On February 10, 2016, Porter-Leath officially opened the Early Childhood Academy. The Academy is the place where Porter-Leath will bring together the very best people, programming, and partners to improve the lives of children and their families at Porter-Leath and throughout Shelby County. It is a state-of-the-art preschool for 224 Head Start and Early Head Start children ages six weeks to age five in South Memphis. Programming will involve children and their families in the highest-quality preschool setting, using evidence-based Head Start models while families receive ongoing supporting wrap-around services and training. The Early Childhood Academy will serve as a model for excellence for the education of young children and improves the quality of early childhood staff throughout and beyond Shelby County.
The nicest early childhood education facility in the nation, it will house Porter-Leath's new Teacher Excellence Program, led by VP of Teacher Excellence, Rafel Hart. The Teacher Excellence Program creates a continuum of professional development and embedded training for early childhood educators across Shelby County. The program will utilize the design feature of the Academy - training center, observation bays, A/V technology - and highly skilled staff to provide high-quality professional development and motivation for Porter-Leath's Preschool teachers, as well as for teachers throughout Shelby County, including Shelby County Schools, Achievement Schools District, charter providers, and day home/care operators.
The Teacher Excellence Program uses a vibrant team of twelve relief teachers and six instructional coaches so that classroom teachers may leave their students under the instruction of well-prepared staff and receive training from the absolute best early childhood educators. By embedding professional development and continual training, early childhood educators across Shelby County will continue Porter-Leath's work in increasing kindergarten readiness, particularly those in poverty. Children who enter kindergarten ready to learn are solidly on a path to be reading on grade level by third grade, which means they will graduate high school at least 90% of the time.
"The Early Childhood Academy is our next step towards revitalizing the Shelby County early childhood education system,” said Sean Lee, President of Porter-Leath. “In the last two years, our dedicated educators have more than doubled the kindergarten readiness rate for children in poverty. The Early Childhood Academy will continue that work as we progress to ensuring every child enters school ready to learn. We look forward to making a meaningful and lasting impact on children and families in the Mid-South."
- Name: Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy
- Address: 628 Alice Ave - 38106
- Classrooms: 16 - 8 Head Start/8 Early Head Start
- Children: 224 - 160 Head Start/64 Early Head Start
- Builder: Flintco Tim Weatherford - Vice President
- Architect: RDG Planning & Design from Omaha, NE Ed Buglewicz - Architect
- Ground Broken: March 15, 2016
- Completion: January 23, 2017
A special thanks to the many who have helped share the great news of the Early Childhood Academy:
Memphis Business Journal
Inside Memphis Business
The Tri-State Defender