Unsung Hero: Teresa Standard, University School of Nashville

A financial trailblazer, Standard has modernized every inch of the business office while promoting and enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Oct 15, 2021


The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations.

Title: Director of Finance
School: University School of Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee
Years in Position: 20
Years in an independent school business office: 20

Superpower: Idea machine: Never one to yield to precedent, Standard “sees potential in the independent school sector to go far beyond the status quo, and pushes our administrative team to think and do something different every year,” said University School’s Director Vincent Durnan. “She gets the little things right while maintaining the big picture, and without ever settling for the way things are. She's an idea machine, a connector, and a boundless source of energy to challenge the status quo.”

Growth mindset: Under Standard’s financial leadership, the University School of Nashville has seen its endowment grow 35-fold and its debt reduced to an eighth of what it was when Standard first arrived. In addition, Standard oversaw campus renovations that added 40% to the school’s interior square feet — all while keeping tuition affordable to families. “I could not imagine our school getting to where we are now without Teresa,” said Durnan.

Diversity advocate: Standard is “a fierce advocate in the hiring process for a faculty and staff that look like our student body. She has built a business office that is one of the most racially diverse centers on campus, which is located right on our main hallway, a resource to all who come into the school,” said Durnan.

Budget tour de force: Five years ago, Standard developed a tool called the Financial Communications Flash Report, which helps the school benchmark monthly finances. Standard uses this tool, among other resources, to “convene a wide-open, totally transparent budget session for our Board, our families, and our faculty and staff,” said Durnan. In other words, “She provides a tour de force — she’s an advocate for the long-term wellbeing of the school without losing touch with the everyday, personal, material concerns we all bring to the table.”

Other duties as assigned: Standard volunteers as an academic advisor in the upper school and “leans into that support role as determinedly as any classrooms teacher.”

See a full list of the 2021 recipients and read more about the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award. NetAssets.org will post additional profiles of Unsung Heroes throughout the fall — check in to learn more about other recipients.



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