Academic Rigor

How do St. Paul students attain high academic standards? St. Paul welcomes them into a developmentally appropriate learning environment created by dedicated teachers, where children learn to work hard yet still enjoy the delights of childhood.



We hold high expectations for our students and provide a nurturing and challenging environment to help them meet those expectations and reach their highest potential. St. Paul prepares children for acceptance to and success in the most competitive college-preparatory schools in Nashville.

St. Paul demonstrates academic excellence through our faculty’s ongoing attention to curricular improvement and adoption of practices that benefit the whole child—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically—while preparing each student with the skills and habits of the mind they will need to succeed.

Our literacy program focuses on establishing phonemic awareness, blending and segmenting sounds into words, developing vocabulary and building listening comprehension. Students will establish the correct motor movements necessary to form letters and numbers in our writing program, while also practicing the act of putting their thoughts on paper using pictures, single words, and sentences. Our math program builds an understanding of numbers and computation, as well as developing skills in problem-solving and logical thinking.

Lower School

Lower school begins in junior fours and continues through second grade. We immerse these young students in a supportive and nurturing learning environment and believe the early elementary years to be formative years for the growth of children academically, socially, and spiritually. We seek to cultivate active and creative learners through a developmentally-appropriate curriculum, creating habits and values that are relevant and long-lasting.

Instruction in the lower school opens the world of learning and inspires our students toward a greater understanding of their surrounding environment. The curriculum includes reading, writing, language arts, mathematics, Bible, science, social studies, technology, music, art, and physical education. Each grade builds on the skills and content from the previous grades as children mature and become ready for the next challenge.

If you would like to know more about our school, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would welcome you to our campus to share the great things that are going on every day at St. Paul.

Amy Nickels
Lower School Division Head

Upper School

The St. Paul upper school experience is thoughtfully designed to complement and to extend the foundation laid in our lower school and to prepare students for the challenges that lie ahead at their next-level schools. It is characterized by new challenges and opportunities, increased responsibility, and, most importantly, it is rooted in loving relationships that inspire our students to see themselves as image bearers of Christ.

In the upper school, our academic curriculum remains anchored in the four core disciplines of mathematics, language arts, science, and history. Our third graders receive instruction in each discipline from one homeroom teacher, but our fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students rotate through discipline-specific faculty rather than staying in a self-contained classroom with a single teacher. Our 4th-6th-grade homeroom teachers serve as subject-matter experts in a core discipline. This structure allows us to focus more intently on each subject to prepare our students well for entrance into and success in the most rigorous and selective preparatory schools in Nashville.

At this stage of development, students are eager to extend their interests and relationships beyond the school day and outside the classroom. We accommodate this interest by providing a broad selection of extra-curricular activities to our upper school. Upper school students have a myriad of activities from which to choose from, including track, football, golf, basketball, cheerleading, Chess Club, and our acting troupe: St. Paul Players,. Of course, being able to successfully manage a commitment to any extra-curricular activity depends heavily on one’s ability to balance classwork, homework, and practices.  Our faculty works hard to equip students with tools and habits needed to meet this challenge. In addition to the incorporation of study skills at each grade level, the day’s end is devoted to a careful examination of homework assignments for the following day as well as short-term and longer-term projects.

Extra-curricular activities extend beyond campus. An annual highlight for many upper school students is the annual off-campus trip. Beginning with a day trip to Mammoth Cave in third grade and extending to a five-day excursion to Washington, DC in sixth grade, off-campus trips allow students to deepen relationships with peers and teachers, to learn by exploring the world around them, and to have fun.

In the upper school at St. Paul, we develop independent learners and confident leaders who, after sixth grade, are ready to leave us and make a lasting impact in the school of their choice.  If you have questions about the upper school, I welcome the opportunity to spend time with you.

Susan Cobb
Assistant Head of School for Academics
Upper School Division Head