Horizons at USN enriches scholars for 11th summer

University School of Nashville’s free academic enrichment program includes daily swim lessons and studies in math, reading, science, and writing to reduce summer learning loss among 125 scholars.
By Ian Dinkins, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Horizons at USN continued to make waves as it wrapped up another successful summer session of providing academic enrichment camp to public school students at no cost to their families. Established at University School of Nashville in 2014, Horizons has added one grade of students each summer, now accommodating 125 scholars in rising grades 1-11.

For five to six weeks each summer, Horizons at USN offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to prevent the summer slide often experienced by children while away from school. Scholars engage in daily classes focusing on math, reading, science, and writing taught by USN and Metro Nashville Public School teachers and bolstered by hands-on learning experiences inside and during field trips to local landmarks. A hallmark of Horizons, scholars take 30 minutes of swim lessons daily to learn an important life skill and build their confidence. 

With scholars able to return to Horizons each summer, each one is able to build a relationship with fellow scholars and build on the lessons learned from previous years. 

“Over the summer, we’ve been able to help teachers with things like errands, tutoring, and even conflict resolution, said Jaylee Reeves, who has been coming to Horizons at USN in elementary school. She and other returning scholars in high school have been paying it forward this summer by assisting in the pool and in classrooms to help give the scholars the same experience they had. “I’ve also learned a lot about assertiveness and taking initiative by working with the younger students.”

On Tuesday, July 2, scholars showcased the work they created over the past five weeks during a museum-style Open House in Cheek Gym. Among their displays were reports and artwork on butterflies and the solar system, self-authored and graphically illustrated short stories, and mannequins with hair braided by rising 10th graders.

Horizons at USN Executive Director Kim Avington has been with the summer program since its inception at USN and was named as one of two recipients of the 2023 Horizons Leadership Award. This award recognizes a Horizons Director who contributes in special ways to their affiliate and the Horizons Network as a whole and who embodies the spirit of Horizons.

"After a parent brought it to his attention, [former USN Director Vince Durnan] was speaking about Horizons one day in the hallway, and I was intrigued in what it could be here at USN," said Avington, who also teaches fourth grade at USN.

Horizons at USN operates on a mission to support public school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, providing them with opportunities they might not otherwise have access to during summer break. By partnering with local public schools and community organizations, Horizons aims to bridge educational gaps and empower students to reach their full potential.

"We're incredibly proud of the impact Horizons has had on students in our communities over the years," remarked USN Director Amani Reed. "Beyond academic skills, we see growth in confidence, leadership, and a genuine love for learning."

As Horizons at USN celebrates another successful summer, the program remains committed to expanding its reach and impact in the Nashville community. With ongoing support from donors, volunteers, and dedicated staff, the future looks bright for the students participating in this transformative educational experience.

For more information about Horizons at USN, including how to support or enroll in the program, visit usn.org/horizons.

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USN Mission: 
University School of Nashville models the best educational practices. In an environment that represents the cultural and ethnic composition of Metropolitan Nashville, USN fosters each student’s intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential, valuing and inspiring integrity, creative expression, a love of learning, and the pursuit of excellence.