Program Overview
Episcopal School of Nashville is an independent co-educational Pre-K through middle school, serving students of diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. Valuing the education of the whole child, the school encourages students to engage their minds, bodies, and spirits as they grow in confidence and communion with others.
Nashville elementary school, episcopal school Nashville, Nashville elementary education, Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, Sixth Grade, Seventh Grade, Middle School, elementary school, independent school, private school, Christian school
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Program Overview

At the very heart of the Episcopal School of Nashville’s mission is its commitment to academic excellence and community-building, guided by our Episcopal Identity. By combining rigorous curricula with engaging and challenging learning experiences, our goal is to nurture and support students as they grow into strong critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Episcopal School students will leave prepared for the future, equipped with 21st century skills to make a positive impact in their communities.


The literacy curriculum at Episcopal School is thorough, and supports individual learning needs and differences. Each classroom is a community of readers, writers, listeners and speakers. Literacy instruction is founded with the goal of cultivating a lifelong love of reading. Students develop and come to see themselves as readers and writers because they are given daily opportunities to practice known strategies and to learn new ones when they are developmentally ready.


The mathematics curriculum is centered on the philosophy that children can come to understand the world around them by analyzing problems that need solving. In the early years, the focus is on developing and growing number sense, achieving fluency with numbers and simple operations, and supporting students as they learn to problem solve. Students are also encouraged to articulate their mathematical thinking, verbalizing how and why they arrive at conclusions. Students in grades K-2 use Singapore Math Curriculum: Math in Focus, Grades 3-5 use Eureka Math! and Grades 6-8 use Connected Mathematics Project. All math instruction is supplemented by a variety of inquiry-based problems and approaches, which provide the foundation of Episcopal School’s mathematics program.


Our SEL approach nurtures the academic, social and emotional needs of all of our students through providing developmentally appropriate structures and supports that honor the whole child, so each student can reach their full potential. Our Episcopal Identity provides an inclusive and affirming framework for students’ to explore and grow into their own unique identities, while weekly chapels, morning meetings and MS Advisory circles provide a safe space for celebrating the diversity of each student, as they learn and grow together in community. 

Early Childhood

Pre-K through Kindergarten

As child psychologist Jean Piaget said, “Play is the work of children.” At ESN, play is the core of our Early Childhood curriculum.  Meaningful play develops cognitive, linguistic and social development while increasing creativity and divergent thinking. Through inquiry and hands-on exploration, PreK and Kindergarten students are encouraged to partner in their education by expressing their interests and questions while investigating and learning through all of their senses.


The Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) at ESN is a play-based program. Our classrooms provide a setting for students to learn through hands-on exploration. Pre-K is a lively place where children learn by doing, sharing, and experiencing. Our program helps set a strong foundation for the skills they will need in the next stage of their educational journey with a balance of both teacher led and student initiated learning. The classrooms have been intentionally designed to support values of joyful play, discovery, creativity, and curiosity. They offer rich centers for investigation and self-initiated engagement in science, math, literacy, creative arts, and dramatic play. We utilize the Learning Without Tears curriculum, and regularly conduct cooking activities and science experiments. Students attend weekly division and all school chapel, atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), music, art, yoga, and urban gardening lessons.



Kindergarten at ESN continues the play-based learning approach of our Pre-Kindergarten classrooms. We structure our school day to encourage inquiry, exploration and discovery. Whole group activities promote both foundational skills and social-emotional learning. Small group instruction during the academic blocks allows for differentiation and opportunities to challenge and enrich students at their individualized developmental level. Free-choice opportunities encourage students’ interests and curiosities with unique spaces such as the light table, the tinkering station, and sensory table explorations. We extend our classroom walls to the outdoors with our playground, sand kitchen area, and water or messy play in the outdoor sensory table. We also take advantage of our urban neighborhood with frequent nature walks. Keeping raincoats and rainboots at school allows us to be ready to play in nearly any kind of weather! Throughout the week, Kindergarten students have opportunities outside of the classroom to explore concentrated activities such as art, music, urban gardening, yoga, library, and atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd). We celebrate our Episcopal identity through weekly divisional and all school chapel services.

In small group settings we focus on introducing skills in a joyful, playful classroom where children are encouraged to become curious, observant, and confident learners. We strive for our students to see themselves as readers and writers, mathematicians, scientists and gardeners, and valued members of their home and school community.

Lower School

First through Fifth Grade

Students’ days are filled with exploring, creating, and joyful learning. Each class meets in the morning as a group to build community and social-emotional skills before beginning academic work. Our teachers foster independent thinking, problem solving, and self-expression. We provide a foundation of high academic achievement through our curriculums and intentional differentiation. Episcopal School of Nashville’s Lower School is full of engaging, thought-provoking activities that help to educate the whole child and give them a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning.

First Grade

Building community and social and emotional awareness frames every moment of the day as first graders learn and play together. Students are encouraged to ask questions, explore, and bring new ideas to the learning community through collaboration and meaningful discussion. Our first graders learn reading skills with a balanced literacy approach that is embedded into all subjects. The primary phonics program we use is Fundations, helping kids explore reading skills through a hands-on approach. Each student receives individualized support for reading growth through collaborative and small group learning. Students explore writing topics in a workshop model and enjoy collaborating to build authentic writing skills. This developmentally appropriate approach allows for students to have freedom to write what they are passionate about while practicing important foundational skills. Math time is similarly collaborative and hands-on, with students discussing and exploring concepts to build a flexible, deep understanding of mathematics that is also relatable and applicable to the real world. Students also hone their social and collaborative skills through science, social studies and spiritual growth throughout the year.


Second Grade

Our second grade students spend their day immersed in differentiated instruction and hands-on activities. Their awareness of the classroom and school community is growing, so we focus on respect, resilience, and independence. Throughout the year, students will be introduced to and master a variety of academic skills. Our students love teaching each other math techniques, reading to a partner, working in student-led small groups to analyze books and poetry, and daily story writing. Monthly artist studies (coordinated with the school’s art program) are unique to the second grade curriculum. The class spends time each week researching an artist, recreating their work, and writing an artist biography, culminating in an end-of-year art show. We believe that learning happens not just through listening, but through games, discussion, modeling, reading, drawing, and movement.


Third Grade

Third grade students spend their day immersed in engaging lessons and activities as they become independent and responsible learners. Reading and writing instruction is integrated with social studies and science through a variety of projects. These projects encourage learners to ask questions, research, create, write, and collaborate. Daily literacy lessons provide students with meaningful and engaging activities that provide opportunities to increase vocabulary, discuss ideas, make connections, and grow as learners. Math instruction encourages conceptual understanding and real-world application. In third grade, there is a focus on the importance of respect, persistence, and critical thinking about the community and world around them.


Fourth Grade

Fourth grade is focused on responsibility, independence and choices. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning which fosters independence, and there are many opportunities for making choices. Through student-led projects, students research topics of interest, gain deeper knowledge and share their knowledge with peers through presentations and projects. Throughout the curriculum students are engaged in a variety of ways to satisfy their natural curiosity: through novel studies in English, solving real world word problems in Math, hands-on experimentation in Science, research projects in Social Studies, and a year-long cursive handwriting program. Technology is used to deepen student knowledge through research, to record science data, practice math skills, learn coding skills and more.


Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade marks a significant turning point in a child’s academic journey. In Fifth Grade, students show an increased sense of self and responsibility for their learning as they transition into more in-depth exploration of subject-area concepts. Fifth graders learn how to manage time and academic expectations, identify their own learning styles, and dive deeper into their own academic interests through project based learning on topics of their choosing. For example, if a student is learning a certain topic, they may choose to share what they have learned by writing a song, creating a diorama, or presenting a research paper. If the student gets to create something in which they are interested, they will have a deeper understanding and gain more knowledge on that particular subject. Fifth graders, as lifelong learners and problem solvers, are expected to be active and critical thinkers, work cooperatively with their peers, and continue to develop their academic stamina in preparation for Middle School. As the leaders of the Lower School, Fifth graders will have access to different enrichment/elective options and they will have opportunities to lead Lower School assemblies, take charge of projects, and more.

Middle School

Sixth through Eighth Grade

Middle School is an important milestone in a student’s life. It is a time when they are transitioning out of elementary school into young adulthood, and are maturing intellectually, spiritually, social-emotionally, and physically. These Middle School years often shape a student’s beliefs and perspectives about themselves, their communities, and the world around them. Using the city as an extension of our classroom, our Middle School Program at ESN nurtures, inspires, and guides students in Grades 6-8 through this important time in their lives. MS students apply knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems in preparation for high school and beyond.


A typical day in Middle School ELA relies on the study of literature as the foundational jumping off point. Across the grade levels, students, sitting in a circle of desks, learn to speculate and wonder about the impact of language and the role of stories in shaping how we understand our world. The literature is selected with an eye for introducing students to a wide range of voices and genres. Culminating assessments are typically project-based and ask students to apply what they have learned from the literature to answer central questions like “Can loyalty be destructive?” or “What would a perfect society look like and why haven’t we gotten there?” Whenever possible, students are also encouraged to connect the themes of ELA to other academic disciplines or to current issues they observe in our local, national, and global communities.



Middle school science at ESN begins and ends with a sense of awe and wonder. Students encounter strange phenomena and tricky problems that they work together to explain and solve using the practices of science and engineering. The focus is on putting the answers they find to their own questions together in a coherent way. The process is inquiry based and hands-on throughout with many connections to students’ other academic and elective classes. Our program is built around the three dimensions of science learning outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.



The goal of the math program in the middle school at ESN is to develop each individual student’s problem-solving skills, communicate mathematical concepts effectively, develop reasoning and collaboration skills, and grow in their passion for learning. Students work with real-world problem sets and projects that allow them to develop thoughtful understandings of numeracy, algebra, geometry, probability, and data analysis. The classroom is a lively, student-centered environment where students engage in rich mathematics to discover patterns and the “Why?”behind the mathematics. Students gain a conceptual understanding of complex mathematical ideas, procedural skills and fluency, and the ability to apply mathematics to solve unique and unfamiliar problems. The approach allows students to develop skills in a wide range of mathematical situations while developing confidence as joyful mathematicians.


Social Studies

Social Studies at ESN is designed to help students become thoughtful, engaged citizens, who can understand both current and historical events from multiple perspectives. The social studies curriculum explores a combination of American and World History, with an emphasis on highlighting indigenous voices and stories, to inspire students’ curiosity about the world around them, build historical context and background knowledge, develop research, skills, writing and critical thinking skills, learning to follow their interests, and engaging in critical analysis or current events. Through hands-on projects, integrated research units, and field trips/community engagement, we’ll explore how history has shaped the world we live in as we strive to be the most inclusive, thoughtful and engaged citizens we can be.



Students in grades 6-8 attend Spanish classes 4 times per week to introduce students to the foundational elements of the Spanish Language, with opportunities for conversation and listening comprehension.