Extra Credit: Campus School's 100th anniversary

(WMC-TV) - The University of Memphis is celebrating 100 years of existence, as is a smaller school on the same campus that caters to much younger students.

Campus School was established in 1912 as The Training School with the mission of giving students "teaching experience under the direction of master teachers."

100 years later, the school has evolved into one of the premiere laboratory schools in the United States...promoting collaboration, research, excellence in teaching, enthusiasm for learning and diversity.

"We're always implementing the cutting edge of things that we believe will do what we need to do for our children," said Campus School Director Dr. Susan Copeland.

Campus School has a rich history that is celebrated by students, parents, and teachers. Rachel Thompson is a Campus School alum who, although graduating from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, says she always dreamed of coming back to the U of M Campus School to teach.

"Everything we learned in the college about good practices in the classroom were the things that were going on at Campus," explains Thompson, who now teaches 1st grade at the school.

And the histories of families have become interwoven within the school. Ask any number of students, and you'll find that many have brothers, sisters, mothers and, or fathers who also attended Campus School. And then, there are also students like 5th grader Emily Arnold whose mother teaches 1st grade at the school.

"I think we're a family away from home and then the kids feel welcome. The families feel welcome. We love grandparents, aunts, uncles, anybody, they're all an important part of the education and the school environment," said Thompson, whose younger sisters became students at the elementary school 7 and 9 years after her.

But, it takes more than warm and fuzzy feelings to make a school successful. And Campus School is certainly successful. It has become a flagship for innovative teaching throughout the state of Tennessee, and one of the highest performing schools in the Memphis City School District and the State of Tennessee for the past ten years.

Campus also ranked number one in Reading, number two in math and social studies, and number three in science on the TCAP for all elementary schools in the MCS district. Older students, like 5th grader Kate Bingham, say the teachers work hard to get students motivated to learn.

"Because all of the teachers...they make it all so exciting and they're very nice and they care about all the students," she said.

Jalen Jones, who is also in his last year at Campus, points to the diversity of the student body and it's teachers and everyone's ability to get along.

"Everybody here is so good, you know? They like each other. There's no hatred here," he said.

Dr. Copeland concurs, "So, in this little kingdom of many scion-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, what we find are people who are really committed to each other. And that's just what we want our community to be. And the rest of it just falls into place."

By the way, Copeland has been at Campus 27 years now: 12 years as a classroom teacher (she taught Rachel Thompson in third grade!) And 15 years as the Director.

"When people talk, who have been in this school, whether it's as a parent, as a students, as a teacher, there is a connection and love for this place that runs so deep...and...I'm honored by that. It's a blessing to me, and I recognize that in so many people, that...it makes the work more than work...it's not work...it's passion," she said.

A passion that has apparently been a part of the curriculum for 100 years and, if the world keeps spinning, 100 years more.

For more information about Campus School go to: http://www.campusschool.org/Home.html

If you have an idea for Extra Credit...please send Kym Clark an email to:   extracredit@wmctv.com

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