Partnership between Metro Nashville Schools, Vanderbilt and Chinese university to train principals

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—A delegation of leaders from South China Normal University, one of the top 10 education colleges in China, will visit Nashville the week of Nov. 7 to formalize a partnership to train both American and Chinese principals in effective leadership, education and management skills.

“This is a three-way partnership between South China Normal University, Vanderbilt and Metro Schools,” Pearl Sims, director of the Leadership Development Center in the Vanderbilt Peabody Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, said. “No one has done anything like this before with principals.”

The new partnership will enable Nashville principals to learn from and exchange ideas with principals in the city of Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province of China, and will create new exchange opportunities for students and faculty at both universities.

“One area is an exchange of principals with the Guangzhou city schools and Metro Nashville Schools,” James Guthrie, chair of the Department of Leadership Policy and Organizations and professor of public policy and education, said. “Secondly, SCNU wants to send its masters degree students here for coursework. And, they also want our faculty to go to SCNU to train their faculty on how to train principals. The main goal of their visit here is to solidify this arrangement.”

The group has a packed schedule Nov.7-11, with events including a meeting with Peabody Dean Camilla Benbow and the PLAN team, a meeting with Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Lana Seviers and with the Nashville Metro School Board as well as visits to Nashville public schools.

The partnership is the brainchild of Peabody visiting scholar Hong Wang, vice director of the Principals Leadership Development Center at South China Normal University. While participating in Peabody’s Principals’ Leadership Academy of Nashville, or PLAN, Wang saw an opportunity to share PLAN’s techniques with her colleagues at SCNU, as well as to share with Nashville’s principals lessons learned by their Chinese counterparts.

“When I was talking with some principals who are participants in PLAN, I felt like there were so many commonalities in the schools that principals are facing, both Chinese principals and American principals,” Wang said. “I thought there might be a good opportunity for them to learn together and exchange ideas.”

SCNU President Guojian Wang, Zhiguang Liu, dean of the SCNU School of Public Administration, and Mingjin Zhong, director of the SCNU Office of Foreign Affairs will make the trip to Nashville. The visit follows up on a visit by Peabody Leadership, Policy and Organizations faculty Sims, Guthrie, Ellen Goldring and graduate student Xiu Cravens and Metro Nashville Director of Schools Pedro Garcia to South China Normal University in April 2005.
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Media contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS