Update - The newsletter for the University of Memphis
More March Features:

Campus School is Among Best
Recycling Initiative Gains Steam
U of M Effort to Clean Memphis
U of M's 'Blue' Patrol Turns Green
DAA Gala: Year of the Tiger
Skloot's Book is Best-Seller
AUSP Joins Effort in Caribbean
Magnani Discovers Fault Line
Web Exclusive: Campus School


March 2010 Briefs

Boom-a-lacka, boom-a-lacka... This was the beginning of the 1920-1921 Lady Tigresses cheer that started every game that season. Read more

Green Thumb: A variety of plants identified by NASA as top air cleaners are part of a campus study in reductions in heating and cooling costs. Read more

The University of Memphis's Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy has appointed Dr. Jeffrey S. Lowe as associate director of its newly-established Mid-Sized Cities Policy Research Institute.

The Assisi Foundation of Memphis has awarded a $500,000 renewable grant this year toward a $2.5 million conditional pledge over five years to the U of M to assist the School of Public Health, formed in July 2009, in obtaining its national accreditation.

For More Information:
303 Administration Building
Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: 901/678-3811
Fax: 901/678-3607
e-mail: grussll@memphis.edu

Web Exclusive: Origins of the Campus School

Campus School ranked amonth state's best

By Sara Hoover

At the Campus School, you may see students roller-skating in the hallway or taped to the wall. But don’t be fooled, both activities are educational. Roller-skating is a skill that helps build better readers, while the kids stuck on the wall are learning about gravity and force.

As Dr. Nate Essex, former dean of the College of Education, said at a Parents’ Night, “Campus School’s not for everyone. You have to believe in innovation, change, research and in creating.”

The Memphis City Schools (MCS) elementary school and training lab for students in the University’s College of Education is in its final year of serving sixth grade and will become first through fifth grades to be consistent with the MCS system, but may add a kindergarten. Sixteen regular classroom teachers and five support area teachers serve a maximum of 350 students.

Campus School students in Ted James� drum class work to perfect the   beat. (Photo by Lindsey Lissau)
Campus School students in Ted James’ drum class work to perfect the beat.
(Photo by Lindsey Lissau)

“We’re a school of choice,” said principal Susan Copeland. “All of the children are here because their parents believe in what we do and primarily support what we do. It’s a diverse school. Parents really want their children to have an education in the real world and that commitment is strong. We want our school to be a place that welcomes children, their parents and that forges relationships.”

There are no academic or behavioral requirements of students for admission.

“When you look at the University environment, it’s a microcosm,” said Copeland (BSEd ’84, MEd ’91, EdD ’04). “We cross all lines of economics, gender and ethnicity. We have 28 zip codes represented in this school. What I’m proudest of is proving day in and day out we can pull this off if we come in with the right attitude. When you can take children from across the spectrum —we don’t only have children with the best scores or best behavior — we show that high-academic and high-behavior expectations works with everybody.”

Priority enrollment goes first to full-time administrators and faculty, then maintenance and staff. Next priority goes to siblings of those already enrolled and finally, a student’s proximity to the school.

As for being a teaching lab for College of Education students, the Campus School serves different functions. University students observe teaching, practice student teaching while being overseen, do long-term internships and some even teach two days a week.

“The teachers, you can’t find any better (ones),” said Copeland. “We are U of M employees, so we have an obligation to the University in terms of working with different departments, conducting research, training teachers, working with pre-service teachers. Typically, we have about 600 different touches with University students in their prep work in a given year. That’s a lot of modeling and demonstrating. Then, teachers are totally and completely obligated to MCS because we are a public school and a lot of our funding comes from the public school system. They have a double job. It’s not for the meek.

“I walked by a classroom, one of the kids said, ‘I wish today would never end.’ Something wonderful must be going on in that classroom. That’s the kind of thing that keeps us coming back.”

The school also serves as a research and training ground for other departments.

“We do a lot of research with sociology, psychology and all of the psychometric testing and testing in schools in terms of keeping up with children’s data,” said Copeland, who has been principal for 13 years and with the school for 25 years.

The relationship between the University and the school is one that goes back to the very beginning.

“The University is very benevolent toward Campus School. We’ve been here since day one. The University was built around the Campus School, called the Training School at the time. That long-term and committed relationship has sustained us through years when a lot of colleges and universities let go of their laboratory schools. The University continued to believe in what we did and what we had to offer was of value.”

Musician Leigh Frith shows a student the proper technique in violin class for   first- through third-graders. (Photo by Lindsey Lissau)
Musician Leigh Frith shows a student the proper technique in violin class for first- through third-graders.
Campus School was established as the Training School in 1912 in connection with the West Tennessee State Normal School (the University of Memphis’ first name) so that University students could gain practical teaching experience under the direction of master teachers.

The Training School was originally located in the Administration Building under the supervision of the head of the Department of Education and served as an “adequate working laboratory in which the prospective teacher may gain actual experience and scientific knowledge in the art of teaching,” which was very much supported and expanded by the University’s third president, Dr. Andrew Kincannon, who served from 1918 to 1924.

In the fall of 1919, realizing that the growth of the institution demanded larger facilities, the demonstration school was enlarged from first through third grades to encompass the first six grades. The 1923 enrollment reached a total of 162 pupils.

A new demonstration school building was to be erected on campus, adjoining the Administration Building. This measure had been passed by the County Court of Shelby County and approved by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. Construction began in 1921 and was paid for with a combined gift of $80,000: $30,000 from the City of Memphis and $50,000 from Shelby County.

In 1924, on the U of M campus, the Shelby County and State Boards of Education completed a new demonstration school, placed under the management of the University.

The Training School was incorporated into Memphis City Schools in 1930, and the MCS Board of Education joined the State Board of Education to help finance the Training School.

As of 1941, it was a one-story building that contained offices, classrooms, an auditorium and “open courts” for the children.

Relocated to its current facilities in 1963, the Training School had its name officially changed to the MSU Campus School. In 1994, Memphis State University changed its name to The University of Memphis; therefore, the school became The University of Memphis Campus School.

Today, the Campus School consistently ranks as one of the best in the state and top in the city based on its Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores. In 2008, the school was ranked the No. 1 elementary school in Memphis and ninth in the state and in the Top 20 for reading and language arts out of all elementary schools in Tennessee. With its 2009 TCAP results, the Campus School continues to maintain its highest achieving standards.

“We are in the top rankings,” said Copeland. “We’ve gotten monetary awards for being one of the higher achieving schools in the state. I got that rose at a principal’s meeting because 80 percent of our children are performing in advanced range. With the new state standards that are coming down, that’s a real accomplishment.”

Standardized tests, though, are a tool the school has been using even when it was known as the Training School, according to the 1923 DeSoto yearbook: “One of the outstanding features has been the systematic use of standardized tests. Standardized intelligence and educational tests have both been used this year. These data have been scientifically compiled under the careful supervision of the Head of the Department of Education, in such a way that any deficiency may be quickly noted and speedily remedied, thus giving the future teacher a practical working knowledge of these methods.”

Dr. Jim Whelan, associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences and parent with a daughter in the school’s last sixth grade, believes the high achievements are due to a variety of factors.

“Being a research school, they attract teachers who are interested not just in teaching, but in teaching others how to teach,” said Whelan (PhD ‘89). “The teachers are very invested in teaching as a career. Second, Susan Copeland sets the atmosphere and an expectation about the school that is embodied by teachers and students: We’re all in this together. The final factor is parents are involved. Consequently, having parents involved, they understand what their children’s curriculum is and buy-in to the objectives and that’s a big factor.”

One thing that helps to build community is the weekly Family Gatherings held every Friday morning.

“Being a lab school, we follow research that builds environment and community and brings people together often,” said Copeland. “We start with movement where we dance together. Different grade levels take turns demonstrating life skills through a skit. It helps put us together in a place that reaffirms what we stand for and what we believe in and our promises to each other.”

Campus School teacher Susan Van Dyck�s beginning guitar class practices chord changes. (Photo by Lindsey Lissau)
Campus School teacher Susan Van Dyck’s beginning guitar class practices chord changes. (Photo by Lindsey Lissau)

The school’s motto is: “I promise to be respectful, responsible and ready.”

The school recently implemented a Mandarin Chinese curriculum with the U of M’s Confucius Institute. Children will not only learn the language, but also the culture.

Community service to help students become wellrounded includes volunteering with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Hope for Haiti Collection and a Green Committee working to make the school green. Extracurricular activities are offered, such as music, gymnastics, newspaper club, tae kwon do and performing arts.

“Our afterschool programs are to give kids an opportunity to experience things they might not otherwise have access to,” Copeland said. “Some of them are free, some of them aren’t. We have a wide variety. We take that as seriously as anything else and you can’t separate them because what you do for kids emotionally and physically totally impacts what you can do for them academically.”

Philosophy department chair Dr. Deb Tollefsen has two children at the school who participate in extracurricular activities.

“They have a wonderful, wonderful music program. Ms. Van Dyck’s been there forever. They learn how to read music. My son knows how to read music. He’s also in the newspaper club. They do so much for the kids.”

“The opportunity Susan Van Dyck presents to the kids – she trains them,” adds Whelan who selected the school based on reputation, convenience and academic performance. “Both of my girls have been on stage at the Cannon Center and the Orpheum because of Susan. When there’s a need in the city for a children’s choir, Susan’s often the point person. To be 11 years old and have already sung on the stage of the Orpheum is a pretty remarkable thing and a real confidence builder.”

The school works on a balanced calendar with classes held for approximately nine weeks and then a two-week break.

“I think the calendar is great. I think summer is too long,” said Tollefsen. “I don’t think parents realize because it’s a school associated with the College, this innovation is part of what they’re doing here. Trying new things out and a new curriculum as a kind of laboratory school for thinking about how to extend those things in other places. They went out on newspaper day and took pictures on campus but they’re also visiting the school newspaper. They did these things when they had the two-week breaks. They had enrichment classes and went to the greenhouse and saw the lab animals. When we have a performance here, we can make use of the University’s resources and that’s a huge bonus to build those relationships across levels of education. It’s really a great thing.”

Whelan says of the overall experience, “The Campus School is a private school education at a public school price. You walk in that building, every single teacher knows every child’s name. They know what’s going on with your kid. They are happy to be there, dedicated to their job. Most people have to pay to get that kind of service.”

(Historical information compiled from the Campus School handbook, 1923 DeSoto yearbook and June 1941 Memphis State College Bulletin with assistance from history research assistant Frances Wright Breland.)

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