K-12 Education

National Commission Looks at Nashville Schools

February 28, 2018  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development


These videos explore Metro Nashville Public Schools’s program integrating social and emotional learning with academic development (now in the sixth year of an extended rollout). They look at the formation of the district’s social and emotional learning program, the research that supports its positive impact on academics, and the hurdles the program faced in its inaugural years as well as innovative social and emotional learning practices at three schools—Fall-Hamilton Elementary, Valor Collegiate Academies, and Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School—a trio that represents a broad cross-section of Nashville and reflects the city’s changing demographics.

Fall-Hamilton Elementary School

Fall-Hamilton Elementary, in Nashville, has taken a whole-school approach to responding to student’s social, emotional, and academic needs, focusing on key relationships—between adults and students, among the staff, and among the students—and incorporating social and emotional learning comprehensively. These programs have resulted in a much improved school climate where students feel supported and known—and where academic performance is steadily rising.

Valor Collegiate Academies

At Valor Collegiate Academies—two charter schools on one campus in Nashville that serve grades 5 through 8—the core philosophy is that “really strong social and emotional learning work is very advantageous to kids also doing well academically in school,” says Todd Dickson, who founded the schools with his twin brother, Daren. Structured community and character development programs like weekly Circle gatherings and advisory meetings called pride groups are deeply ingrained in the schools’ culture, and all students and teachers are expected to achieve fluency in the language of social growth and learning.

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Nashville’s Pearl-Cohn High School is located in North Nashville and it serves about 800 students in grades 9-12. The school strives to accommodate the academic needs of all students with trauma-informed practices and pedagogy grounded in social and emotional learning. Staff members at Pearl-Cohn have made a deeper commitment to knowing the kids, and focusing on building strong student-teacher relationships and setting high expectations gives kids the tools they need to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.



These videos were produced by Edutopia as part of a series developed in collaboration with the National Commission for Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.