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Hey teachers: Know a stellar colleague in his/her third year of teaching? Then tell him/her about the Teacher Leadership Institute.

The Institute gives teachers chances for career and leadership development without having to leave the classroom. It's a year-long program of classes, collaboration, retreats and more where highly motivated teachers can learn all new skills and better their classrooms, their schools and the entire district.

So if you are a teacher and know colleagues who could benefit from this oppotunity,
send them to MyMNPS and tell them to apply!


Nashvillians of the Year Cover Photo

Cover courtesy of The Nashville Scene and photographer Michael W. Bunch

What a way to end 2012.

Two teachers in Metro Schools have been named
Nashvillians of the Year by the Nashville Scene. Adam Taylor of Overton High School and Christina McDonald of Nashville Prep Charter School represent the teachers who "give Nashville's schoolchildren, no matter what their background, a fighting chance to reach their brightest future."

 In a lengthy and detailed article, reporter Steven Hale lays out the bare - and sometimes forgotten - fact in our city's current debate over education: whether charter school or district school, great teachers are at the center of great education.

It's a great piece, and I strongly recommend you take a few moments to read the full article so you can see how teachers like Christina and Adam can bring the focus of the education discussion back where it belongs.

The Scene would like to refocus the discussion of public education not on differences and squabbles, but on the enormous asset that charter and public schools have in common: the teachers who are the most active, direct agents of hope Nashville's children will face outside the home. As our 2012 Nashvillians of the Year, the Scene honors two such instructors: one from a charter school, Christina McDonald at Nashville Prep, and one from a traditional Metro district school, Adam Taylor at Overton High.

They are hardly alone. Space does not permit us to list the many outstanding district and charter teachers who slug it out in Nashville's trenches throughout the school year, fighting the shared enemies of poverty, hunger, troubled home lives, behavioral problems, language barriers, bad outside influences and limited resources. But McDonald and Taylor are sterling examples of what can be accomplished by creative thinking, supportive administrators, and sheer determination. To look inside their classrooms is to see small miracles happen every day — and to see a brighter future for Nashville schoolchildren of all races and backgrounds than statistics sometimes let us hope.

Read the full article here.


Two of Metro’s finest are taking their lessons learned on the road! Frankie Harris, 6th grade literacy and social studies teacher at Rose Park Middle Magnet, and Kathleen Turnmire, English teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School, are two of Tennessee’s newly named Reward School Ambassadors. They will spend the next year traveling the midstate region, sharing best practices with neighboring schools and working to boost student achievement across the board.

Harris and Turnmire both earned top scores on Tennessee’s new evaluation system and were subsequently nominated by their schools -- both Reward Schools which means they are among the top 10 percent of Tennessee schools in terms of student performance. They are two of just 15 teachers across the state selected for this prestigious post.   

In addition to the year-long paid position as Reward School Ambassadors, Harris and Turnmire will also receive a $20,000 grant to further their educational programming.

When asked about her new role, Turnmire commented, "As an ambassador, I will be able to combine the teaching skills I have honed at MLK with the leadership skills I developed through Metro's TLI. I am thankful to have the opportunity to collaborate with educators across the state who are passionate about helping students meet their academic potential. Metro has given me a rich set of educational tools, and I am proud to share these skills with my fellow teachers in Middle Tennessee. Additionally, I am thankful for the support and guidance of my colleagues and administrators at MLK over the past five years; I would not be in this position without them!


Hey art teachers! The Nossi College of Art has something for you.

Help them design a new tote bag and you could win $500 in art supplies for your classroom.

Full details:

Nossi College of Art believes an arts education is important for all high school students. Because of this, Nossi is hosting Art Makes Cent$, a contest open to all Middle Tennessee art teachers! Win and you will receive a Nossi College of Art goody bag plus a $500 gift card to Plaza Art Materials to help buy art supplies for your classroom.

  • During the 2012/2013 school year, admissions rep Gerald Graves will be contacting Middle Tennessee high school art teachers to participate in Art Makes Cent$.

  • Art teachers should design their Nossi recycled bag, take a picture of the finished design and send the picture to Libby Funke, LFunke@nossi.edu, before March 15, 2013.

  • Photos will be posted to Facebook on March 25, 2013. The contest will run for 2 weeks. Fans from Nossi College of Art’s Facebook page will be asked to vote on their favorite design. The teacher with the most ‘likes’ will receive a $500 gift card to Plaza Art Materials. Use this money to buy art supplies for your classroom!

Want to make sure you receive a Nossi recycled bag? Contact Gerald to schedule a visit with your classroom!

615/514.2787 or GGraves@nossi.edu


The Middle Tennessee Reading Association is the local council affiliate of the Tennessee Reading Association. Several Metro School teachers hold positions with the association.

  • Angel Viera, literacy coach at J.E. Moss Elementary, has been named the 2012-2013 President-Elect of the Tennessee Reading Association.

  • Melanie Collins, teacher at Bordeaux Enhanced Option Elementary, assumed the office of Vice President of the Tennessee Reading Association for the 2012-2013 school term. Collins will become President-Elect during the 2013-2014 school year. She is also serving as Middle Tennessee Reading Association treasurer.

  • Sandra Smith-Hitt, teacher at Robert Churchwell Elementary, will serve as the 2012-2013 Treasurer of the Tennessee Reading Association.

  • Anita Armstrong, literacy coach at Cole Elementary, is serving Tennessee Reading Association as the 2012-2013 Recording Secretary.

  • Holly Perez, teacher at Donelson Middle School, is the president of Middle Tennessee Reading Association for 2012-2013.

  • Jana Crosby is the new state coordinator for the Tennessee Reading Association charged with overseeing and planning many activities for our association.

  • Eileen Steeples of Robert Churchwell is serving as membership chair for Middle Tennessee Reading Association.


Nine Metro Schools educators, including teachers and coordinators, took a ride with Sally Ride Science Academy sponsored by ExxonMobil. Through this program, each teacher will learn new and innovative strategies to help raise student interest in science subjects and careers.

Congratulations to the following teachers selected for the Academy:

  • Nicole Kloor-Janz, Maxwell Elementary

  • Hildateri Parks, Lakeview Elementary

  • Amanda Sheaffer, Tom Joy Elementary

  • Shauntel Jennings, Isaac Litton Middle

  • Stephanie Lankford, McMurray Middle

  • Carlene Taylor, Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet

  • Mary Jane Woomer, DuPont-Hadley Middle

  • Ernestine Saville-Brock, MNPS Mathematics Coordinator

  • Sarah Baker, MNPS Science Coordinator

These fine educators join 260 others from across the country.

The Sally Ride Science Academy was founded by Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. The academy is dedicated to assist teachers in raising student interest in science. The program, based on research, shows that introducing young students to various science careers and scientists can spark interest and make the study of science more meaningful.


When I arrived at the newly renovated Isaac Litton Middle School, principal Tracy Bruno was fleeing the spray of a lawn sprinkler deployed to help the parched and newly planted landscaping. The grass may not have been prepared for the drought, but the school is prepared for more students and a higher profile in its East Nashville neighborhood.

“We are the epitome of a neighborhood school, right here in the middle of all these houses,” Bruno told me. And it’s true. Litton sits nestled between small, residential streets like Winding Way and Littonwood Drive right off Gallatin Pike.

The renovations that have taken place over the last year and a half have transformed the school into a building that looks practically new – and that’s because a lot of it is. The main office has been expanded. The library has a massive bank of new windows opening to the front lawn. The cafeteria is brand new and full of natural light. And the gym – once completely disconnected from the main building – has now been built out with new entrances, a new concession stand, and a host of new classrooms underneath it for fifth grade and related arts classes.

Click "Read more" for photos and the full story of Litton's neighborhood transformation.


Common Core Coaches
Front Row: Debra Jenson, Kimberly Osborne, Jennifer Norton, Keri Davis, Lauryn Crabtree Back Row: Lisa Baranoski, Darcie Finch, Ernestine Saville-Brock (math coordinator), David Williams

The Tennessee Department of Education is putting the work of the Common Core transition into the hands of those who know best - a few of Metro's top teachers!

As Tennessee gears up to implement the Common Core State Standards in grades 3-8 math next school year, more than 200 teachers from across the state will spend their summer as Core Coaches, helping colleagues in their districts navigate the transition to the rigorous standards.

“This is an exciting moment for Tennessee as we take the important concepts of the Common Core State Standards directly to classroom teachers where they will have the biggest impact for children,” said Emily Barton, assistant commissioner for curriculum and instruction for the Tennessee Department of Education.

More than 400 teachers applied to be Core Coaches, and the 205 chosen state-wide went through a rigorous application process. Kicking off the transition process to new standards and assessments, they will now spend the spring training to lead sessions this summer for more than 11,000 teachers across the state.


Dr. Simyka Carlton, lifetime wellness teacher at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, Dr. Simyka Carlton - HS teacher of the year finalisthas known teaching was in the cards for her since her pre-teen years.

“When I was ten years old, I can remember my mother saying that when she finished raising her children she was going back to school to become a math teacher,” Carlton says. “When I asked her why she wanted to teach, she stated the best gift you can give a child is an education. From that point, I knew I wanted to become an educator.”

Carlton began taking education courses in college. While she wasn’t sure what she wanted to teach in the beginning, she quickly realized that teaching was second nature to her. It wasn’t until later in her undergraduate studies that she decided health and physical education were her passions.

Having spent 12 years in the classroom, Carlton says the best part of her job is reaching all students and seeing them excel. “I love seeing the confused looks on my students’ faces as I give an assignment. Yet, once they figure out what needs to be done and they accomplish the task given to them, that look of success and ‘aha, I got it’ gives me more that any accolade.”

Carlton earned a bachelor’s degree, with an emphasis in physical education, from Bethel College. She later earned a masters from Cumberland University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Walden University. She says she is “extremely honored and proud to be in the running for teacher of the year.”

When she isn’t teaching, Carlton spends her time with her family and friends, traveling, reading and writing poetry, and painting.

Friday, learn why Anthony Sewell of Hunters Lane High School credits his own teachers for his chosen career path.


Ray Whittaker WhittsittThe faculty and staff at Whitsitt Elementary will soon dedicate the school’s gymnasium to Ray Whittaker, a 35-year member of the Whitsitt family.  Sunday, April 15, at 2 p.m., the Whittsitt community will gather to celebrate at a special dedication ceremony.

Whittaker dedicated more than three decades to the students, staff and families of Whitsitt Elementary. During his tenure, he served as physical education teacher and principal designee. He also served as a mentor, friend, and father figure to many. He encouraged and inspired countless young people including their family. Even after retirement, Whittaker remained active in the profession serving as a substitute teacher.  Whittaker passed on August 28, 2011.


Deborah Shull of Antioch Middle School is this week’s News 2 Teacher of the Week! See why she is such an asset to Antioch during News 2’s 10pm newscast Thursday, April 12. You can also catch a replay Friday morning, April 13, during the 6am newscast.  


Kimberly Woodard Apollo MS - 2013 teacher of the year finalistKimberly Woodard, eighth grade science teacher at Apollo Middle, is among the top in her class, and for good reason! The district Teacher of the Year finalist says she feels “overwhelmed and truly honored to be considered” for the award.

Woodard was inspired to teach by her fifth grade teacher, Robert Mitchell, who showed the class how to be an adult advocate for students. Woodard says he taught them life lessons beyond the academic setting.

Now in her 14th year of teaching, Woodard says the parts she enjoys most are developing relationships with the students and the creativity she is able to employ daily.

“When a teacher has established relationships with his/her students it cultivates an atmosphere of trust,” Woodard says. “I have found that when students know that you genuinely care about them as individuals, they are not only more compliant, but more motivated to learn. On the other hand, my ability to be autonomous and creative as a teacher is just as rewarding. I really enjoy creating authentic and interesting science lessons for my students.”

Woodard attended Tennessee State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology as well as a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She received a second master’s in educational leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University.

When she isn’t teaching, Woodard is generally found giving back to her community. She frequently volunteers at the Sexual Assault Center, Nashville Rescue Mission and Hickory Hollow Towers, an assisted living facility in Antioch. She also works monthly with the ladies of the Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to feed homeless women.

Next Friday, find out why Stratford teacher Simyka Carlton feels she was born to teach!   


Vanessa Lutton, library media specialist at Bellevue Middle School, came into a career inVanessa Lutton TOY Finalist 2012 education almost by accident! While in college, she spent time working in a newly formed Career Education Department that was designed to integrate career education programs into all K-12 school settings.

According to Lutton, “As good fortune would have it, the team consisted of elementary through high school teachers who were fresh out of the classroom. I happened to land in the perfect storm as a college student with no direction among teachers who loved and missed their classrooms. The line between ‘job’ and ‘mentorship’ became blurred as these educators shared their passion of the teaching profession with me. “

Lutton learned a great deal from the individuals she worked with, but the most important lesson she learned was how much they loved their work in education. She realized that teaching was a lifestyle, not just a job.

Now, 27 years after she made teaching her lifestyle, Lutton says the part she cherishes most is learning alongside her students and co-workers. She says that the “transfer of knowledge” hierarchy changes direction throughout the day, with students learning from staff and staff learning from students. She also relishes the opportunities to establish connections with students and adults that come with each new day.

Lutton earned an associate degree from State Fair Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri, a master’s degree from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and has earned +30 from Cumberland University and Middle Tennessee State University.

When she isn’t at Bellevue Middle, Luttno spends her time investigating life through books, travel, engaging with others, and embarking on new adventures. Of her status as a finalist in the Teacher of the Year program, Lutton says that she is humbled that her peers, whom she holds in high regard, selected her out of a group of highly qualified professionals.

Next Friday, learn why Kimberly Woodard, eighth grade science teacher at Apollo Middle, feels student advocacy and volunteerism are key.v


Mark North

Board Member &

Sports Fan Mark North

Proud Elementary School Teacher – Greatness Groomed Early

The North Sports Report visited Chadwell Elementary School recently and chatted with Music teacher extraordinaire Marsha Brewer who spoke fondly of a former Chadwell student named Devin Wilson and pointed out that Devin recently received the Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Award from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, after leading the TSU Tigers in receiving this year and carrying a 3.15 grade point average. TSU’s Coach Rod Reed described the Chadwell Elementary alumnus as “a true student-athlete. He is a great role model for young kids and spends time reaching out to our youth.” Mrs. Brewer remembers Devin as “a great music student.”

Every high school and college scholar is built on a foundation of tremendous elementary school and middle school teachers. Congratulations to Devin and to Chadwell Elementary!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Can you imagine receiving a scholar-athlete award from a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Thanks to retired MNPS athletic director Scott Brunette, sports photo-journalist Mike Strasinger, and the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, these scholar-athletes have a memento to treasure, and the North Sports Report proudly shares the pictures with you.

Click here for photos of the Scholar Athlete Awards

PHOTOS of Student Athlete Awards

MNPS: The First Choice for Tremendous Teachers


“My mom always said I would be a teacher and it made me so mad!  When I was 16, a Julie Hasfjord TOY Julia Green 2012fortune-telling machine spat out a ticket that said I would be a teacher, and my face turned bright red as my mom laughed with knowing.  I never wanted to be a teacher . . . . I wanted to change the world. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized those two were one and the same.”

Fortunately for the third graders at Julia Green Elementary, 11-year veteran educator Julie Hasfjord did make that ever-important realization and redirected her professional career from environmental studies to public education. Prior to teaching, Hasfjord worked alongside major players in the environmental field, including Dr. Jane Goodall. During this time, she developed a successful curriculum and delivery model for environmental education that is still being used around the southeastern U.S. While she loved working on this type of project, Hasfjord realized that the most enjoyable and meaningful parts of her work were when she was teaching the lessons to third graders.

After more than a decade in education, Hasfjord says her favorite part about teaching is teaching at an International Baccalaureate School because of the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum. She loves inspiring students to become lifelong learners and to make a difference in the world. Mostly, she loves when everything comes together for a student and you can see the pride in his or her eyes.

“I really can’t describe how surprised I am to be in the running for Teacher of the Year,” Hasfjord says. “I have been teaching for 11 years, and I still feel like I am improving each year. I also know that most teachers are giving 110% of their time and energy on a daily basis, and I am just one of them. I hope to use the “Teacher of the Year” platform to express the many ways that all teachers make a difference every second of every day.  It is truly the most challenging and rewarding work in the world.

Hasfjord attended Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.Car., and received a bachelors degree in environmental students with a concentration in environmental education. She later earned a master’s degree from Peabody College of Vanderbilt. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children. She volunteers for the Nashville School Garden Coalition as curriculum chairperson and is an active member of the Tennessee Environmental Education Association. She loves finding ways for teachers to meet academic standards while using school gardens and outdoor spaces.

Next Friday, the “perfect storm” that catapulted Vanessa Lutton, library media specialist at Bellevue Middle, into an educational career spanning nearly three decades!  

View the Complete List of 2012-13 Teachers of the Year


Jenny Gambill - Glengarry Teacher of the Year 2013Jenny Gambill, third grade teacher at Glengarry Elementary, is more than just a proud MNPS teacher and finalist for this year's Teacher of the Year. She is also an alumni of Overton High School. In fact, her third and fourth grade teachers, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Rogers, at Tusculum Elementary were key reasons she entered the profession. The pair served as inspirations and showed Gambill that learning can be fun and rewarding.

When asked what she loves most about teaching, Gambill replied, “My favorite part of teaching is when I see that spark in mystudents’ eyes when they finally get what they’ve been struggling with. I know that I’ve succeeded as a teacher when I can reach them.”

Gambill says that being a finalist for Teacher of the Year is humbling and a great honor because there are so many outstanding educators in the district.

Gambill attended McMurray Middle and graduated from Overton High before enrolling at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She holds a bachelor’s degree in deaf education and elementary education. She is in her 28th year of teaching with Metro Nashville Public Schools.

When she isn’t teaching, Gambill’s family takes priority. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter. She also enjoys walking, reading, bicycling, movie-going, home decorating and other outdoor activities.

Gambill is a finalist for Metro Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year. This year’s Teacher of the Year Reception will be held Tuesday, April 16.

This Friday, Julie Hasjford, third grade teacher at Julia Green, shares why she was determined NOT to be a teacher and what changed her mind.

View the Complete List of 2012-13 Teachers of the Year


Metro Schools proudly inducted 28 promising young teachers into its 2nd Teacher Leadership Institute Class. The men and women are entering their third year of teaching and will spend the next 12 months developing leadership skills that they can use inside the classroom or in administrative roles throughout MNPS. The full release is below.

TLI 2012 - the second cohort of teachers inducted into the Teacher Leadership Institute


Nashville Teaching FellowsNashville Teaching Fellows is now accepting applications for the 2012-13 school year. This project recruits recent college graduates and outstanding professionals to bring their knowledge into the classroom. Those selected will train in a intensive summer training program, and then pursue a teaching license during their first years in the classroom. 

What is Nashville Teaching Fellows?

The Nashville Teaching Fellows program is an initiative of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) which recruits, selects, and trains high-achieving individuals from all backgrounds to teach in critical shortage subject areas and schools. It seeks to close the achievement gap in Nashville’s schools and ensure that every child, regardless of background, has excellent teachers.

Nashville Teaching Fellows (NTF) is unique because it seeks candidates who want to make a long-term career change to teaching. We help Fellows achieve that goal by providing intense pre-service training, and by working with them to find full-time teaching positions in MNPS. NTF is different from other alternative route licensure programs because Fellows teach full time in their own classroom and earn salary and benefits as full time MNPS employees while they are also taking evening classes offered by NTF to pursue their Tennessee teaching license.

Who is Nashville Teaching Fellows looking for?

We are looking for applicants who realize that one teacher's influence can change the possibilities for numerous students. We want people who are leaders in their community and who possess the commitment, flexibility, and drive necessary to achieve success in the classroom. We want professionals, recent college graduates, parents, and individuals who want to be the difference in Nashville’s schools. There is no specific type of applicant that NTF is looking for, but we want candidates who will use their experience and energy to ensure that all of our students excel academically.

Previous coursework in education is not required, but candidates must:

  • Possess a bachelor's degree (conferred by June 2012).

  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher.

  • Be eligible to work in the United States.

  • Not currently, or have ever been, a fully-licensed teacher or a graduate of an education program designed to lead to licensure.

  • Meet requirements for your subject area.

  • Report any criminal records on your application.

For More Information:

To learn more about NTF visit our website: www.nashvilleteachingfellows.org or email us: info@nashvilleteachingfellows.org

Applications accepted online at www.nashvilleteachingfellows.org

Early Application Deadline is November 28, 2011.

Apply Today!


Congratulations to Amy Leslie of McMurray Middle and Tripp Nicholson of Hillwood High for being named this year's Junior Achievement Teachers of the Year! The full release is below:

Two MNPS teachers honored by Junior Achievement 

Two Metro Nashville Public School educators have been named Teachers of the Year by Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit that provides volunteer-led, classroom-based learning programs to students in Kindergarten through high school.

Amy Leslie of McMurray Middle School and Trip Nicholson of Hillwood High School have been named the middle school and high school teachers of the year. Both received recognition at their schools recently for their support of JA during the 2010-2011 school year.

“Amy and Trip were selected for their length of service to JA, the number of students impacted through the JA program, and their overall commitment to the organization’s mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy,” said JA Director of Programs Andy Schenck.

Junior Achievement teachers like Leslie and Nicholson host volunteers in their classrooms who deliver JA’s age-appropriate curriculum on financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship. These lessons enhance those that teachers are already using in the classroom and connect textbook concepts to real-world applications.

Teachers interested in hosting JA volunteers and curriculum in their classrooms can visit www.janash.com or call 615-627-1195 for more information.

 JA Teacher of Year - Amy Leslie     JA Teacher of Year - Tripp Nicholson


Thursday, Sept. 8, Norman Binkley Elementary teacher Betsy Cate will be featured as the News2 Educator of the Week. See what makes Cate standout in a special segment Thursday night at 10pm or Friday morning between 6 - 7 am.


LP PENCIL Box is officially back in business! The center reopened August 3. Teachers can shop twice each year, picking up educational and art supplies donated by area businesses, organizations and individuals. To schedule an appointment, visit www.pencilfd.org.


Monday, July 18, Miguel Cooper, Spanish instructor at Nashville School of the Arts, helped kick off  the 2011 AVID Summer Institute in Chicago. Cooper was invited to serve as the inspiring and energetic keynote speaker for the week-long event. Along with hundreds of other educators, representatives from MNPS's 14 AVID sites applauded Miguel's pedagogical insights and his commitment to serving young people.



MNPS is proud to announce Teachers of the Year. This annual program seeks to recognize outstanding educators and administrators. Winners in each division were announced Monday, April 11th at Annual MNPS Teacher of the Year Celebration. The 2012 Teachers of the Year winners will go on to represent the district in the state competition for their division.


Kenton Wesby, Madison Middle School, and Tanisha Wesby, Goodlettsville Elementary, have been invited to serve on the SECME National Advisory Council and as SECME Master Teacher Mentors throughout 2011-12. SECME has served as a key source of professional development for teachers, grades K-12, who focus on science, technology, engineering, and math - also known as STEM courses. According to a news release issued by SECME, as Master Teacher Mentors, the Wesbys will expand the role of SECME Master Teacher beyond the Summer Institute as Professional Learning Community Mentors. They will assist other teachers


The Tennessee Department of Education recently announced that Tennessee has been awarded nearly 35 million in a Teacher Incentive Fund Grant. The 34.9 million will be used to support student academic achievement by providing highly effective teachers and administrators. Specifically, the grant will help fund new teacher- and principal-evaluation based pay programs. To read the full release, click here.

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