The Nashville Prep Fellowship

Nashville Prep Fellows tackle everything from lunch distribution to guided reading.  The Fellowship attracts dynamic, flexible, hard-working and detail-oriented leaders who wish to gain tangible experience in a game-changing school.  Fellows are on the front line, putting in long and valuable hours with our students and staff.  One past fellow was hired for our staff, another was accepted into Teach of America and another is pursuing founding a Charter School. 

The position involves a five to six month commitment and includes a modest stipend.  We are currently hiring for the following Fellowships:

  • Summer Fellow (June 2015 – August 2015)
  • Fall Fellow (August 2015 – December 2015)
  • Spring Fellow (January 2016 – May 2016)

Meet Our Current and Former Fellows

Sujeet Rao (NP Fellow, Summer 2011)  

Sujeet received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2009 and his B.B.A. from the University of Michigan Business School in 2004. Before law school he worked on the successful reelection campaign of then-Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2006. And in 2008 he served as a regional Get-Out-The-Vote coordinator in Ohio for the Obama campaign. After law school, Mr. Rao worked in the office of the Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools, where he helped develop and implement short- and long-term institutional reform strategies for a large urban public school district. Prior to joining Nashville Prep, he was a Litigation Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of the international law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where he worked primarily in the Political Law and Appellate practice groups. 

Emily Marsh (NP Fellow, Fall/Winter 2011)

Emily Marsh was a Fellow at Nashville Prep in 2011-12. She graduated in May 2011 from American University where she received a B.A. in International Relations. Emily recently completed internships at Generation Rwanda and Human Rights Watch, and spent her last semester participating in an international peace and conflict resolution field practicum to Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey. Additionally, Emily spent this past summer as the Assistant House Manager at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in her hometown of Garrison, NY.  She is currently a member of the Teach for America 2012 Corps in New York City and is teaching at Democracy Prep Endurance Middle School. 

Job Placements Post Fellowship

  • Sujeet Rao (Summer 2011):  U.S. Department of Education
  • Emily Marsh (Fall 2011):  Democracy Prep Public School
  • Sam Garrett (Spring 2012):  Cumberland Consulting Group
  • Jessica Hill (Summer 2012):  Tennessee Charter School Association
  • Amy Estepp (Fall 2012):  Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Kelly Handschumacher (Fall 2012): Columbia University Law School
  • Catherine Olson (Fall 2012-Spring 2013): Nashville Prep Charter School
  • Eric Austin (Spring 2013): Teach for America Nashville
  • Dana McGarty (Spring-Summer 2013): Nashville Prep Charter School

Fellow Q&A

1) What made you apply to become a NP Fellow?


I've been interested in education reform for some time, and I had been looking for a more organized, sustained, and productive way to channel that passion. I was spending a lot of time reading books and articles about education policy and charter schools, talking to friends and family members that work in education, and thinking about how I could help improve the opportunities of those that stood to benefit the most from a good education. When I learned of the opportunity to serve as a Nashville Prep Fellow, I thought: Why not dive in head first and really get involved? 

The idea of helping to start a charter school was particularly exciting because it offered the chance to work in a start-up environment that thrived on entrepreneurial thinking. How many people would have the chance to pour their heart and soul into an idea and a project that had the potential to change the lives of so many students?


I was inclined to apply for the fellowship because I had been very curious about what education reform actually looked like. It is one of those buzz words you hear often, and I knew that working at a first year charter school would be a great way to find out about this movement.  As well as to see if there was any place for this kind of work in my future. Turns out, there is! I now cannot imagine doing anything else.

2) What was the most exciting part of being a Fellow?


The most exciting part of being a Fellow was interacting with the students and their families. I had the opportunity to meet virtually all of our students' family members, and also visited many of them in their homes. Developing relationships with the people that would comprise the Nashville Prep community really underscored the importance of the work we did. It helped us learn about and anticipate some of the challenges our students face, which also helped us devise ways to address those challenges.


The most exciting part of being a fellow was every moment spent interacting with the kids, which lucky for me was quite often!

3) What was the most challenging aspect of being a Fellow?


Each day at Nashville Prep presented new challenges or pressing issues that needed to be resolved. Accordingly, I had to make a conscious effort to keep one eye on the big picture and make sure long-term tasks were getting done in the face of short-term demands on my time and energy. Candidly, my track record on this front was mixed.

Second, I was (and am) very invested in the school and the culture we were building. And so, more than any other job I've had, the setbacks and disappointments (and inevitably, there were some of these) really had the potential to hit me hard, personally. While that was certainly challenging, it also is what made my experience at Nashville Prep so meaningful and memorable.


The most challenging aspect of being a fellow was the early start, but that is to be expected. I adjusted! 

4) Describe a typical day at NP


We started our days with early morning staff meetings, which set the tone (as well as my to-do list) for the day. Beyond that, little was typical or repetitive. On any given day, I could be meeting with parents and families, looking at possible sites to build new school buildings, working with our Board of Directors to plan and organize fundraisers, and running our summer math tutoring program.  At the same time, I would often find myself revising and updating our numerous databases, compiling binders of professional development material for our teachers, and various other, more administrative tasks. I saw myself as a utility player--someone that could pitch in wherever I was needed. In other words, my formal job description was that I had no formal job description.


A typical day for me at Nashville Prep always, always, always began with coffee. It was critical that I had a full pot ready for the staff by 7AM. On a more serious note, the rest of the day continued with homework checking, bathroom hustling, Band-Aid distributing, hallway monitoring, book club administering and anything else that needed to be done. This position requires flexibility, and I made sure I remained as such. When it comes to kids you never know what to expect! 

5) What was the most rewarding part of being a Fellow?


The most rewarding part of being a Fellow was being part of a team that built something meaningful from scratch. If all goes according to plan, we will have built a school that changes the lives of those that come through its doors. That sounds corny, but it really is true. Through all of the long hours and hard work, that ideal is what kept me going and keeps me optimistic about the future! 


When you take on an experience like a fellowship it can go one of two ways: you can rule the job out as something you know is not for you, or you can come to the realization that this is where you belong, and doing anything else is unfathomable. I can honestly say that I am in the latter category. The most rewarding parts of being a fellow were those moments where I could see the impact this school is making, and they were frequent. Whether it was the transformation of people that I had the fortune to witness every day, or more specifically those Book Club sessions where the entire class was 100% engaged in my discussion—the list goes on and on. I would not trade this experience for the world. Since working at Nashville Prep I can confidently say that I do not want to be anywhere else but in education. Period.

How many people would have the chance to pour their heart and soul into an idea and a project that had the potential to change the lives of so many students.
— Sujeet Rao