Aspire Public Schools opened its first school outside of California on Monday (Aug. 5) and for the students at Hanley Elementary School that meant star treatment.
Students filed into Hanley on a red carpet, passing under a balloon-adorned archway. Each registered student received a free uniform shirt.
"This is our inaugural school year in Memphis," said James Willcox, Aspire's chief executive officer. "Our team has been planning for this day for over a year and is excited about bringing our educational model to the students here in Memphis."
Hanley Elementary is the first school assigned to the national charter management organization as a part of the Achievement School District.
"What is unique about Aspire is our co-principal structure that allows our teachers to receive more support from the principal," said Allison Leslie, executive director Memphis.
The principals are Nikita Reed from Memphis and Barbara Harris from Aspire Public Schools in Los Angeles. Each is responsible for leading her team of kindergarten through fifth grade classes. The students will begin every day with a motivating morning assembly led by the principals.
"Our focus is preparing students for college," said Harris. "We will determine our students' greatest needs and tailor the curriculum to ensure they receive a quality education that will result in their success."
As a native Memphian and former assistant principal at Hanley, Reed is optimistic about the new school year and what opportunities are ahead for the students.
"I decided to work for Aspire because it gave me a chance to return to Orange Mound and serve the students and families here," said Reed. "Being able to return as a principal and enhance the students' education played a big role in my decision to join Aspire. I anticipate greatness this school year."
In addition to serving students in grades K-5, the Hanley campus will also house two Pre-K classrooms under the leadership of Porter-Leath.
(Aspire operates 37 high-performing, public charter schools serving 13,000 students in underserved communities across California and in Tennessee. For more information, visit www.aspirepublicschools.org.)