Lausanne Collegiate School

Lausanne Collegiate School, is an independent, coeducational, nonsectarian school in Memphis, Tennessee, for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school also has a sizable international population, with foreign nationals comprising 33% of the student body, representing 55 different countries.[1]

Lausanne Collegiate School
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Lausanne Discovery Center Aerial.jpg
Lausanne's campus.
1381 W. Massey Rd, Memphis, TN 38120


Coordinates35°06′44″N 89°51′09″W / 35.1121°N 89.8526°W / 35.1121; -89.8526Coordinates: 35°06′44″N 89°51′09″W / 35.1121°N 89.8526°W / 35.1121; -89.8526
TypeIndependent, coeducational, nonsectarian, college-preparatory
MottoCognitio Veritas Honor
"Knowledge, Truth, and Honor"
FounderEmma Jett and Bessie Statler
PrincipalHigh School - Stuart Dunster
Middle School - Greg Graber
Lower School - Kara Barbour
HeadmasterStuart McCathie
Color(s)navy blue and gold
MascotLouie the Lynx
NicknameLausanne Lynx


As an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, Lausanne's academic curriculum is vertically aligned from age 3 through 12th grade.[2] The school is currently scheduled to become the 19th school nationwide to receive PK through 12th grade International Baccalaureate accreditation.[3] Building blocks of the IB Diploma Programme can be seen across the Lower, Middle and Upper School.

Lower School students presenting their findings about the solar system to their school.

Lower School (PK, JK, SK and Grades 1-4)Edit

Each class in Lower School incorporates activities for individual levels of readiness to allow for children to grow at their own rate and pattern. Units of inquiry and hands-on projects are designed to enhance students' preparation to thematic teaching.[4] Small class sizes, daily Mandarin and Spanish classes and a project approach to learning are highlights. The Lower School is currently scheduled to add Primary Years Programme accreditation by fall of 2018.

A Middle School class being held on Lausanne's greenway.

Middle School (Grades 5-8)Edit

Middle School curriculum emphasizes self-advocacy and time management abilities as their independence builds with age. Subjects are thematically tied together.[5] Lausanne was the first school in the Mid-South to implement the House System in 2006, building bonds across student groups.[6] The Middle School is currently scheduled to add Middle Years Programme accreditation by fall of 2018.

Two girls walking through one of Lausanne's breezeways.

Upper School (Grades 9-12)Edit

Lausanne's Upper School follows the IB Diploma Programme and single IB Certificate Course.[7]

History of LausanneEdit

Founding and Central Avenue Campus (1926-1953)Edit

In 1926, Emma DeSaussure Jett, Bessie Statler, and two other veteran teachers left St. Mary's Episcopal School and founded their own small private girls’ school at 1649 Central Avenue in Memphis.

Lausanne co-founders Emma DeSaussure Jett and Bessie Statler.

Originally named Lausanne School for Girls, the school was named after the Swiss city of Lausanne, a city that prided itself on elite education (see Education in Switzerland), and the area from which Mrs. Jett's DeSaussure ancestors had migrated to America.

In the 1930s during the Great Depression, maintaining the private school was difficult. The women marshaled forward, lead by their vision of providing the best education possible. But even with the return of prosperity following World War II, Lausanne's viability remained tenuous. Luckily, the physical plant of recently dissolved Pentecost-Garrison School at Union Extended and Hollywood became available in 1952, and Lausanne secured a favorable lease on the property.

Union Avenue Campus (1953-1959)Edit

To facilitate the school's continuation, Principals Statler and Jett converted what had been their proprietary school to a not-for-profit educational foundation. During the early years on Union, there were problems with the school's management, its enrollment declined, and it again seemed in danger of becoming defunct. Lausanne families, however, fought back. They held fund raisers like carnivals and spaghetti suppers to help generate revenue. More productively, Mrs. Nelse R. Thompson, a long time patron of the school and a member of the educational foundation's board, determined to make the school financially secure. Working in tandem with Headmistress Myrtle Cobb, whom the board had hired away from a tenured position at Memphis State College, Mrs. Thompson pulled off a near miracle. Her personal donations and astute solicitations insured the raising of sufficient funds for a new beginning as a boarding school. Within two years, Lausanne had purchased a twenty-acre campus site on Massey Road and had also acquired the funds necessary to build an impressive physical plant.

Massey Campus (1959-present)Edit

Mrs. Thompson's plan for the school to provide a prestigious boarding environment was successful, and for a number of years brought in significantly more income than its operations cost.

Walter Coppedge with B.F. Skinner

Shortly after the school moved to Massey Road, Mrs. Cobb resigned as headmistress, and the board hired Walter R. Coppedge as Headmaster and the only male member of the faculty. Although he had no administrative training or experience, Coppedge proved a strong choice. He was generally popular with the school's board, faculty and staff, students, and parents. A cultured child of the Mississippi Delta, he was also a well-traveled former Rhodes Scholar. His innovations included: marvelous open letters to the school's various constituencies and a high-profile lecture series that brought in international caliber visiting lecturers including William Buckley, Jr., Dr. Margaret Mead and Aldous Huxley. He also expanded the school's push towards international education with annual traveling summer courses held in Europe and Mexico and other major educational travel experiences. Coppedge's five-year tenure took Lausanne to new levels of intellectual openness, community exposure and general excellence.

Thomas Eppley, a Lausanne history teacher became headmaster in 1965 and his 21-year tenure brought many additional changes. Notable among these were: racial integration, a Montessori program, the school's gradual conversion to coeducational status and eventual growth away from the Montessori Method.

Although boys had been enrolled in Lausanne's kindergarten program as early as the 1930s, the expansion of the Montessori Method through lower school expanded enrollment of boys in all grades pre-kindergarten through sixth. Extensive investigation led faculty, administration and board members to conclude that coeducation was preferable to single-sex education in many respects. The Upper School became gender integrated in the late-1970s, and Lausanne graduated its first co-ed class in 1981.

The boarding school brought ethnically and regionally diverse students into the Lausanne community (enriching its informal learning) and its athletic and arts programs. Flags hanging in the Tully Dining Hall recognize 65 different countries represented by Lausanne students over the decades. Despite achievements and milestones during Eppley's administration, in his last few years the school faced declining enrollments and financial stresses. Eppley stepped down, replaced by Charles Henderson, who had been successful as headmaster at two other schools. Problems persisted, however, to the point that Lausanne strongly considered a merger with Hutchison School.

In 1992, the board hired George Elder to run Lausanne. The school later added Tanner Hall, Shockey Hall and the Elder Performing Arts Center. He also expanded the arts, athletic and academic programs, especially strengthening the areas of technology, mathematics and science. After an interim headmaster, current Headmaster, Stuart McCathie, took Lausanne's helm in 2005.

Headmaster Stuart McCathie shares some time with kindergarten students painting.

McCathie has continued to expand the school's enrollment and financial viability, its physical plant (the Upper Middle School Building designed by The Crump Firm, the 60,000 square-foot library and indoor sports complex, a centralized technology center, the Blue Heron Café and outdoor sports complex renovation) and its athletic programs. He also expanded the cafeteria, built a new library and gym, and placed a mini-café in the lobby of the new library (2012). In 2010 Lausanne was designated as an International Baccalaureate World School (IB).

In 2016, the school announced that they would open their second campus, Xiamen #1 Lausanne International School, in Xiamen, China in the fall of 2017.[8]

Lausanne Learning InstituteEdit

The school's technology program, specifically its one-to-one laptop program has been internationally recognized[9][10] through its operation of the Lausanne Laptop Institute since 2003. In 2013, the program was renamed the Lausanne Learning Institute to focus more on new styles of pedagogy for classrooms using technology.[11] In 2017, Lausanne Learning began organizing and facilitating conferences across the United States on a variety of educational themes, such as technology in the classroom, social-emotional learning, and design thinking. Also in 2017, Lausanne Learning launched a teaching mentor program, creating a peer-to-peer learning system for educators. In 2019, Lausanne Learning Institute (LLI) became simply Lausanne Learning, with a mission to engage students, empower educators, and transform schools.[12]

Notable alumniEdit


  • Several scenes for the 1993 movie The Firm were filmed on the campus. The most notable is the playground scene featuring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Gene Hackman, where the school's main buildings can be seen in the background.


  1. ^ "Lausanne At A Glance - Lausanne Collegiate School". Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  2. ^ "How IB is different | International Baccalaureate®". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-01-24. External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Primary Years | 3 to 12 | International Baccalaureate®". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  5. ^ "Middle years | 11 to 16 | International Baccalaureate®". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  6. ^ "Schools / House system builds community". 2010-12-03. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Diploma Programme". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-01-12. External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^,0,4118239.story
  11. ^
  12. ^

External linksEdit