F eatured in some copies of Memphis Parent this month is the Memphis School Guide’s 2016 School Navigator. Here you’ll find an overview of local K-12 school options, how to determine which school is a good fit for your child and family, and what you need to know to enroll.
You’ll discover the info here is just a start. Memphis has long had a number of options parents could choose from, including traditional public, Optional, and private schools. But now we’ve got charter and iZone schools, too, not to mention eight different school districts. It’s enough to make a confused parent want to draw the blinds and take a stab at homeschooling (which many families have done).
Here’s what you should know
Every local child has a guaranteed seat in a zoned school. But you also have choices for your child.
An active search will help you pick the right school.
I founded Memphis School Guide, a website launched earlier this year, to help you understand what your choices are and how to make the best decision. But who am I? And what’s inside the Memphis School Guide? Read on.
Memphis school guide’s origin story
The term “origin story” has links to superheroes and supervillains, but I am neither (although my family may disagree on any given day). I’m a pretty typical wife and mother of two who came to Memphis 22 years ago for college.
Until recently, I worked for a nonprofit called Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust (MOST). By providing scholarship funds, MOST helps more than 500 low-income kids annually attend private schools. There, I spoke with many parents who were looking for a different option for their children, and from listening to the stories of those who received scholarships, I know how lucky we are to have a community of strong independent and parochial schools in Memphis serving kids across the economic spectrum.
But, here’s a twist. My own first- and fifth-graders walk two short blocks to our neighborhood public school, something my husband and I never expected when we moved to Midtown. However, after researching and visiting a number of other options, we decided to give our public school a shot. I’d never say it’s perfect (no school is), but it’s been a good fit for us, and the close proximity gives us the ability to be involved in a way I don’t think we could if we lived further away. (Plus, walking to school just feels so retro.)
These days, a number of kids on our street join my boys on their walk to school in the morning. And as they do, they give a friendly wave to other neighborhood children who are in back seats heading off to other schools — public and private, near and far. All of us — walkers and drivers alike — feel fortunate to have found schools that fit our families’ needs.
That’s not to say finding or getting into those schools was always easy. I’ve had many playground conversations with parents trading tips and rumors on how to navigate the school search and enrollment process. Sometimes they have good info, sometimes not. For almost everyone, it often seems unnecessarily complicated and confusing.
You’ve Got This
I created Memphis School Guide for families who want to do well by their child but don’t have time to try to figure out all the local-school craziness on their own (which is probably EVERY family, in both cases).
After you’ve looked through the 2016 School Navigator, I invite you to visit us at MemphisSchoolGuide.org. If you’ve already found the right school for your child, please leave a review on your school’s profile; other parents would appreciate hearing about your experience. If you’re still looking, take time to browse our pages and save your favorites — we’ll let you know each time important new information is added about a favorite school.
As confusing as school choice can seem, you know what your kids need, and given the proper information and tools, you’ll find it. The best news? You don’t have to be a superhero to do it.