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Porter-Leath’s New Early Childhood Academy
A ribbon cutting ceremony will officially open the 32,000-square-foot facility.
 
By Richard J. Alley
 
For over 160 years, Porter-Leath has been a primary resource for Memphis’ at-risk children and families. By partnering with local organizations such as Yuletide Office Solutions and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and through the mission of empowering children and families to achieve a healthy, optimal, and independent lifestyle, Porter-Leath helps build stronger children, stronger families, and a stronger Memphis.
 
To further this mission, Porter-Leath is planning to celebrate the grand opening of its Early Childhood Academy with a ribbon cutting to be held at 628 Alice Avenue on Friday, February 10, at 1:00 p.m. The Academy is a state-of-the-art preschool and teacher training institute that will provide comprehensive early childhood education and support services for 224 students as well as professional training and development for preschool teachers and educators across the early childhood landscape in Memphis.
 
Designed by national early learning facility specialist RDG Planning and Design, the 16-classroom, 32,000-square-foot facility weaves local culture, history, and geography into safe, inviting spaces that encourage play and exploration. Its child-friendly architecture utilizes natural light, lush landscapes, and bright colors that enrich learning opportunities. The facility will serve 224 students and their families combined between Early Head Start and Head Start components.
Porter Leath's New Early Childhood Academy
“The Early Childhood Academy is our next step towards revitalizing the Shelby County early childhood education system,” says 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.”
 
In addition to the Preschool, The Academy will also 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 utilizes instructional coaches to provide continual professional development opportunities for early childhood educators.
 
Rafel Hart joined Porter-Leath in July 2016 as the vice president of its Teacher Excellence Program, where he and partners have administered the program’s design, implementation, and evaluation. Hart will supervise the program’s launch and continued development.
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