforts to achieve his goals.
As LEAD Southeast follows its mission to create a safe, joyful, and productive classroom environment, the school is also committed to ensuring that each and every student knows they are part of the diverse and ambitious pack. With the ongoing leadership and dedication of staff members like Schoen and Bergin, LEAD Southeast remains a place where students are set up to thrive as they enter high school and beyond.
For more information about LEAD Southeast Middle School, please visit: https://leadpublicschools.org/schools/se-middle/.