About the School

Sewanee Elementary is located atop the mountainous Cumberland Plateau in the southeastern part of Middle Tennesse. Sewanee Elementary School serves grades K-5 in the Franklin County School Distrct district.

Demographics 2019-2020

Student population - 199

Asian - 1%
White - 96%
African American - 2%
Hispanic or Latino - 1%

The History of Sewanee Elementary School

The history of Sewanee Elementary School traces the physical record of its schools, students, and teachers. More importantly, it celebrates the spirit of an entire community that has believed in education and has acted on that belief. The same spirit that kept the University of the South from foundering after the Civil War has been sustained throughout a community that has built and supported its public schools for the children of this area for over one hundred and thirty years.

The discovery of coal on the Cumberland Plateau brought some of the first settlers to this area. Samuel Franklin Tracy headed a group of wealthy investors from New York City who bought the land that contained the coal deposits, obtained a charter from the State of Tennessee to mine the coal, and set up the Sewanee Mining Company in 1852. In order to ship the coal to other areas, the Sewanee Mining Company started building a railroad up the mountain. Completed in 1856, it was the first railroad up the Cumberland Plateau and the steepest railroad in the country. The train engine that hauled the coal down the mountain was called the "Sewanee Mountain Goat". (P. Makris)

"By 1856, the Southern states were more prosperous than ever before in history and the population was growing faster than ever. The Reverend James H. Otey, organizer of the first Episcopal congregation in Tennessee and its first bishop, thought a church university should be created to train young men in the ministry. Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana, expanded Otey's idea of a church university to include religious training and education. In 1857 the southern Episcopal bishops created a board of trustees to pursue the concept of creating a church university and began to search for a suitable site. Reverend James H. Otey, first Bishop of Tennessee, and Rev. Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana, were among this group of men. The president of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad Company, Colonel Vernon K. Stevenson, told Bishop Polk about the mountain area that included the town now known as Sewanee. A group of men visited the mountain to explore the area. George Fairbanks in his "History of the University of the South" relates that one of the party, Dr. Safford, remembered Bishop Polk riding over the ground, up one hill and down another, to this spring and to that one, until, reining up his horse in the midst of a beautiful growth of forest trees and more than satisfied, exclaimed, 'Gentlemen, here is the spot and here shall be the University'" (p. 15-Makris).

Although other proposed sites included areas in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Huntsville and McMinnville, the Cumberland Plateau site was officially chosen in November 1857. In August, 1859 the trustees reported that the Sewanee Mining company had agreed to donate 5,000 acres of land for the University with the stipulation that the University was to be operational within ten years or the land would revert to the mining company. An additional 5,000 acres obtained from individuals created the domain of the University of the South. The cornerstone for the University was dedicated on October 10, 1860. In his book Reconstruction At Sewanee, Arthur Ben Chitty included these observations made by "one of the barefooted mountain children playing in the background:  

"It was in 1860, I believe, that my grandfather, J.F. Anderson who lived about 12 miles from what is now Sewanee, gathered up all of his numerous family to attend the laying of the Corner Stone of what was intended to be the first building of the University of the South...The trip was made by wagon and horseback through the mountains, and we camped out one night on the way. I was then about 10 years old, and remember being scared by the screaming of a wildcat during the night.... I will never forget the exciting events of that day. There were certainly enough startling events to excite an ignorant country boy. The first thing I noticed was the great throng of country people, more that I had ever seen or have seen since...They had come, as we had come on foot, horseback, and in wagon, drawn by all sorts of teams, from afar and near, and they had come prepared to enjoy the day." (pgs. 65-66)

Sewanee historian Arthur Ben Chitty writes, "Every step (toward the founding of America's first university) was completely successful. A bit more time-and peace-were needed. Both were denied. Two months after the cornerstone was laid on October 10, 1860, South Carolina seceded."

During the Civil War the cornerstone was blown up, all existing buildings were destroyed, and the money invested for the University was lost. Several of the founding trustees, including Polk and Otey, died. Remembering the 1858 agreement with the Sewanee Mining Company that the land, if not used within ten years, would revert back to the mining company, the members of the diocese met and decided to resume the work of rebuilding the University. Reverend Dr. Charles Todd Quintard, Dr. David Pise, and George Fairbanks were charged with making the first steps. Since money was scarce in the southern states, Bishop Quintard went to England and raised money to help rebuild. As Bishop Quintard was planning the University, he was also planning the town. The small village was started around the depot station and began its expansion. In the autumn of 1868 the college opened with just 9 students and four faculties. The University of the South and the Sewanee community began to move forward.


Jabez Wheeler Hayes, an Episcopalian from New Jersey, who had been encouraged by Bishop Quintard to move to Sewanee, built the first public school on the mountain. In 1867 Hayes leased a one hundred acre plot of land on the bluff (where St. Mary's stands today). He moved to Sewanee after the death of his wife in 1870, built a large steam sawmill, and, according to Fairbanks, "furnished the means on credit for erecting boarding halls and private residences." "Hayes was the first large scale benefactor to Sewanee after the war. His gifts were civic improvements in the community. Builder of the first free school, he may be regarded as the founder of the Sewanee Public School, long before the concept of free education had permeated the South. Tennessee did not pass its first compulsory school law until 1907. Hayes may have put as much as $100,000 of his fortune into the early development of the village, most of this before 1875." (Sewanee Sampler, Arthur Ben and Elizabeth N. Chitty, 1978, p.26)

St. Paul's on the Mountain school and St. Paul's on the Mountain church were wooden structures, which stood on the site of the present playground and the 1999 addition to Sewanee Elementary School. Two of the first volunteer teachers were Miss Flora Fairbanks, daughter of George Fairbanks, and Miss Charlotte Elliot, daughter of Bishop Stephen Elliot. Field Dunbar, a student who entered the college in 1870, also volunteered. By 1872 there were seventy- five pupils. An article from a local newspaper dated May, 1875, describes a visit to this school:

"A very few years since, an unbroken and untenanted forest occupied the site of the University, visited occasionally by hunters or traversed by transient travelers. It was almost solitude. The establishment of the University has changed all this and the influence of the University is felt in widening circles. No more striking illustration could be given of this than the work so successfully instituted and carried out at St. Paul's. Through the kindness of Mr. Hayes, a neat building for school purposes was erected near the railroad station, some three years since, and a small beginning was made toward affording the means of education to the population in that neighborhood. After a year or so, the work was taken hold of by young ladies, members of families connected with the University, and carried on with a devotion and earnestness, which deserved and secured success.

Today we visited the school, and found within its walls nearly one hundred children, neat, orderly, attentive and proficient in their studies. A spelling-match, participated in by seventy-five of the children, was in progress while we were present, and we were surprised to see the ease and fluency with which the little ones of tender years spelled scores of difficult words, and the general proficiency of all in this important branch of education. The parents of these children, owing to the absence of schools in their early days, are, as a general thing, uneducated, and it must be a source of heartfelt pleasure to them to see their children in the enjoyment of those advantages of which they were themselves deprived. We doubt whether, all things considered, a more creditable school can be found in our State, or out of it. The neatness of the children, their bright, intelligent and earnest faces, and the hearty good will subsisting between teachers and children exemplified what a school should be.

Since the retirement of Miss Elliott, Mr. Field Dunbar has been associated with Miss Fairbanks in the work of instruction."

Jabez Wheeler Hayes returned to New Jersey in 1877 and died there in 1882. His home and lands in Sewanee were sold to the Sisters of St. Mary, an order of Episcopal nuns who in 1885 opened a school for underprivileged girls of the coves. Arthur Ben Chitty writes that although New Jersey remembered him as one of that state's greatest citizens, "on the balance he was probably more important to Sewanee than to his home state."(Sewanee Sampler, p.29)

The School on Billy Goat Hill

In 1891, Otey Parish, the present stone Episcopal church, was built and St. Paul's became the school and church for the black community. The public school was now located on top of Billy Goat Hill near the site of the old Mountain Goat railroad. Today only pine trees on top of the hill mark its location.

Mignon Winn, a student at Billy Goat Hill and former teacher at S.E.S., wrote that "at first the building consisted of two rooms and a hall, but later a third room was added. Large, old-fashioned pot-bellied stoves provided heat. Water was carried from a well at the depot, and the children having the best grades and best behavior got the privilege of going after the water. At first the children drank from the dipper, but later a barrel with a faucet was installed, and each child brought his own drinking cup."

Mr. Theron Myers, father of Mignon Winn and principal, described the school in 1899 as having two rooms, two teachers, nine grades and one hundred fifty pupils. The older children were taught Latin, plane geometry and algebra. Students shared desks with wooden benches up in front for the classes who were reciting. Later the school had one hundred ninety pupils and three teachers!

Mrs. Riley remembered the school in 1900 as having a first and second grade room called the "little room', a similar sized room for the third, fourth, and fifth grades called the 'middle room', and the larger "big room" addition for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Water was carried from the depot for the coolers and sometimes the boys carrying the water put all sorts of things into it. Paddles and switches were used for discipline. In the winter children brought their sleds to school and slid down the hill to their homes. Mrs. Riley remembered her daughter Nellie Mae (a future teacher in Sewanee) not wanting to go to school on the first day if her father, a school board member, was going to be giving a talk. Nellie May said that she could hear him at home.

The recollections of Mrs. Jim Harrison covered the period 1908-1916. The school population was almost three hundred pupils with three teachers. There was no electricity?lanterns and lamps around the wall were used. Each fall a new bucket and rope were purchased from Brook's or Prince's stores for the well. "If you forgot to bring your individual folding cup you would borrow from your next seat neighbor, and if she wouldn't lend you hers, you went thirsty." Students brought lunches in buckets.

School board members, made up of local men, and parents visited the school often. Mrs. Harrison had remarked that she "wouldn't be a teacher and just have three dresses with different sets of collars and cuffs for change." The teachers' small salaries were called "warrants".

After the construction of the new public school Billy Goat Hill School was sold for $150, disassembled, and parts of it still exist today incorporated into framing and floors of older homes in town.

Sewanee Public School: 1924-2002

Although the citizens of Sewanee paid sales taxes, people living on land owned by the University of the South did not pay property taxes until the late 1960's. Since the beginning of the public school in Sewanee, many of the children attending the Sewanee Public School did not live on the University domain, but because the school buildings were located within these boundaries, the Franklin County Board of Education agreed to pay the salaries of teachers, but did not provide the buildings. As an unincorporated town Sewanee did not have any taxing facilities. For almost fifty years the voluntary commitment of the town to its children had maintained its educational system. By the early 1920's the school on Billy Goat Hill was overcrowded and becoming dilapidated. When the Sewanee Civitan Club, today called the Sewanee Civic Association, was organized, its general objective of good citizenship included a comprehensive program looking to the betterment and improvement of every phase of community activity. One special objective of the program was the providing of school facilities for the grammar grades.

Beginning in 1922, the minutes of the Civitan Club recorded the efforts of the citizens of the town to sponsor and build a new public school. "Contrary to the expectations of the Club, the State and County are unable to contribute toward the defrayment of the expense of the new building, because of the fact that it will be situated on ground leased by the University. It is a Tennessee law that the State and County cannot give appropriations for educational buildings to be placed on land leased by other than State or County Institutions. Since the University is unable to aid in the defrayment of expenses the burden of the project is upon the shoulders of the Civitan Club." The proposed building would be located on ground leased from the University of the South, owned by the Sewanee Civitan Club, and operated by County School Board which would provide the teachers and pay the operating expenses.

The proposal was carried forward by acclamation and within minute's names and pledges were received that started them on their goal of $10,000. An account, overseen by Herman Green, was opened at the local bank where people could deposit their pledges. The University promised to contribute the stone for the building and $1,000 as soon as the other $9,000 was secured in cash and estimated labor. Mr. A.M. Githens, architect of Johnson and Cannon Hall at the University, donated the plans for the four rooms, mountain stone structure and auditorium. A play given by the French club raised $43.00. Additional funds were raised by means of bridge parties, a play, "Professor Pep", given by village children, and a fancy dress ball, which alone netted $75!

The first step in the construction of the new school was the removal of St. Paul's church to Happy Hollow. Material from the torn down St. Paul's was used to build a temporary school for the black community. When this new school (located near the present Head Start Kennerly School) was completed in 1936 the name was changed to St. Mark's in honor of St. Mark's Guild, a student missionary organization begun in 1869.

"The cornerstone of the new Sewanee Public School building was laid on July 9, 1924. Harry Clark officiated at the ceremony. Professor MacKellar gave the address, since the Assistant State Superintendent of Schools, who had been asked to speak upon that occasion, was unable to be present on account of a delay caused by the breaking down of his automobile. The stone was laid by the Masons." (The Sewanee Purple, July24, 1924) In her brief history of the school, Mignon Winn adds to this description, "One raw, windy day the student body and faculty consisting of Mr. Theron Myers and two other teachers, marched from the school to the site of the present Sewanee Public School for the laying of the cornerstone and a speech by Major William MacKeller. The old Andrews house, formerly located here, had burned; and Major 'Mac' stood on the old hearthstone to deliver his speech."

"Work had begun on the new school on November 6, 1924. Citizens of the community and a few students of the University cleared the ground and completed the foundation excavation, with the ladies serving a bountiful picnic. Students of the University and cadets of the Military Academy assisted in furnishing part of the building. The Senior Grammar School class agreed to furnish the front door. Money was raised by the Eastern Star and kindred organizations." (Sewanee Purple, Nov. 12, 1924-Trudy Mignery)

John Henry Castleberry was paid $7.50 per day to be the Superintendent of Construction and Fred Reid was in charge of the stonework. People donated labor, often working on the school after finishing their day jobs. The citizens of the mountain built their school. A Civitan letter to the community stated, "This beautiful and dignified $18,000 structure, built from plans donated by Mr. A.M. Githens, architect of Johnson and Cannon Halls, stands as an enduring witness to the ability of this community to do big things when everybody lends a helping hand. As such it is worth the toil and self-denial and sacrifice that have gone into this building."

The school was dedicated at the beginning of the 1926 school year. Mr. Ralph Black was the first principal. The following year Mr. Theron Myers became principal of the school that included eight grades and two years of high school with five teachers. (Hopes to have Sherwood and Alto schools come in and make possible a four year high school never materialized and the school dropped its own high school section in 1940.) The County paid Mr. Myers $1800 and the community added $300 to his salary.

The school population continued to grow. In his principal's reports Mr. Myers writes that in 1929 the school had 180 pupils and four teachers. By June 1932 there were 245 students. The Civitan Club realized that an addition was already needed and in 1933 the "Roosevelt Addition" was built with the aid of the PWA and the assistance of a number of the town's people. This addition included the two classrooms on either side of the old stage and two classrooms below.

At this same time the Women's Club fostered a project to establish a soup kitchen and provide hot lunches for the children. Located in the Parish House across the street, the cook, Mariah Barker was given $2.50 a week and lent her stove. Children paid five cents per meal or what they could for a bowl of soup, day old bread, and a glass of milk. Families contributed vegetables for the soup and when the children brought enough berries Mrs. Barker would bake a pie.

Minutes from the Civitan Club during the late 1930's and 1940's help clarify the working relationship between the Franklin County School Board and the Civitan/Civic Association:

1943 - "The school built at no expense to the County was for several years free of rent to the county, but when the insurance and maintenance costs could not be paid by the County during the depression of the 30's, the building was returned to the Civitan Club and was rented to the County for less than the actual cost of maintenance and insurance, a source of continuing concern. Negotiations were begun to get the County to assume more responsibility for the school"

1943 - "Extended the school year 1 month-raised money to do so. Extended the Negro school, too. Franklin County provides a school year of only eight months. Community Chest funds have been used for the last three years to give Sewanee children a ninth month of school. These four extra weeks make possible a richer curriculum, and allow time for the several extra-curricular activities that have, in recent years, added so much to the life of the school and the community." More than half of the town's Community chest budget continued to be used for allocations to the school, for enrichment and the purchase of basic supplies.

In 1948 the school opened the Nellie Mae Riley Library. The local citizens donated many of the books.

In 1950 the Civic Association also solicited funds to build a permanent schoolhouse for the African-American children. Made of concrete blocks, the school had a large classroom, bathroom, restrooms and kitchen and was named after John "Fess" Kennerly who had devoted much of his life to educating the children. After his death in 1949 his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Kennerly was employed as the teacher.

By the end of the 1940's and the early 1950's the needs for repairs and expansion began to outpace the ability of the Civic Association and donations from the members of Sewanee and the other small mountaintop communities to fund the school. Negotiations began in 1949 to turn the school building over to the County in exchange for an addition of a gymnasium and lunchroom. This was finally accomplished in 1955. A quote from the 1956 PTA newsletter written by James E. Thorogood summarizes this process best:

"Until last summer, the University owned the Public School, and the Civic Association had a School Committee, which tried to look after the school. The County rented the school from us, but we had to do the repairs, replace worn-out roofs, floors, plumbing, furnace, etc. We had to pay the insurance, pay part of the janitor's wages, and do any improvements we could. This would have cost about $5,000 a year to do a good job, but the County would only pay us $1,000 a year (rent). By last spring the furnace was completely worn out and could not be used anymore. The Civic Association had no money for replacement of the furnace or anything else. It looked as though we would have to close down the school when cold weather came.

At this point, since we were unable to take care of the school ourselves, it was suggested that we strike a bargain with the County. The Civic Association got permission from the University which owns the building and the land to turn the school over to the County provided the County would make certain improvements, give us a new furnace and cafeteria, and take responsibility for keeping up the school in the future

This was done. The County authorized $50,000 for a new furnace and other improvements."

Thorogood finished this report by saying, "I don't believe there is another town in the world with so many generous and public-spirited citizens and I wish I could mention every person by name." PTA Chairman, Mrs. Robert P. Moore added, "A community is unquestionably reflected in its school and the reverse is also true. We point with pride and gratitude to our Sewanee Public School and the accomplishments of this year as very real evidence of a true spirit of community."

In 1960 two more classrooms were needed and the county built the first brick addition next to the stone school. At this time the Sewanee Civic Association petitioned to integrate the school starting one grade at a time with the first grade. This did not occur. In 1964 the County lost an integration suit filed by eight families in the county. In order to have all the children in the Sewanee area go together to school in one building the Sewanee Civic Association had a town meeting to discuss the need for an additional four classrooms. A portion of a 1965 letter written to the community by the Community Chest chairman of the Civic Association, T. Felder Dorn eloquently sums up the results:

"Slightly over a year ago, our community was faced with a crisis in our public school. The Sewanee Public School was overcrowded, with some classes meeting in Claiborne Parish House across the highway; the Kennerly School was conceded to be an inadequate educational plant, in terms of physical facilities and because it provided only two teachers for eight grades. These problems were greatly intensified when a Federal court ordered a geographical zoning plan for desegregation. Sewanee's response to this crisis was to offer to furnish adequate space for all pupils under one roof, by constructing four rooms on the Sewanee Public School.

In order to accomplish this, Sewanee citizens devoted time and energy to negotiations, persuasions and solicitations' contributed substantial sums of cash and/or made generous pledges to the building fund; and in the case of eighteen residents, made loans with no assurance of repayment but their faith in the community. The effort, excitement, and frustration of the initial fund drive, and the fact that the rooms were completed and occupied last November are now part of our community record."

An article in the March 2, 1964 Chattanooga Times said, "Sewanee is believed to be the only community in the nation to dig into its own pockets to provide facilities making total school desegregation possible."

In the last thirty years principals have included Fred Langford, Mary Sue Cushman, Ann Turlington, Ruth Ramseur, Ann Watkins, and the current principal, Mike Maxon.

In the early 1980's a kindergarten room was added onto the primary wing. Extensive renovations and additions occurred during 1983-84 when a new library was built, the original stone building was connected to the primary wing, ramps were installed, the old auditorium was turned into office space, and the lower section of the Roosevelt addition was turned into one large and two smaller classroom spaces. Principal Ruth Ramseur credited Maury (Bimi) McGee for volunteering information and planning that made the complicated task easier. The following year, 1985, a new cafeteria was built.

In 1989 the Sherwood Elementary School was closed and approximately 25-28 children from Sherwood, a teacher, and several aides became part of the Sewanee Public School community.

During the 1990's the community explored the possibility of either building a new school in a new location or building an addition. In 1999 Franklin County funded an addition that consisted of six classrooms for grades four through six, a computer room, a teacher's workroom and a stage. Discovering that this last addition would take place right over the site of the first school building, the original St. Paul's on the Mountain, the sixth graders participated in a simple archaeological dig. No whole treasures were found, but many bits and pieces of colored glass, crockery, and coal served to connect this circle and remind the children of their school's rich and full past.

After Franklin County took over the support of the Sewanee Public School, the Sewanee Civic Association continued to focus much of its annual Community Chest money on funding for the school. In the past thirty years, the community has annually contributed money that has paid for an additional classroom teacher and part time teachers in art, computer, library, music, physical education, and science. These donations also have funded visiting artists, the purchase of classroom computers, teacher workshops, special field trips, and a summer recreation program located at the school. This commitment to funding many of the school's needs has served the intentional purpose of eliminating the door-to-door fundraising that many school children have to do. The 2007-2008 Community Chest drive collected $86,000 from over 400 individuals. Of this amount approximately $25,000 will go to the Sewanee Elementary School!

In addition to this financial support, the community sustains its history of volunteer work at the school. People come together to tutor, work in the library, improve the playground, teach "Friday School", and share their interests and expertise with the children who are here. We strive to make the history of this school one that reflects the nurture and caring of the past one hundred thirty years.

Many people served as sources for this history of the Sewanee Elementary School. We gratefully acknowledge the following: Annie Armour, Scott Bates, Arthur Ben Chitty, Elizabeth N. Chitty, Ilene Degen, Pat Makris, Una McBee, Trudy Mignery, Ina May Myers, Gary Phillips, Ruth Ramseur, Ann Watkins, Mignon Winn, Mike Winn, and The Sewanee Messenger

A Community Profile of Sewanee, Tennessee

Map, census reports, letters and historical research reflect that the town or village or Sewanee is nearly as old as the University of the South itself. It had been Bishop Quintard?s idea to form a model village around the University and he gathered ideas from abroad. Many skilled foreign workmen were encouraged to come to Sewanee, and many original business owners were of foreign descent. A map of 1858 showed eight buildings with only a couple of them located in what is now the downtown area.

In 1834 the newly formed Sewanee Mining Company bought tracts of land from various homesteaders for a coal-mining project. In 1858 the company deeded five thousand acres of land to the newly formed University with the stipulation that the school open within ten years. An additional five thousand acres, donated by individuals, created the Domain of the University. The corner stone was laid in 1860 and the school officially opened in 1868. By the University?s opening day the village had formed into a true business community on a double-lined street; Sewanee had become a self-sufficient economic entity. The first business leasehold cost $1 and was given to Charles Hayes in 1870. By 1872, Sewanee was a thriving community with 30 private dwellings and 100 buildings in the village. Also, by 1872 leasehold prices had increased to $25. The first store, which sold dry goods and groceries, was owned by Pleasant Gillem. It also housed the telegraph office. The first official post office had been a box nailed to a tree next to the railroad station

The public school was built in 1926. It is now called Sewanee Elementary School and is located on University Avenue across the street from Otey Parish Memorial Church. The American Legion Hall, also on University Avenue was built in 1949. These buildings stand as the gateway to the downtown district.

Downtown Sewanee has been the home of butchers and bakers, stables and salons, dry goods and groceries, dress shops, art galleries, travel agencies, bookstores, gourmet shops, skating rinks, gas stations and garages, cafes, gift shops, florists and others. Currently, there are 20 businesses, the public utilities, the school and the U.S. post office in the downtown village. There are many businesses associated with the University located closer to the campus of the college along with cottage industries housed throughout the town of Sewanee and surrounding areas. These include artist studios, bed and breakfasts, contractors, freelance writers, publishers, lawyers, and computer companies and on-line businesses. There is also a privately owned hospital and doctors? complex at the opposite end of town.

The community of Sewanee, with a population of approximately 2,500 residents, is a close-knit community that takes pride in its Community Chest fund drive, Fourth of July celebration, children, parks, trees, diversity, and history. The University, which is the largest employer in Franklin County, presently employs approximately 540 faculty and staff and had a total payroll of $22 million for the year ended June 30, 2001. A Board of Trustees drawn from the University?s 28 owning Episcopal dioceses governs the University. The Trustees? Community Relations Committee holds open town meetings twice a year to hear and act on issues of concern to the Sewanee community. The Vice Chancellor is, ex officio, in charge of all operations on the Domain. He is advised by the Community Council on all issues affecting the community, from deer populations to drinking water quality. The Council is comprised of members who are elected from four districts, and at-large representatives appointed by the Vice Chancellor. The University Lease Committee advises the Vice Chancellor on residential housing and property development. Other community committees that speak for constituents include the independent Sewanee Leaseholders Association and the independent Sewanee Business Association.

The University provides police, fire and emergency medical services to Sewanee. The fire and EMS squads are almost entirely staffed by volunteers, including college and seminary students. The University arranges for sanitation services to over 900 residential and commercial locations. Additionally, Waste Not, a volunteer student organization, recycles glass, paper and cans through centrally located drop-off receptacles. The University owns and maintains the Sewanee airport. The University also does maintenance of public spaces in Sewanee, including mowing grass and providing public trash receptacles. It supplements the county?s roadwork by providing extra winter maintenance on roads and sidewalks and by trimming and removing trees.

Sewanee residents and University employees proudly participate in the county?s life in many capacities, such as the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the board of the Foundation for Educational Excellence, Leadership Franklin County, the board of Southern Tennessee Medical Center, and the Franklin County Coordinating Committee that created the county?s growth management plan. Faculty and staff from six academic departments, including biology, economics and geology and forestry, are researching economic growth and quality of life in FranklinCounty. The Landscape Analysis Lab has also helped the county use Geographic Information Science in county operations.

About three years old, the volunteer-organized Sewanee Animal Rescue League works in cooperation with the Franklin County Humane Society. To date, the League has placed over 100 animals in homes.

Sewanee?s Beautification Committee awards recognition to homeowners and businesses that fix up and maintain attractive properties. Students and employees organize clean-up days to pick up trash and beautify area roads. The independent Abbo?s Alley Association maintains a natural area in the heart of campus.

Since the main work of the University is to educate college and seminary students, it offers college scholarships to Franklin County High School graduates. Many of our seminarians provide pastoral and liturgical assistance to churches in Franklin County as part of their training.

The University Chapel runs a variety of community outreach programs that allow students to work for the greater community. Housing Sewanee, an independent non-profit organization that builds affordable homes for low-income citizens, is about to finish its tenth house. Volunteers tutor and help teach students at Head Start while Big People for Little People matches college students with elementary school students for mentoring. The Greater Sewanee Community Outreach Fund, started last year at the initiative of a Sewanee alumnus who wanted to give something back to the community that had nurtured him as a student, is rebuilding the ball park, used by 170 children for youth soccer and 100 for Little League.

The University is a Partner in Education with Sewanee Elementary School. Approximately 15 college students a year, who are funded by the University, federal work-study money, the Sewanee Community Chest and the P.T.O. each work eight hours a week at Sewanee Elementary School as teacher?s aides and academic tutors. Community volunteers also participate in all aspects of the Sewanee Elementary School?s life, including running the Friday School, a program of extracurricular activities.

The general public is invited to University lectures, art shows, movies, theatrical productions, chapel services, concerts, athletic games, and other cultural and community events. The Fowler Center, the University?s multi-use athletic facility, and the Golf and Tennis Club are available for use through membership.

Our Philosophy

Welcome to Sewanee Elementary School, a community school that embraces parental and community involvement.  Our wonderfully creative and enthusiastic staff believes in preparing every child not only academically for the next step in their education but also socially, emotionally, and physically.  To this end, Sewanee believes in teaching across the curriculum and teaching outside the four walls.

At SES the arts are an integral part in the education of the whole child.  Throughout the school year, every grade is involved in a musical skit in which they not only are learning acting and music, but also, history, culture and public speaking.  Each year our students participate in several county wide art competitions as well. With support from our PTO, the Nashville Opera annually visits.  Our very involved PTO even organizes what has become a very successful book swap at the end of each school year.

We strive to find opportunities for students to take an active role in the life of the school.  Each year during American Education Week our students dress as their favorite book character/author to encourage and share the love and joy of reading.  Throughout the year students participate in a Famous Persons Wax Museum or other such academic endeavor.  We have an annual staff that is student oriented.   Our weekly assemblies offer a time to sing together, recognize students, and to welcome special guests.    

At SES science does not begin and end in a textbook.  Our Science Fair is unique to this area.  The kindergartners and the first graders complete a joint project while the students in grades two through five put together individual projects and must be prepared to defend them when interviewed by the judges.  We have a nature trail that ties in nicely with our studies of the environment.  Sewanee’s fourth and fifth graders occasionally participate in the National Geographic’s Geography Bee and we have a fifth grade math team that participates in a county-wide math competition.  

A great example of intertwining the arts, the traditional curriculum, and teaching outside the four walls is Friday School.  Now in its thirty-seventh year (1977), Friday School welcomes volunteers from Cowan to Monteagle to come together to share their talents and areas of expertise with the students.  Spread out over four Friday afternoons, the students have the opportunity to take classes such as ecology, Spanish, gardening, nature hiking, arts & crafts, and tennis.  The students would rather have Friday School than a snow day!

In an effort to keep the students mentally and physically fit, SES offers an intramural program many mornings before the school day begins.  Also, the students and parents are encouraged to participate in the internationally recognized Walk to School Day.  We are proud of our outstanding athletes who compete in the nationally recognized Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick competition or on our basketball team.  We are pleased by our students’ victories but, more importantly, we are proud that both the boys’ and girls’ teams play with heart, desire and good sportsmanship.

Volunteers are an important resource in all that we accomplish.  On any given day throughout the school year, an extraordinary group of parents, retirees, college students and community volunteers can be found working with students, reading in small groups, assisting students with their math, or helping our students to appreciate the environment that surrounds our school.  

At SES we are proud to be a school with a family atmosphere, where everyone pulls together for a common goal; the education of our children.

Program Indicators

Sewanee Elementary School serves students from preschool through grade five. The educational opportunities at Sewanee Elementary are vast and varied. In addition to the standard academic courses, there is instruction by certified teachers of music, art, library science, physical education, and guidance counseling.

Classroom teachers use an array of creative teaching techniques, as varied and diverse as their own personalities. All students are encouraged to write creatively at every grade level ? poetry, short stories, plays essays, and daily journal writing, and many classes participate in essay and poetry writing contests. Oral communication is also emphasized with intermediate students participating in weekly poetry recitations, projects presented to classmates and peers, portfolios presented to students and parents, and choral recitations at weekly assemblies. At the yearly Science Fair, community professionals interview students to determine their level of knowledge. Hands-on Science activities are frequently utilized with outdoor educational experiences to enrich textbook curriculum. There is a great emphasis on map skills, geography, and a sense of place. Teachers often take advantage of professional expertise in the community, inviting guest speakers from The University of the South and the surrounding area to enrich and enlighten the students whenever appropriate. Students are given opportunities to complete advanced levels of class work and homework as indicated by individual needs and learning styles. Small group instruction is used within the classroom to research and explore topics of high interest and to engage in problem-solving activities. Sewanee Elementary teachers are committed to education of the total child, while providing for individual differences.

Music education is provided to all students two times a week for 55 minutes by a Music Specialist. The primary method of instruction is Orff-Schulwerk. Students integrate speech, movement, instrument playing and singing to experience being musicians. Musical programs are presented for the school and community during the school year, with all students being involved in at least one performance. Students alternate attending Art and Music every six weeks.

All grade levels participate in two fifty-five minute Art education classes every week featuring a cross-integration of visual arts with social studies/history, science, math and language arts. The content of the visual arts program is based on the four disciplines of art: artistic perception, creative art process, art history, and art criticism. Through these four disciplines, students progressively learn that their multi-sensory experiences help them perceive and identify the visual elements of art (line, shape, color, value, texture, form, and space) and the visual principles of design (unity, variety, emphasis, balance, proportion, pattern, and rhythm). Students learn to experiment with art techniques, tools, and materials, and a wide variety of art medias in coloration with art appreciation through historical and cultural context. Students, also, progressively learn about exploring art ? perceiving, analyzing, comparing, contrasting, evaluating, and judging their own and others' artwork. Positive attitudes are reinforced through thoughtful responses, as well as through group evaluation. Student work is prominently displayed throughout the school to demonstrate to visitors the talent of student artists at work. The Art Education Program at Sewanee Elementary strives to help students cultivate a continuing love of art for expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and to realize a higher quality of life in society as a result of their understanding and appreciation of the arts. Refurbished in 2005, SES boasts one of the best art rooms in the area.

Sewanee Elementary School has a library collection of over 9,000 books for our students and teachers to use for reading enjoyment and research needs. Computers with internet access are also available to supplement research. Our library consists of a main public room with tables and chairs, a small conference room for small group instruction, a librarian's office, a workroom, and the Rachel Gibson Reading Room which is available for small groups to read in a cozy, home-like atmosphere. All of our books are bar coded and the Athena library software is used to manage our circulation and cataloging systems. All students have one scheduled period of library instruction each week at which time grade level appropriate skills, such as dictionary, encyclopedia, and atlas and almanac skills are taught. Students also have a 15 minute time slot in which to check out books each week, and the library is available for students and teachers at other times during the week when the librarian is not conducting classes.

Physical Education is an integral part of the total educational process at Sewanee Elementary School. The focus of the program is to prepare and motivate all students to engage in activities that promote health and physical well being. Physical Education is offered twice each week for forty-five minutes for all classes. Personal health and wellness are a part of each physical education lesson with a purpose of establishing a desire in children to maintain fitness and wellness throughout their lives. The Fitness Gram is used to assess the major components of physical fitness (aerobic capacity, muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility). Our students also participate in national programs such as The American Heart Association's "Jump Rope for Heart", the NFL's "Punt, Pass and Kick," P.E. Central's "P.E. Challenge," and "Walk to School" day. A school wide "field day" is held each spring to emphasize the importance of recreational physical activity in our daily lives. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in intramural sports activities (flag football, indoor soccer, floor hockey, basketball, and volleyball) outside of the regular school day. The goal of our Physical Education program is for children to enjoy being active, learn important fitness concepts, develop good social skills, and maintain a positive self-concept.

A certified Guidance Counselor conducts weekly guidance classes for all students as well as small group and individual counseling sessions. The primary program used for classroom guidance is the Second Step Program. SES hosted a training session for Second Step for kindergarten through third grade teachers; during which time all elementary guidance counselors in the county were also trained. Supplementary material is taken from the Peaceable Schools Program, which is endorsed by the State Department of Education, the Right Choice Program that is approved by our local Board of Education, and other materials, focusing on specific topics relevant to the participants. Educational, personal/social, and career development are the three domains addressed with the students. Parent consultations and teacher consultations are also encouraged.

A Speech Pathologist is assigned to the school to serve the needs of students in Speech Therapy and Language Development. These services are given twice a week to those students who qualify.

A full-time Resource teacher is on campus to provide one to one and small group instruction for students with special needs. Services are tailored to meet the individual needs of the students as indicated by individualized educational programs (IEP's). The resource teacher focuses on character education, prevocational skills, use of math manipulatives, and incorporation of SRA corrective reading, SRA connect math, and SRA reasoning and writing programs. The Resource teacher also meets with classroom teachers to assess student needs, arranges meetings with parents to evaluate the need for special services that may help their child, and makes arrangements for testing and review of services.

In the intermediate wing, a well-equipped science lab is available. Stocked to facilitate the science curriculum, it contains a television, DVD player, computer, several microscopes as well as a multitude of supplies. The walls are painted with science-related murals. In addition to this indoor resource, a nature trail has been developed through a Howard Hughes grant to offer students an outdoor science experience.

Sewanee Elementary is also equipped with a Computer Lab, complete with twenty-five Dell computers and a printer. Teachers may use the Computer Lab as they wish on a "sign up" basis. All classrooms have at least two computers for teacher and student use. Computers have Internet access to enable students to participate in long distance learning and research.

The South Central Human resource Agency out of Fayetteville, TN sponsors a Foster grandparent program. Sewanee Elementary benefits greatly from this program with our foster grandparent, Madeline Prince. She works with several students who need daily one on one caring and help with their academics.

Extra Curricular Activities

Extra curricular activities at Sewanee Elementary School take many forms. All children are given many opportunities to participate in various programs.

Each spring our fifth graders have the opportunity to participate in a county wide math competition sponsored by the Board of Education.

The PE program offers intramural sports programs are open to all students and take place before regular school hours. In addition there is the PE challenge, Jump Rope for Heart, along with Punt, Pass, and Kick.

The countywide basketball program is available to fourth and fifth grade students. They are involved in a 20 game schedule with the other area elementary schools.

Additional activities include the Geography Bee, Annual Staff, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the school wide music programs in which all students are encouraged to participate. The fifth grades have an opportunity to participate in an after school enrichment program and a Math team. A Spanish club is offered as well and volunteers from the Univ. of the South teach Spanish.