Opening Soon: New Early Childhood Academy in Frayser

Porter-Leath to host virtual Grand Opening on March 26

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Porter-Leath is proud to announce the upcoming opening of its newest Early Childhood Academy which will house preschool children ages six weeks to five and Porter-Leath’s Teacher Excellence Program. Made possible by community partners committed to high-quality early education for all Shelby County children regardless of ZIP code, the Early Childhood Academy in Frayser is a state-of-the-art preschool and teacher training institute that will provide comprehensive early childhood education and support for 248 students, as well as professional training and development for preschool teachers and early childhood educators in the area. A virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on March 26 at 10 am and will be livestreamed to Porter-Leath’s Facebook page ( and YouTube channel.

"We are excited to celebrate the grand opening of our newest Early Childhood Academy in Frayser,” said Sean Lee, President of Porter-Leath. “This incredible space continues our model that brings together the very best people, programming and partners to improve the lives of children and their families throughout Shelby County.”

More About the Early Childhood Academy in Frayser

Built by Flintco and designed by national early learning facility specialist RDG Planning and Design, the 16-classroom, 35,501-square-foot facility will serve 248 students as the second in a series of four new early childhood academies. Like the first Early Childhood Academy in South Memphis opened in 2017, the Early Childhood Academy in Frayser is a model of excellence for the education of young children, weaving local culture, history and geography into safe, inviting spaces that encourage play and exploration. Its child-friendly architecture utilizes natural light, musical elements, lush landscapes and bright colors that enrich learning opportunities.

Children who enter Kindergarten on track to achieve grade-level reading by the third are nearly five times more likely to graduate high school. The Academy’s programming is built on evidence-based Early Head Start and Head Start models that are bolstered by supportive wraparound services and training programming to ensure Kindergarten readiness. The result is the highest-quality preschool setting for area children and families.

Academy Location:
3060 Baskin Street,
Memphis, TN 38127

The Teacher Excellence Program

The Early Childhood Academy in Frayser will include a laboratory teacher training center to equip early childhood educators with valuable skills that enhance teacher effectiveness, increase student achievement, and maximize classroom and family engagement. Developed in partnership with Shelby County Schools, the Teacher Excellence Program will use the expanded space in Frayser to further its mission of providing high-quality professional development and coaching for preschool teachers at Porter-Leath as well as for teachers throughout Shelby County—including Shelby County Schools, the Achievement School District, First 8, charter operators and private day home/care operators.

In addition to classroom learning, mentorship and lectures from guest speakers, a team of highly-trained Relief Teachers will be used to relieve Teachers in classrooms so that they can attend intensive professional development at the newest academy. Resources for the Teacher Excellence Program at the Early Childhood Academy in Frayser will include a training center, observation bays, and audio/video technology.

Executive Leadership

  • Sean Lee: President
  • Karen Harrell: Senior Vice President of Early Childhood Services
  • Dr. Kelley Nichols: Vice President of Teacher Excellence
  • Towanda Peete-Smith: Head Start Director
  • Sheronda Smith: Early Head Start Director

Other Early Childhood Academy Locations

Along with its newest location in the Frayser neighborhood, Porter-Leath’s Early Childhood Program also oversees the operation of its original Early Childhood Academy—opened in 2017—at 628 Alice Avenue, Memphis, TN 38106.

Two additional Early Childhood Academies are anticipated to open by 2022, each incorporating the Teacher Excellence Program and designed to empower children and families to achieve healthy, optimal and independent lifestyles.