Elliot Perry, former University of Memphis basketball star and NBA standout, created the Education Champions initiative in 2011 to share stories and inspire action in Memphis
City Schools. Perry is a product of the local school system and knows the challenges urban school students face in the classroom and at home.
“My mom had me when she was 15 years old,” Perry told WREG-TV in Memphis. “If there’s one issue in our community that we should be fighting for and advocating for more than any other, positive or negative, it’s education—because it can fix everything.”
The Education Champions Initiative works to change the conversation about education in Memphis by highlighting champions with creative solutions for giving every child a chance at a high quality academic experience. It also encourages individuals to give, mentor, or advocate for the students in the Memphis school system.
Since its launch, ECI has identified 18 Champions as the groups on the frontlines of improving Memphis education. Among these are schools or school systems such as The Soulsville Charter School and KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools, and organizations including Teach For America, Stand for Children, and The New Teacher Project.
Given the energy of leaders like Elliot Perry and the community of champions gathering around education reform, Teach For America corps members and alumni are part of an exciting effort to create lasting change for the student in Memphis.
Charming and hip, Midtown Memphis contains several smaller neighborhoods within its borders. Corps members living in Midtown enjoy its eclectic atmosphere, cultural opportunities, and beautiful scenery. Overton Square features many theaters and restaurants, and historic Cooper-Young is known for its quirky coffee shops, ethnic food, live music, and independent art galleries. Midtown is also home to Overton Park, the Memphis Zoo, the Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis College of Art, and Rhodes College. Houses and apartments in the area tend to be renovated buildings from the 1920s through the 1940s that retain the structural character of the era.
In 2010, the Tennessee Department of Education chose to recognize Teach For America as the first non-higher education institution to be granted the right to certify its own teachers. Our corps members are now able to renew their teaching license based solely on their Teach For America professional development experience, and are no longer required to take courses at a university in order to continue teaching. Upon completion of their corps commitment, our teachers are awarded an apprentice license. Please refer to the Tennessee Department of Education Office of Teacher Licensing for more information.
We partner with Christian Brothers University to provide an option to pursue a master's in education. Corps members are able to use their Teach For America experience towards course credits, making it possible to receive a master's degree in only one year of study. Christian Brothers also offers corps members a 25% discount on tuition.