By Juanita I.C. Traughber, Communications Director
Janet (Carney) Schneider, the school’s longest-serving faculty member, will retire in June. In August 1974, during her first faculty meeting at Peabody Demonstration School, the 24-year-old learned of Peabody College’s plans to close its Dem School. A group of parents leveraged their homes to purchase the school, also ensuring the longevity of her career at University School of Nashville, as the school was renamed the following year.
Since then, Schneider has worked as a personal counselor, earned her master’s degree and certification in counseling, and ushered thousands of students into their years beyond Edgehill as Director of College Counseling and Senior Class Dean. And her PDS termination letter is now archived in Vanderbilt University Special Collections.
Schneider’s trajectory from full-time teacher to creating the Office of College Counseling was meant to be temporary. She first stepped into the role of personal counselor while still maintaining a three-course load to replace two departing faculty. At that point, there was no formal college counseling program yet the colleges admissions process was growing more complex, she said. Schneider did all the personal counseling and scheduling for High School and created and oversaw a Winterim Program. She also started a 5-mile run called "Run with US" to raise money for scholarships, and assisted the Head of High School on the activities program, sponsored the cheerleaders, directed the first play of USN, played clarinet in the pep band, worked as Quiz Bowl Coach, created a Displinary Board to include students, and served on many committees to restructure and enhance the High school Program.
“As the college counseling program grew, I loved it, gave up more and more of my duties to accommodate the demand, while at the same time, more and more people were hired in the High School to take over other responsibilities,” Schneider said.
Today the Office of College Counseling has three full-time college counselors and an administrative assistant, and there is a separate counselor focused on social-emotional development and personal issues.
“Janet created a college counseling program that's one of our most respected and cherished school attributes. With more of an accent of the counseling element, the college component of her impressive work has helped launch so many promising young lives — in locations that are the envy of schools everywhere,” said Director Vince Durnan. “As impossible as it may be to imagine USN without Janet Schneider to nurture our culture and constituents, she's leaving us an invaluable gift ... the quality of the program she's built.”
As a member of the HS Leadership Team, she’s also played a major role in other High School hallmark events, like the retreat program, and dozens of annual workshops to prepare parents of juniors and seniors for college applications and admissions processes. In the 1990s, she began the USN traditions of Senior Induction and Senior Day to bookend and anchor students in their senior year.
She started the Nashville College Counselors Organization and has served in various roles in the Regional and National Association of College Admission Counselors.
“I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to grow (to grow up), to work with our students and parents, to create education and to solve problems, all the while finding such enjoyment working with talented and devoted colleagues,” Schneider wrote in her retirement announcement. “Being committed to such a valuable and successful endeavor, much bigger than myself, has been a joy beyond description, as have working with such amazing students, parents, and colleagues. Surely, there could be no better experience anywhere for my life’s work, and the time has flown by.”
She plans to spend her newly acquired time with friends and family, including husband Drew Schneider '75, her children, Joseph Schneider '03 and Eleanor (Schneider) Ries '05, and son-in-law Russell Ries ’02, as well as to stay involved in education in some form and pursue other interests.