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Learn more about Teach For America's work in the Memphis region.

For the past 12 years in Memphis we’ve been doing some exciting work to bring about educational equity and excellence for our students. For the eighth year in a row, our teachers were named by the state of Tennessee as among the most effective using their state report card. We’ve had numerous teachers named teacher of the year in their schools, networks, or systems. Every day in the classrooms of our corps members we see students succeed at rates not thought possible and they continue to raise the bar for our own expectations of what is possible in a first- or second-year teacher’s classroom.

We continue to be blown away by what our alumni are accomplishing in Memphis for students directly and in the broader systems that impact them. Today, our alumni lead at the systems-level of Shelby County Schools and several local charter networks. These leaders are working to reimagine how funding is distributed for schools from a flat per-pupil rate to one based on need; how charter schools are approved and held accountable to student outcomes; how to ensure an entire network of schools creates consistently excellent instruction for students; how students are disciplined so they re-engage and have their humanity honored instead of being suspended or expelled; and more.

Fully half of our alumni remain in the classroom. As teachers who are mastering their craft, they’re working to reimagine how students see themselves in history; they’ve been awarded national prizes and fellowships like the Sontag Prize and the Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative Fellowship; they’ve gone viral nationally and internationally for their support of students as they walk home from school and in building their confidence in a world that doesn’t always support them; they’ve established libraries where there are none, and so much more.

Our alumni also lead outside of schools to bring about change for our students. They’ve founded student-centered organizations like The College Initiative,Let’s Innovate Through Education, and Memphis Inner-City Rugby, all of which have proven results in increasing students’ academic outcomes as well as ensuring students are able to get into—and stay in—college. They’ve founded organizations like ALL Memphis, which works to increase student literacy rates by adapting a model used to help dyslexic students and applying it to all students. They’ve founded initiatives like Incarcerated Youth Speaking Out for Change which works with students in the criminal justice system to recommend changes in the systems that could have prevented their current realities. They work in organizations like CodeCrew that helps Black youth gain access to coding skills for the 21st century. 

Our alumni are also working to make Memphis itself vibrant. They lead innovative social ideas that bring millennials together in community; they’re leading organizations like JUICE Orange Mound that taps into the power of the Orange Mound neighborhood to strengthen it from within; they’re helping Memphians get fit by serving on the board of our new bike-share programs; they lead community development corporations to strengthen South Memphis; and more.

Teach for America Memphis has been instrumental in shaping much of the current direction of the city's education system reforms.

280

Corps Members

515

Local Alumni

285

Alumni Teachers

20

Alumni School Leaders

“As an educator, I get to be part of inspiring my students. When they struggle to imagine their own bright futures, I tell them my story. I remind them that I faced the same barriers and encourage them to be among those who break through. I remind my students that if we nurture our value of education and continue our thirst for knowledge, no matter what obstacles we face, we can and shall overcome. I want them to hold on to infinite hope.”

Ayo Akinmoladun

Assistant Principal of Instruction, KIPP Memphis Preparatory Elementary

Memphis Corps Member 2013

Athena Palmer

Memphis '06

Executive Director

Teach For America Memphis

Athena Palmer is a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and taught high school ecology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry at Kingsbury High School as a 2006 charter corps member in Memphis.

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Regional Staff & Board Leadership

Annual Report

Download One Day in Memphis: A Decade in Review.

Media Inquiries

Jeff Hulett
Key Public Strategies
jeff@keypublicstrategies.com