President Obama praises education success at Metro high school - WSMV Channel 4

President Obama praises education success at Metro high school

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Two days after delivering the State of the Union address in Washington, President Barack Obama visited Nashville on Thursday to highlight the work being done at a Metro high school.

The visit by Obama was the first non-campaign stop by a sitting president to Nashville since President George W. Bush spoke at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in July 2007.

Obama said he chose to speak at McGavock High School because it is an example of what is right with America's schools.

"I've been planning to come for some time because you've made great strides," Obama said to the assembled crowd that included McGavock students, school officials and local dignitaries.

Obama said the academy programs at McGavock give the students a reason to be excited about education.

"The idea is simple but powerful. Young people will do better if they are excited about learning," the president said.

Obama highlighted the broadcast and mass communication academy as one that gives students real-world experiences to prepare them for a career while still in the classroom. He even praised McGavock teacher Barclay Randall for the work he does with his students.

Randall said he was thrilled to be mentioned by the president and to have his program in the spotlight.

"I really do believe in the career academies. I absolutely do. I've been out in the world before I came here to teach broadcasting for years and years, and I can't imagine teaching it another way," Randall said.

Obama said he wants to see other schools follow in McGavock's steps.

Among the items the president emphasized in his education speech was better pay for teachers.

"They [teachers] are the most important ingredient in our school," Obama said. "We need to give them the support and pay they need."

He also renewed his call for Congress to fund an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, and touted his pledge to ensure almost all students have access to high-speed internet.

"I want to build on what works. But to do that, we've got to reach more kids, and we've got to do it faster," Obama said.

Former Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean were among the many political officials in attendance.

The president's visit came two days after a McGavock student was allegedly shot and killed by a classmate at a Hermitage apartment.

Kaemon Robinson, 17, is charged with criminal homicide following the shooting that killed 15-year-old Kevin Barbee.

Witnesses told police Robinson was playing with a pistol when it discharged and hit Kevin in the face.

Obama met with the family of Kevin prior to his remarks at McGavock High School, but further details of their meeting were not released.

The president began his remarks at McGavock by offering his and the first lady's condolences, calling the shooting "heartbreaking."

"The past couple days have been hard and tested people's spirits," he said. "Some of you have lost a good friend. So I wanted you to know that Michelle and I have been praying for all of you in the community."

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