Porter-Leath Breaks Ground on Early Childhood Academy in South Memphis

On March 16, 2016 Porter-Leath broke ground to build its Early Childhood Academy in the South Memphis community. This state-of-the-art preschool and teacher training institute will establish a continuum of early childhood education, from prenatal to age five that defines and promotes excellence for young children and their families. The teacher training institute component highlights Porter-Leath’s commitment to quality educators in every classroom. The Academy will open for children’s classes and teacher training in early Spring 2017. 

Designed by early learning facility specialist RDG Planning and Design, the 32,000-square-foot facility weaves local culture, history and geography into safe, inviting spaces that encourage play and exploration. “During one of our planning meetings, one specific comment resonated with the design team” said Ed Buglewicz, Early Learning Architect at RDG.  “Memphis is a city in the middle of a forest, next to a river.  That phrase in conjunction with the goal of connecting children with nature emerged as the focus for the academy and created the basis of the building’s experience in contributing to the learning opportunities. Throughout the design meetings our goals related back to the river and the forest.  Both elements are represented in the broad view of the building - the river on one half of the building, and the forest on the other.” The Academy’s child-friendly architecture utilizes natural light, lush landscapes and bright colors that enrich learning opportunities.

The Academy will provide comprehensive early childhood education and support services for 224 students in 16 classrooms. The facility will also feature a teacher training center to develop successful early childhood educators in partnership with Shelby County Schools. Paired with its outstanding early learning facility, the Academy’s teacher training program lays the groundwork for revitalizing the Shelby County early childhood education system. "The Early Childhood Academy will provide intensive professional development for early childhood teachers at Porter-Leath, SCS and throughout the Mid-South with an evidence-based curriculum and meaningful partnerships to prepare children for school and life success,” said Sean Lee, President of Porter-Leath. “The Academy will demonstrate the benefits of quality preschool and effective Teachers.  The lessons learned will carry our children and community to great heights." Teachers will have the opportunity to attend sessions in the center’s large meeting space facilitated by top experts in early childhood education, see the best practices implemented in the classrooms, and then enter the classroom to put into practice what they have learned and receive constructive feedback from Master Teachers.

A special thank you to our Strategic Partners, the Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation, Plough Foundation, Canale Foundation, The Assisi Foundation, the Shelby County School Board, SCS Superintendent Dorsey E. Hopson, Dr. DeAnna McClendon, the Porter-Leath Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, Porter-Leath preschool leadership staff, the Academy Planning Team, RDG and Flintco for their commitment in making this project a success.