Meet the Charters…Old and New

Memphis Delta Prep 2

Memphis Delta Prep’s Director of Operations Caitlin Streit, and Executive Director Mike McKenna in the room that will become the teaching staff’s “Practice Headquarters.”

You can meet leaders from Memphis Delta Prep and representatives from more than sixty other local charter schools at the Charter School Enrollment Fair this Saturday, March 12, 10 am – 2 pm, at the Cook Convention Center. 

Memphis Delta Prep

The first thing Mike McKenna tells me as we start the tour of Memphis Delta Prep, a new elementary charter school opening this fall in South Memphis, is that he’s getting rid of the library.

Wait. What?

The space that used to house the school building’s library is the first thing you see when you walk in. It has old-fashioned paned windows that look into it from the hall. It’s spacious, well-lit, and about to be taken over by the new school’s teaching staff as their “Practice Headquarters.” McKenna, who is the school’s executive director and main instructional leader, believes in teacher development above almost all else, so he’s putting the space where his teaching staff will plan and collaborate in the most visible spot in the school.

“If we focus on one thing — making sure teachers get better — great things will happen for kids,” says McKenna.

(Not to worry…each classroom will have its own library to keep kids reading.)

McKenna started his own career as a teacher for six years at The Soulsville Charter School, also located in South Memphis. He left town for a few years to serve as an assistant principal at a KIPP School in Philadelphia and to start an educational consulting firm, but knew he wanted to come back to help South Memphis kids get a great educational start.

Memphis Delta Prep will open in the building formerly occupied by Lincoln Elementary with kindergarten through 4th grade this fall, and will add 5th grade in 2017. The school will be a college-prep school, using some traditional methods like intensive time spent in literacy blocks. But there will also be elements that may be less familiar to local families, like the Spielgaben blocks curriculum, a mindfulness program called MindUP, and even more rare in most public schools….a 30-minute daily recess. McKenna believes that children learn best through play and he’s determined that his school will reflect that.

The biggest recent news for Memphis Delta Prep is that it has established an official partnership with The Soulsville Charter School, a top-performing, highly in-demand charter school nearby. McKenna is excited to be coordinating efforts with his former employer to provide a world-class education for South Memphis kids. Stop by the school any Tuesday from 3-5 pm for tours, or call 901-848-2325 to schedule a tour on other days. The school is currently accepting applications on its website.

Memphis Delta Prep is just one of more than sixty charter schools that will have representatives at the Charter School Enrollment Fair this Saturday, March 12, 2016. Many schools will be taking applications on the spot.