University School of Nashville

As a school founded to provide a working link between theory and practice, University
School comes naturally to a collaborative mindset. Our purpose with the Edward E. Ford
Leadership Grant is to continue erasing the fault lines separating high schools from higher
education and public schools from private schools. In that spirit, we embark on a direct curricular
development partnership with our research university neighbor, Vanderbilt University.
We plan to help build a curricular design bridge from secondary school to college, by
organizing, funding, and sharing projects born of partnerships between USN high school faculty
and their counterparts at Vanderbilt University just across the street from our campus. Too often
professors merely bemoan the lack of appropriate preparation high school students receive before
college, and high school teachers can only lament the narrow measures of academic progress
imposed by the college admissions process in order to sort through the mountain of student
applications.
Among the growing list of projects for consideration:
• redesigning our debate course sequence to encourage broader access for students
• creating a course in geophysical modeling to understand climate data and effects
• reconceiving our engineering course, building on experience over recent years
• working with Divinity School faculty on a collaborative program for studying Hebrew
• rethinking the place of a writing workshop for students preparing for university work
• improving our faculty advising program to better build skills for college success
University School, in the shadow of the nation’s top-ranked graduate school of education, seems
uniquely well-situated for bringing high school and college teachers together. But the benefit of
this partnership could extend far beyond our campuses, in the form of new curricular ideas and
the example we set. In an age of Common Core curriculum, when independent schools make a
statement about what and how we teach, it matters practically and strategically.
What we will generate can challenge the status quo of schools and colleges working apart. What
we will demonstrate should offer a window on collaborative efforts that are long overdue.