Vanderbilt partnering with Metro Nashville Public Schools to offer new master’s program for urban teachers

Those wishing to teach in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will have the opportunity to earn a Vanderbilt University master’s degree designed expressly for them beginning this summer, Vanderbilt and MNPS announced today.

The new program is focused on improving teaching in urban middle schools and is the result of a partnership between Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development and MNPS. Sharon Yates, lecturer in education, will direct the new program.

“Peabody College and MNPS both share a goal of improving learning for Nashville’s students, and highly effective teachers make the critical difference,” Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Peabody, said. “We are very excited to be partnering with Metro on an innovative program like this.”

The program will prepare students to teach in upper elementary grades through grade 8 with a focus on one of three areas: literacy, mathematics or science. It will be open to recent college graduates, as well as new and existing teachers.

“This program will serve multiple purposes,” MNPS Director of Schools Jesse Register said. “It will provide top training to our teachers, which will directly impact classroom instruction, and it will assist in our recruitment of the country’s most talented and promising young teachers.”

A primary goal of the new program, “Master’s in Teaching and Learning in Urban Schools,” is recruiting and retaining excellent teachers who continue teaching in MNPS schools after they graduate. The program will focus on improving instruction, improving student outcomes, changing assessment practices and creating communities of reflective committed teachers dedicated to working with their MNPS colleagues to foster systemic improvement.

Students will first be accepted into the Vanderbilt master’s program this summer. Those who are not current MNPS employees will then be hired by the school district. The students will begin teaching in a project-affiliated MNPS school the first fall, and will complete 30 hours of coursework in two years.

The first group of 24 students will enroll this summer. Individuals interested in applying to the program should contact the Peabody College Office of Graduate Admissions at (615) 322-8410 or visit the Peabody College website at Students will attend the program tuition-free but will agree to teach in MNPS schools for three years following graduation.

The curriculum will include rigorous courses that will be supported by on-site coaching and mentoring from Peabody faculty. Every semester students will participate in a seminar that will address urban issues and provide a setting for discussing classroom instruction.

Peabody researchers will track the progress of the program and document its creation and implementation so other universities and school districts may one day replicate it.

“We believe this program will be sufficiently distinctive, indeed innovative, that it may become a lighthouse program of its kind nationally,” Benbow said.

The Peabody Department of Teaching and Learning, which is one of the nation’s top-ranked teaching programs, will lead the program. Peabody College was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 school of education by U.S. News & World Report in 2009.

For more information about Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, visit

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools serve more than 76,000 students with the goal of being the first choice for families in Nashville and Davidson County. The governing body for MNPS is the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Board of Public Education, a nine-member group elected by residents of Metropolitan Nashville. For more information, please visit

Media contacts: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS
Noelle Mashburn, (615) 259-8405