VOL. 126 | NO. 231 | Monday, November 28, 2011
Adding Some Soul to School
By Jeremy Park
Last week we focused on attracting, developing and retaining knowledge workers and leaders in our city and noted that it takes each of us doing our part for Memphis to succeed. This week let us spotlight an organization that is dedicated to preparing students for success in college and life in an academically rigorous, music-rich environment: The Soulsville Charter School.
Established in 2005, The Soulsville Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school in the inner-city Memphis neighborhood of Soulsville, USA. The school is located adjacent to the site of historic Stax Records, where the Stax Museum of American Soul Music now celebrates and preserves the Stax story. What began with 60 students in sixth grade has since grown to serve 480 students in grades six through 12 with more than a third of the students living in the Soulsville community.
Similar to other high-performing jewels in our community, like Collegiate School of Memphis and Cornerstone Preparatory School, the heart of TSCS’s college preparatory curriculum emphasizes great teaching (hiring world class teachers) and learning, as achieved through standards-based and data-driven instruction in core academic areas. The goal is to ensure every component of every program pushes students toward college and varied life opportunities. Just as critical, the school fosters a culture that nurtures learning and builds a foundation for strong character, responsibility and pride. This is epitomized in its core values: Community, Respect, Integrity, Scholarship and Empathy, which become an acronym for its motto, “As a Community, we RISE.”
TSCS has become known, not just for its track record in surpassing the educational benchmarks, but for its unique approach. The school operates on an extended school year from the beginning of August through the end of June, so students may spend more time on task. They have an extended school day, so more time can be spent on language arts and mathematics. The school also offers Saturday School and Summer Term, a required three-week summer session primarily spent on a collegiate campus to give students early exposure to college.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference is how the school weaves some “soul” into the experience. Almost all students participate in a string-and-rhythm orchestra whether they have musical experience or not (most do not). The goal is to enhance their education, to learn discipline of music, to learn what it means to be members of a team and to enjoy doing it all! Students have performed with musical luminaries Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly, John Legend and Kirk Whalum. Even basketball analyst and former coach Digger Phelps has joined students while “Walking the Dog.”
I encourage you to take a tour and see the amazing work they are doing in our community. Learn more at www.soulsvillecharterschool.org or contact their executive director, NeShante Brown, at 946-2535 or email@example.com.
Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.