The school is constituted as a parents’ cooperative and operated by parents through a Board of Directors. Parental participation is the lifeblood of the school. The Sewanee Children’s Center offers a comprehensive early learning program designed to meet the developmental needs of each child. The program is responsive to the needs of local families and children.


The school opened in 1949 under the name Sewanee Nursery School and Kindergarten, Incorporated, offering morning care primarily to university faculty children. In 1967 the Board began an extensive scholarship program to offer the benefits of a preschool experience to the whole community. This diversity provided a broader cultural experience for all. In 1977, the school extended its program to provide afternoon care for preschoolers and children through second grade. In 1983 our name was changed to Sewanee Children’s Center in order to reflect our wide-ranging program. In 1997, the school extended its program to provide care through eight-year-olds. The Center is licensed by the state of Tennessee under the Department of Human Services and is a Three-Star agency–the highest rating possible. The Center is an exempt organization under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


SCC provides an environment that uses the constructivist theory of learning to address our children’s intellectual, emotional, physical, and social growth. Constructivist learning is based on children’s active participation in problem-solving and critical thinking in a learning activity that they find relevant and engaging. They are “constructing” their own knowledge by testing ideas and approaches based on their prior knowledge and experience and applying these to a new situation that they then integrate with what they already know. We use the Reggio Emilia and Project approaches to teaching to guide our teaching practices and to inform our curriculum development that supports constructivist learning.* We rely on a network of communication between the children, Parents and teachers to create a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and co-construction of knowledge. Working together, we build a culture which respects childhood as a time to explore, create and be joyful. We strive to create a school environment that provides children with a sense of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic. We believe that every child can learn and we want our children to experience success, a feeling of self-worth, and a love for learning.

The school has always welcomed children of all faith traditions and, notwithstanding its long and warm association with Otey Parish, has attempted not to bias its program in favor of any particular faith tradition. At lunch, teachers offer the opportunities to say a blessing and/or to relax quietly for a moment before beginning the meal.  We encourage our children to share books and songs that are special to them during holidays throughout the year.

Please refer to the following links for further information regarding these theories and approaches: www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism; Project Approach: http://projectapproach.org, http://www.reggiokids.com/the_reggio_approach.html.


SCC uses the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards (http://tn.gov/education/article/earlylearningdevelopmentstandards) to guide our curriculum development. We provide curriculum that is age appropriate, stimulating and active. We incorporate activities that facilitate growth in motor, visual, auditory, and language development. Children have opportunities to acquire concepts and skills in science, social studies, mathematics, writing and reading readiness through large-and small-group instruction, indoor and outdoor learning centers and field trips. For the 2015-2016 school year, all children will have a music class on Mondays. Other special classes have included yoga, dance, and French. We utilize the gifts and talents of our families and community members and welcome them to our classrooms to enrich our program.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Sewanee Children’s Center does not discriminate in admissions, hiring, or other employment practices on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law. Our building is handicap-accessible. We are supported by funding from the Sewanee Community Chest and Otey Memorial Parish.