Chinese principals, educational leaders at Vanderbilt for two-week exchange

Twenty-five Chinese principals and educational administrators are in Nashville Oct. 30 – Nov. 9 as part of an ongoing exchange between Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and South China Normal University.

The program, Education Leadership Learning Exchange (ELLE), is a three-year program, now in its second year.

“The theme for this year’s visit is ‘Weaving a Tapestry of Understanding,’” Tom Ward, an ELLE program coordinator and lecturer in the Peabody Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, said. “During the first year, the learning was more observational in nature as we got to know one another. During this second year, we can already tell that the learning will be much deeper.

“The activities will take the Chinese principals to see all of the conceivable varieties of American schools, from charter, to private, to magnet, to enhanced option, to everything in between,” Ward said. “They will observe leadership in operation, classroom teaching at multiple levels and also extracurricular activities, since they are a big part of education in the United States.”

The trip won’t be all work, however. The group will also visit Nashville-area attractions including the Wildhorse Saloon, the General Jackson, the Frist Museum and will even have a chance to go fishing on Percy Priest Lake.

“When we opened our homes to our guests, and when they opened theirs to us on our visit last year, we all realized that, culture aside, we really are not that different,” Ward said. “We are interested in the same things and are interested in learning from one another.”

The three-year Education Leadership Learning Exchange Program began in spring 2005 after a university delegation from Vanderbilt and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools visited China. The Chinese delegation then visited Nashville. Peabody doctoral student Xiu Cravens and Leadership Development Center director and lecturer Pearl Sims spearheaded the program’s development.

A group of Nashville school administrators and Peabody faculty have since traveled twice to South China Normal University, located in the city of Guangzhou. Nashville-area participants are selected from the Principals’ Leadership Academy of Nashville, a partnership between Vanderbilt, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville Public Education Foundation.

For more information about E.L.L.E., visit For more Vanderbilt news, visit

Media Contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS

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