Lower School

Our Lower School provides a learning environment that focuses on each child as an individual, a caring environment in which the teacher adapts what she is teaching in her classroom to the changing needs of each of her students. Our Lower School, starting with two-year-olds in our Jr. Cubs program, offers a child-centered education. Our curriculum is sequential – each lesson builds on what your child already knows. Your child receives new material when he is ready for it.

Our teachers use age-appropriate materials and a variety of teaching strategies to help your child master each tiny step in his education. Our focus is the whole child – as an academic, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual person.

A Warm and Great Learning Environment

Your child will flourish at a school in which he feels loved and valued. We provide meaningful and challenging opportunities to learn in a nurturing and safe environment. Our teachers know their students well and know what each child needs to feel good about himself and to succeed.

Your child’s study of language, reading, mathematics, science, and social studies in the Lower School is enriched with art, music, foreign language, library, technology, and physical education. Students are taught about respecting themselves, their classmates, and others. Our guidance counselor stresses character education and offers a flexible program to address the real needs of a particular child or class.

Our Lower School provides the building blocks for your child to be successful in our Middle School, a transition to the college-preparatory curriculum in our Upper School. The following are a few of the many reasons:

  • USJ offers a solid academic program beginning with Jr. Cubs, these two-year-olds are exposed to a broad literacy-based program that builds a foundation for reading, spelling, grammar, and writing skills. A good structured mathematics program also is introduced at this level. These little ones are building skills that will give them a solid foundation for all of the learning that will be introduced at the next levels. The best part is that it is fun and age-appropriate; the children think they are just playing, but playing is part of the learning process.
  • The character education program throughout the Lower School helps students develop skills for everyday living and the character and integrity to be good citizens.
  • Computer classes begin in Kindergarten. Our computer lab is equipped with 25 student computers and a full-time computer teacher.
  • Each child in Jr. Kindergarten to Fifth Grade participates in a musical production every year, and all Lower School students enjoy a well-rounded, basic music education.
  • Physical education classes are offered in each grade, Jr. Cubs-Fifth Grade.
  • Foreign language classes begin with the Jr. Cubs. Spanish is taught in Jr. Cubs through Second Grade, with a semester of French added in Third and Fourth Grades. A semester of Spanish and French are taught in Fifth Grade.
  • The science curriculum is enhanced by a hands-on science lab offered to students in First Grade through Fifth Grade.
  • All Lower School students have art class each week. The school is beautifully decorated with student artwork.
  • The Lower School library is an active and exciting center in our school. Weekly library classes are offered at each grade level. Students also have an opportunity to check out books at “Open Library” each morning and afternoon. The library also is open one day each week in the summer with a story time and an opportunity to check out books.
  • Part-Time Programs are available for Jr. Cubs and Cubs Students. The Part-Time Jr. Cubs program is Tuesday/Thursday, for Cubs, Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Add to all of the above a strong and highly qualified faculty, and it is clear that USJ's program is unequaled in the Jackson area. The teamwork between home and school provides a strong foundation that can only lead to success for our students.


USJ Announces New Lower School Director

JACKSON, TN — Louise Dunn has been named University School of Jackson’s Lower School Director effective July 2017, replacing Debbie Ford who announced her intention last spring to retire after 25 years of service to USJ. Dunn is currently vice- principal of the lower school at Gems American Academy, Abu Dhabi, UAE, a division of over 950 students where she has been since 2013.

Louise graduated from Norwich University in Vermont. She holds a master’s degree in Education from Endicott College in Massachusetts. She is completing her Doctorate in Education this year at Northeastern University in Boston.

Dunn began her teaching career at Saudi Arabian International School where she taught second grade. Her career has seen stops in Tahoma, Washington as well as Dubai and Norway. She has been an educator for 17 years.

“Louise Dunn is an articulate advocate for curricular innovations that enhance student learning and deepen the professional growth of teachers,” said Stuart Hirstein, USJ Head of School. “Her passion and care for students, combined with her commitment to faculty and families, have well prepared her to lead the Lower School at USJ over the coming years.”

Dunn’s husband is a former US Air Force pilot who currently instructs pilots for Etihad Airlines on the Boeing 777. They have two sons. Her eldest son graduated from the US Air Force Academy and is currently serving in Japan as a Captain. His younger brother graduated from the US Naval Academy and is presently serving as a Lieutenant J.G. in Virginia.

“I am very excited about the future and the opportunity to contribute to the rich learning environment that is USJ,” said Dunn. “The leadership of the school and their vision for the future align perfectly with my beliefs on education: a place that seeks to find the best possible avenues to reach all students through educational practices that are research-based. Additionally, when I visited campus, the friendly and welcoming faces of everyone I encountered struck me immediately, and I felt that this is a place where I can become part of the community.”

The search for the Lower School director’s position was conducted with the assistance of Southern Teachers Agency, an independent school search firm selected because of their national and global network. Dunn was selected from a group of outstanding local, national and international candidates. In addition to the firm, several people helped interview the four finalists on campus, including members of the Lower School faculty and members of the administration.

Dunn is committed to her students. “As an educator, I believe that I must always keep focused on what is good for the children in my care and remember the words of Benjamin Franklin when thinking of the learning environment of children: ‘Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.’ ”

Hirstein expressed gratitude for the strong leadership of Debbie Ford, as well as enthusiasm for the future. “Louise Dunn will be succeeding stable and accomplished leadership. Louise will inherit an outstanding faculty and a superb administrative team. She will assume a vital leadership role within an institution blessed with talented students, unparalleled opportunities for learning and growth, and great strength. Over the coming years, I look forward to reaffirming and creating the ideal of a school with a vibrant and compelling educational vision alongside our new director.”