The UofM announced Thursday that it is beginning the development of a kindergarten program as a part of its Campus School. The school, which opened in 1912, had only offered first through fifth grade classes until this year.

Although the idea was explored between five and 10 years ago, the UofM was unable to find success in starting a kindergarten program according to Sally Parish, associate vice president for Educational Initiatives. The new program also creates easier access to primary education for students in the Memphis community.

“The addition of a kindergarten program allows us to remove a major barrier to access that local families may have experienced as a result of the school not including a kindergarten program.” Parish said. “With the recent successes and expansions of our University Schools compendium, we were eager to be able to meet this significant need.”

The new program will be housed in a preexisting building that is being remodeled to fit the needs of the class. The building is located behind the Campus School campus, just behind the playground, saving space in the area.

“It is being renovated and repurposed for educational use and the existing playground fence will move to fully encompass the building as part of the school grounds,” Parish said.

Campus School is also a Laboratory School, meaning it acts as a resource for the state of Tennessee by testing and implementing new curriculum and educational approaches. It also serves as a training school where aspiring teachers and education professionals can be supervised while getting professional practice.

“Laboratory schools are also unique in the way that they engage faculty researchers who publish best practices that are implemented, observed, and researched within the schools.” Parish said, “Campus School, for example, has partnerships with over a dozen academic departments on campus. The addition also allows for our intensive research and practitioner practice programs to extend into the kindergarten space.”

There are numerous projects that occur throughout the year at Campus School. Two new studies are set to be launched this semester.

“Two that we are launching this semester relate to language acquisition and dyslexia.” Parish said, “Another relates to social emotional learning through the arts.”

Campus School promotes a unique learning environment for its students, as well as offers innovative curriculum. In 2019, it was the only Blue Ribbon designated elementary school in West Tennessee, meaning that it was nationally recognized for its academic excellence.

“It is one of the only university affiliated laboratory elementary schools in the state, and the only 2019 Blue Ribbon designated elementary school in West Tennessee,” Parish said. “Their approach to learning promotes collaboration, research, excellence in teaching, an enthusiasm for learning, and diversity through a highly engaged community of faculty, staff, students, families and university partners.”

The introduction of a kindergarten program will not only expand the outreach that the UofM has on the community, but it will also expose students at the UofM, who are majoring in education, to experiences that can only be offered by hands-on approaches. The Campus School is expected to enroll 700 students in the 2020-2021 school year according to the press release.

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