Please join us in welcoming Christiane Buggs as PENCIL’s charismatic, accomplished President and CEO! An MNPS alumna, former teacher, and current parent, she brings vast experience in the field of education that positions her to build on PENCIL’s successes while forging a new leadership path for the community to rally behind Metro’s school system. A Nashville native with connections across the city, she is a community leader, nonprofit founder, and respected professional with proven successes in building partner and donor relationships, most recently as Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance.
Name: Christiane Buggs
Hometown: Nashville, TN
MNPS schools attended: Cumberland Elementary, Bordeaux Elementary, Jones Paideia, Buena Vista Jr. High, MLK Magnet High
First job: Kroger (in Bordeaux) … but I would typically claim T.J. Maxx, my next job, because it seemed so cool!
Christiane holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, and, while earning two master’s degrees in education, she taught middle school math in MNPS. In 2016, she successfully ran for the Board of Education and was re-elected to a second term in 2020, quickly becoming its Chair as the district continued to navigate the aftermath of the March tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic. In her role as the President and CEO of PENCIL, Nashville’s business connector to our public school system, Christiane’s strong passion for and commitment to the students of Metro Nashville Public Schools will guide her in leading PENCIL to support MNPS by recruiting business partners and serving as a teacher resource center, which will assure that all of our students have equitable access to resources and opportunities.
Q&A with Christiane Buggs
What about working at PENCIL excites you most?
Resourcing teachers and really being able to support schools by telling stories of all the people in them.
What is your first order of business as President & CEO?
PENCIL’s staff is the heartbeat of the organization. They are so knowledgeable that getting to know them and how they do what they do will be incredibly helpful.
Who has shaped your approach to leadership?
Dr. Sharon Gentry and State House Rep. Harold Love both have a calm, diplomatic approach to leadership that I admire.
What first got you interested in a career in education?
Growing up with 7 younger siblings made me realize early on how much I enjoyed teaching others. Sure, I loved children, but seeing someone learn a new skill or to feel confident in new knowledge always made me smile. When I decided to walk away from physics, I felt compelled to expose other young women of color to STEM in ways they had not been before.
Who was your favorite teacher?
As a child Mrs. Shute, my third-grade teacher, was easily identifiable as my favorite teacher. I would have described her as kind and extremely smart with an air of regality. She was (and still is) a woman who did not mind taking the time to truly learn every child so that she might best cater to our individual needs. As an eight-year-old girl, watching her be both beautiful and kind to us, while being able to answer any question I had was powerful. She helped build my confidence without even knowing it.
As an adult, though, I must name Dr. Michelle Springer as my favorite all-around educator. She was the principal my last year as a teacher, and she helped me grow in a number of ways. She exemplified servant leadership and walked shoulder to shoulder with staff to shift culture and build better outcomes based on data-focused conversations.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Do not take things personally. This keeps me from attaching negative emotions to a person when I feel wronged. It also helps me remember to humanize others, no matter what.
Which Nashville place did you enjoy most as a child?
Opryland Theme Park
Where can we find you when you’re not at work?
Home … or maybe at an oyster bar; I didn’t realize they were so good!
What would you title your autobiography?
A Buggs’ Life