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A school for boys in grades 7 - 12. Founded in 1867.

Academics at MBA

character brochureMBA students are vigorously involved in school life, both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. Because well-rounded growth is nurtured and encouraged at MBA, it is not unusual to find students fully engaged in intellectual pursuits while also contributing to athletic teams, dramatic and musical performance, community service, debate, and a host of other activities.

Small class sizes and an active advisory system contribute to a student's sense of belonging and importance as an individual in the school community. Here, you can learn more about the educational and extracurricular opportunities available at MBA.

A Classical Education for the Twenty-First Century 

MBA’s classical curriculum is innovative by design, yet grounded in fundamentals. Our teachers bring a sense of purpose to studying the classics by building a strong foundation presented with contemporary relevance. Within the framework of an integrated curriculum, a student will make connections across disciplines, examine theories with a critical eye, and see facts from various perspectives. To reason logically, to think creatively, and to communicate precisely; we want every boy to master the skills essential for success in college, his career, and in life. Whatever path he chooses to follow, the student graduating from MBA will be equipped with a classical education, the skills necessary to make sound decisions, and the ability to make significant contributions to society.

A Historical Perspective 

During the European Renaissance, Italian scholars saw the liberal arts as the key to individual growth, and to a free and just society. At the core of the liberal arts curriculum were history, moral philosophy, and eloquence, supported by letters, poetry, mathematics, astronomy, and music. Greek and Latin were studied to gain a better understanding of the great classical authors. Physical activity rounded out the training of the Renaissance man in a society known for creativity and the search for truth. The classical liberal arts curriculum was adopted in the sixteenth century by English boys’ schools to enhance the development of the spirit, mind, and body. 

At MBA we find ourselves – Gentlemen, Scholars, Athletes – still following the basic educational goal of the old academies: training boys to become well-rounded, virtuous, and wise individuals who are personally fulfilled and able to lead and to serve. Like the academies of the Enlightenment, we embrace new knowledge and perspectives as they prove valid and useful to our students. 

The skills at the core of classical education are as fundamentally important for today’s students as they have ever been. Investigation, discovery, and insight enable MBA graduates to become lifelong learners who readily adapt to the rapidly-changing world of the twenty-first century. While MBA’s curriculum remains rooted in Western civilization, it also promotes an inclusive global vision. For example, students are encouraged to study abroad through our International Exchange Program. MBA recognizes the benefit of a broad cultural perspective. 

MBA provides the skills and awareness necessary for academic and professional success. More importantly, however, it prepares young men to be balanced, open-minded, and constructive citizens of the world.

MBA Grading Scale

Advanced Placement National Scholars have achieved an average score of 4 or above on all AP examinations with an actual score of 4 or 5 on a minimum of eight exams.

2017 Advanced Placement National Scholars

John Cooper
Asher Curnutte
Tony Huang
Warner Lamar
JP Mappes
Joe McMahan
Tom Peters
Will Peters
Ben Rosenthal
Cole Thornton
Noah Wamble
Micah White
Alvin Zhang

2016 Advanced Placement National Scholars

Yavin Alwis
Alex Boone
Cole Campbell
Robert Dedman
Tony Ding
Conner Gray
Grant Green
Hunter Hamilton
Carter Heckle
Matt Hopp
Troy Jiang
Ethan Long
Carter Lovvorn
Chapman Malone
Wes Richardson
Jay Shackleford
Jackson Siktberg
Zach Wassynger
Adam Young
Alvin Zhang
Andy Zhu

2015 Advanced Placement National

Sam Bellet
Clayton Cavallo
Joseph Downey
Aaron Kaplan
Mac Mackey
Thomas Marosz
Matthew Miccioli
Michael Milam
Henry Moxley
Ian Scholer
Nathan Sharp
Harrison Stewart
Richard Thornton
John Triplett
Curtis Turner
Steve Wood

2014 Advanced Placement National Scholars

Benjamin Barton
Benjamin Chen
Andrew Dupuis
John Higham
Clark Hooks
Sam Hurd
Wesley Jenkins
Denny Lackey
Davis Lovvorn
Tarun Mallipeddi
Rahul Ramanna
Sam Weien
Ben Yahnian

2013 Advanced Placement National Scholars

Adam Bowman
Tom Bu
Hunter Crabtree
Lucas Fortune
Barry Goldsmith
Chris Habermann
Benjamin Haynes
Chris Hooks
McLean Hudson
Andrew Karpos
Alan Liang
Bradley LongMark Lowe
David Maynard
Will McFadden
John Mellow
Hamilton Millwee
Connor Murphy
Michael Piana
McKay Proctor
Jonathan Siktberg
George Swenson
Hunter Tidwell
Kevin Wang

Careful reading and precise writing are the fundamental skills of our classical curriculum. They are essential to lifelong learning. Our boys develop strong writing skills by reading critically. Students analyze literature through the lens of history, thanks to a curriculum that integrates the subjects of English and history. In-depth discussions of literature are furthur enhanced by the single-gender environment and small classes. Innovative programs such as the “All-School Read” create an opportunity for the entire MBA community to read and discuss a particular book. When students, faculty, and staff go their separate ways over the summer, they remain united through their summer reading. Recent selections in the all-school read include Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and Shelby Foote's Shiloh.

A progressively-designed writing program stems from regular theme writing. As students move from the Junior School through the High School, theme guidelines follow a developmentally appropriate evolution in writing skills. Boys will learn to express themselves confidently in college essays, colorfully in creative pieces, and clearly in all disciplines.

Advanced degrees and years of experience dominate an English faculty that is also infused with commitment and idealism. Teachers set an example for what they expect from their students: intellectual curiosity, stimulating conversation, and a lifelong love of learning. Graduates often return to campus to visit with the people who inspired them to read extensively, to express opinions, and to write well.

Foreign Languages

The Department of Foreign Languages exemplifies the impact MBA’s classical education has in preparing students to meet the challenges of modern life. The study of Latin provides students not only with a basis for understanding varied cultures but also with a foundation for clear communication. That foundation, in turn, promotes the study of modern languages, including Spanish, French, and German. Latin remains a required part of the MBA curriculum because students learn to use Latin roots to define unfamiliar words in English, develop sophisticated analytical skills, and gain an overall appreciation of the literary legacy of the classical world.

The study of modern languages includes integrated programs leading to Advanced Placement study. Full use is made of a language laboratory (totally overhauled and updated in the summer of 2006) and the most advanced teaching approaches to enhance the student’s development of the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Modern languages are taught with the five C’s in mind – communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. Wilson Language Grants allow students to travel during the summer to countries cross the world.

In national language exams (National French Contest, National German Exam, National Greek Exam, National Latin Exam, and National Spanish Exam), students always do extremely well at the local, regional, state, and national levels. The students credit their teachers and an innovative curriculum for their stellar performances.


The History Department at MBA believes that careful study of the past facilitates clear understanding of the present and effective planning for the future. The pace of change in the modern world requires our students to discover, analyze, reflect, and understand. These skills form the heart of the history program at MBA. History students acquire an appreciation for the past, a respect for social systems, and a sense of civic responsibility.

Encounters with civilizations as old as recorded history and as contemporary as today’s current events help students to develop the tools to understand and operate in their own world. Whether engaged in a survey of the intellectual, social, and political history of modern Europe, or exploring ancient and medieval cultures, students are challenged to evaluate and analyze human behavior. The history department blends the old and the new in ways that offer students the chance to wrestle with challenges and evaluate events within their broader social, cultural, political, economic, and geopolitical contexts.

MBA’s history teachers create ways to invigorate the curriculum through an interdisciplinary approach. American History and American Literature are taught simultaneously in the tenth grade, while eleventh graders study Modern European History and British Literature together. In the process, students learn the significance of these connections and their importance in transcending traditional academic divisions in favor of a broader understanding of our world.


In this digital age, complex data are captured and shared by advanced technologies that impact the way we live, learn, work, and communicate. To understand the magnitude of these innovations, our students must acquire a literacy and proficiency in mathematics.

Mathematics at MBA owes its strength to a thoughtfully designed curriculum and a dedicated faculty. The department places particular emphasis on a strong academic foundation while recognizing the importance of technology in human affairs. A traditional sequence of required and elective courses – that includes AP programs in calculus, statistics, and computer science – is designed to provide each student with a sound knowledge of the discipline and the flexibility to apply that intelligence to future endeavors.
Four of our math teachers have over 125 years of teaching experience among them, while other faculty members have had successful business careers and bring with them practical experience from the private sector. All faculty members emphasize both fundamental and innovative concepts. For example, in AP Computer Science, students learn the fundamentals of problem solving as they learn to write programs. Math comes alive as teachers express their own range of interests and encourage boys to compete in national competitions.


MBA’s innovative and thoughtfully-designed science building strikes a prominent pose atop the campus hill. Ten fully-equipped laboratory classrooms, a budding research laboratory, botanical areas, and a large lecture hall provide MBA students and teachers with the resources to explore challenges of the natural world. The curriculum is drawn from the scientific method with emphasis on observation of scientific phenomena, laboratory experimentation, field studies, and first-hand experience, in order to build a foundation for advanced scientific study.

Students learn to think critically through problem solving and experimentation in the study of biological, chemical, and physical sciences; they will understand the connections among these scientific disciplines, and the relationship between science and mathematics as well.

Advanced placement courses are offered in chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental science, as well as upper level electives in astronomy and scientific research. It is a testament to the strength of the science curriculum and the faculty that even when all course requirements are satisfied, over 90 percent of MBA students choose to take advanced electives.

Student interest in the sciences is demonstrated by their participation in extracurricular competitions. In Science Olympiad, boys compete in areas that range from genetic design to rocketry, and from forestry to chemistry lab. The “Physics Bowl” allows juniors to compete against the best science students in the country. If a boy is interested in the environmental sciences, he may choose to join the Envirothon team. In state competitions, MBA students have won a multitude of state championships and consistently place among the top three schools in Tennessee in the Science Olympiad, Physics Bowl, and Envirothon tournaments.

Visual & Performing Arts

The Visual and Performing Arts Department brings together four distinct yet complementary disciplines: visual art, music, theater, and speech. Each of these four shares the qualities of expression, understanding, and interaction. The work of this department reflects life on campus, and the faculty members epitomize the well-rounded nature that is the hallmark of the MBA graduate.
Visual Arts: Expression in the visual arts offers students a chance to broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding of themselves. Boys draw from academic and athletic experiences to communicate in a visual manner. More than anything else, the visual arts instructors at MBA take seriously the role of the arts in educating the whole boy. The attention given to the visual arts is a mark of distinction and displays well the school’s commitment to a well-rounded, classical education.

Two large art studios and a dedicated art history classroom provide the physical space for the artistic journeys of the mind. The visual arts teachers are among the most beloved members of the MBA faculty, and they enlighten the faculty and staff with their observations and presentations. An impressive gallery on campus displays professional and student work. Graduates of the MBA Visual Arts Program have made significant contributions to the artistic, photographic, and cultural history of Nashville, and throughout the country.

Each year students participate in the National Scholastic Art Competition. The work they create stems from a variety of media and approaches, and shows a degree of sophistication more often found at the college level. This past year 28 MBA student artists earned regional and national recognition as gold and silver medal winners.

Music: The music curriculum boasts a wide variety of ensembles that meet the student’s specific needs and interests. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced classes are offered in concert band, jazz band, choir, a cappella groups and string orchestra. Music Theory AP is also offered to supplement and provide musical knowledge to any student on campus. Music of all styles and genres are taught and performed: jazz, pop, classical, all from the finest quality literature available.

Students involved in music at MBA have opportunities to perform in local and state competitions and festivals. Music is well integrated into life on campus in such ways as an annual collaboration with The Harpeth Hall School for a fall musical, playing in a rock band at athletic events, raising money for the W.O. Smith Music School with the student-produced fundraiser concert “Cellophony” and participating in the Endada Arts Festival. At Montgomery Bell Academy, students are prepared for a lifelong appreciation of music through performance and study. Finally, the students have opportunities for summer travel in music through our Wilson Grant program. They can apply to attend music programs in the states or abroad enriching and energizing other music students and the school.

Theater: The Theater Program at MBA teaches students to develop creative solutions to complex problems. By facing the challenges of performance, students develop sensitivity to the interpersonal relationships inherent in the collaborative process and thereby grow as individuals.

From the onset, teachers emphasize character and collaboration in the classroom. Beginning with the Greeks’ understanding of character as moral fiber, students consider and discuss how the work of both drama and life is about building character. Likewise, when famed acting teacher Sanford Meisner tells his theater students that “an ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words,” he reminds actors to “walk their talk” on and off the stage. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of theater as an art form is that it is a collaborative effort. Every contribution is important and necessary for a successful opening night. In classes and rehearsals, teachers emphasize cooperation and sacrificing personal ego for the greater good of the team and for the excellence of the performance itself. The greatest test of the success of a play is manifested in how well the cast and crew have worked together to produce the show.

MBA’s thespians produce six different shows each year, including a musical collaboration with Harpeth Hall and an evening of student-directed one-act plays. Named one of the top theater programs in the nation by the American High School Theater Festival, the MBA Players also produced one of their dramatic hits at the Fringe Theater Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in August of 2005. Since 2006, MBA one-acts have consistently represented the state of Tenessee at the Southeastern Theater Conference.

Speech & Debate: The speech curriculum is offered as an academic enrichment in the Junior School and for course credit in the High School. It brings together skills honed in all academic disciplines, while focusing on persuasive arguments, audience analysis, and poised presentations. MBA offers an integrated approach to speech training, ensuring every student many venues in which to develop his skills. From school assemblies to class presentations to pep rallies, students in all grades step up to the podium. Every ninth grader participates in the Freshman Speech Contest, researching and delivering a talk on topics ranging from nuclear power to stem cell research. Students with a strong foundation in public speaking find such skills useful in leadership positions in high school, throughout college, and in the professional world.

The Debate Program was established as MBA’s first extracurricular activity in 1914, yet debating societies were in existence here as early as the 1890’s. Echoing MBA’s sense of history, tradition, and academic excellence, the debate team continues to earn national recognition year after year.

The athletic program at MBA provides a healthy balance of fierce competition, team sportsmanship, and respect for the effort and talent of the opponent. There is an emphasis on goal setting, physical conditioning, preparation, and ultimately, performance. Lessons learned through athletics – discipline, self-confidence, preparation, and teamwork – are never limited to the sport itself. Preparing for the “big game” helps student-athletes to prepare for other challenges in life. Boys who consider themselves non-athletes often find that they learn from sports in ways they never thought possible. Though not every student will be a varsity athlete, every boy can experience the lessons learned through athletic competition.

Nearly half of the student body participates in nine interscholastic programs. MBA values the scope and quality of an athletic program that produces champion athletes who are equally proud to be considered gentlemen, scholars, and artists. To complement interscholastic athletics, the intramural and fitness programs are designed to promote spirited competition and lifelong conditioning. Ultimately, the sense of community that comes from athletic competition is rooted in the power of practice, perseverance, and teamwork. As both participants and fans, the entire MBA community comes together to celebrate the Big Red spirit.
A Tradition of Athletic Excellence

MBA athletic teams have produced state champions and earned national recognition in:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Riflery
  • Track
  • Cross Country
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Lacrosse
MBA’s seventh and eighth grades compete annually in HVAC championships in football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, baseball, swimming, tennis, and cross country. Since 2005, the Junior School athletes have won the HVAC all-sports Inman Trophy multiple times, with MBA being the first independent school to do so in fifteen years.

Dedicated Coaches & Teachers

MBA coaches on the field are also teachers in the classroom. Knowing boys as both students and athletes, coaches understand how best to instruct and inspire them. Many coaches were college or professional athletes. Two certified athletic trainers and a full-time staff member, trained in the prevention, evaluation, and rehabilitation of sports injuries, are on hand to work with all MBA student-athletes.
The athletic program, driven by a spirit of competition and sportsmanship, is an opportunity for students to experience challenge and humility whether celebrating victory or accepting defeat. Through life lessons learned, MBA maintains a tradition of balance and excellence.

Athletic Facilities

  • 3500-seat football stadium with turfed field
  • Eight-lane synthetic 400-meter track
  • New tennis facility with eight courts
  • Two gymnasiums with hard-wood basketball courts
  • 5000 sq. ft. weight room, managed by three full-time conditioning coaches
  • Wrestling room
  • Newly remodeled lacrosse field
  • Turfed soccer field on top of parking garage
  • Two athletic fields and a baseball diamond designated for the Junior School
  • Newly renovated baseball field and stadium, with batting and pitching facility
  • Updated locker rooms

Montgomery Bell Academy

4001 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 298-5514