Memphis leaders are developing Shelby County Schools’ first academic plan since the merger. And they want input.

Two years ago, Memphis leaders unveiled their priorities for transforming public education in Shelby County Schools by 2025.

Now, they’re honing the strategies aimed at getting them there.

Sharon Griffin (SCS)

A comprehensive academic plan is being developed under Sharon Griffin, who was named chief of schools in January. Targeted for completion in January, the detailed academic blueprint will be the first for Tennessee’s largest district since its 2013 merger of city and county schools.

But first, Griffin and her team want to hear from educators, parents and other community stakeholders. Community meetings kick off this week as part of the district’s “Destination 2025 listening tour.”

“We are not shifting from our priorities under Destination 2025,” Griffin said last week. “We’re trying to identify the how.”

Priorities under Destination 2025 are to:

  • Strengthen early literacy;
  • Improve post-secondary readiness;
  • Develop teachers, leaders and central office staff to drive student success;
  • Expand high-quality school options;
  • Mobilize family and community partners

The community meetings also will provide a platform for talking about the district’s mostly disappointing scores released last month under the state’s new standardized test, as well as efforts to adjust to Tennessee’s new Common Core-aligned learning standards.

Educators and parents listen during one of nine community meetings held in 2016 to explore the future of Memphis schools. (Marta W. Aldrich)

“With the standards shift, this is our first time of having true data, so we want to be very honest and transparent,” Griffin said.

The five-meeting tour comes one year after a similar community engagement push under the “Great Schools, Greater Community” campaign. Last fall, nine community meetings were convened to seek public input for the district’s eventual plan to address an infrastructure with too many schools serving too few students.

Griffin said academics will be the focus of the upcoming tour — specifically, which strategies can drive high-quality instruction in classrooms and equip students for college and career?

The new academic plan will be put into action over the next three years, and Griffin said she wants it to stick.

“Our constituents and our community want stability,” she said. “They want us to name what we’re going to do, get good at it, and keep that going versus just changing strategies. We want this playbook to stand as a constant reminder to stick with our strategies.”

The first gathering is on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Douglass High School. You can find the full list of meetings here.