UofM, Porter-Leath, RedZone to launch Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound

UofM, Porter-Leath, RedZone to launch Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound
UofM, Porter-Leath, RedZone to launch Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound (Source: University of Memphis)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The University of Memphis and Porter-Leath are partnering to launch a new, innovative Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound, alongside RedZone Ministries.

The Academy is designed to help address a critical need for early childhood care in the Memphis community.

Construction and design plans are being finalized with the support of $15 million raised in private contributions. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Oct. 28.

The research-based educational facility will serve children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old. It will feature state-of-the-art research and observation technology, wraparound services for children and families, child-centered and developmentally appropriate spaces for learning and training facilities for current and prospective early childhood practitioners.

UofM, Porter-Leath, RedZone to launch Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound
UofM, Porter-Leath, RedZone to launch Early Childhood Academy in Orange Mound (Source: University of Memphis)

The site will feature 18 classrooms that will serve nearly 300 local children. The site design has been inspired by the community and neighborhood traditions of Orange Mound.

The Academy will also feature works of local artists in its “Main Street” lobby, as a way to highlight the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Orange Mound. An open proposal process inviting local artists to make presentations for consideration in the academy will be announced soon.

The preschool will serve 48 Early Head Start children and 200 preschool-aged children. Porter-Leath has submitted a plan to Shelby County Schools, the Head Start grantee, to transfer students from the nearby Hanley Head Start Center in Orange Mound.

In addition to Head Start and Early Head Start spaces, a select number of childcare spaces will be reserved at the Early Childhood Academy for UofM students, faculty and staff.

The new Center is the latest in a series of additions and expansions to the University Schools educational compendium which seeks to provide local children with educational experiences that enhance their development from birth to graduation and promote dynamic research, collaborative partnerships and innovative practices.

Through the addition of this center, the UofM will reach more than 1,000 children from birth to graduation through five University Schools.

A limited, socially distanced groundbreaking ceremony will be hosted on-site on Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. and will also be made available to the public online.

For more information, email sally.parish@memphis.edu.

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