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Books, poetry and music—this isn't your average café!

One Douglass K-8 teacher created "Williams Creative Café" to encourage higher student literacy rates.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The new café in town isn’t a regular coffee shop, it’s a creative learning space called the "Williams Creative Café." Teacher Phillip Williams is bringing the joy of learning to Douglass K-8 Optional School.

“My favorite thing about this class is the vibes,” student Laila Brown said. 

Kaylee Hernandez is another student who said that she felt "calm" in the space. 

“I feel like I’m in my comfort zone in my room—just writing, sitting down," she said.

As a first year creative writing teacher, in an area where students test scores are low across all subjects, Williams found a solution, releasing students of the confinements of a regular classroom through writing and music.

Credit: Meka Wilson
Beanbag chairs occupy space in the "Creative Café" at Douglas Optional School.

“The reason I chose to do the creative café is because from my experience," Williams said. "Even as a child, I never learned well in a classroom that felt like a classroom. The classroom can be so confining, and it can feel more like a cell than it does a creative space to learn.”

The creative café is giving students and outlet to be true to themselves and create future goals.

“My biggest goal for this year is to be myself because it’s hard for me to be myself,” Brown said. “I feel like this class will help me by writing. I love poetry, so poetry helps me get out my emotions.”

The class also intends on helping the students understand the real world.

“I want the students to be able to understand what’s going on in their local world and in the national world so that they can express it and actually be heard,” Williams said.”

Student Ricc’ey Chism said his slogan for the class is “come in, be you and be true.” 

“When I grow up, I want to be a CEO,” Chism said.

Credit: Meka Wilson
Classrooms can feel "confining" and "more like a cell than a creative space to learn" according to one Douglas Optional teacher Phillip Williams. His solution is a more relaxed creative space.

Williams Creative Café doesn’t stop at writing, poetry and music. The classroom's next steps will feature giving back to the community.

“We’ll definitely be doing some community service,” Williams said. “During the holidays we’ll take a day and go and give to the homeless, and we’ll make sure they see what it means to give back.”

Students of all grades at Douglass K-8 can go to the Williams Creative Café to express themselves and read fun books outside of the regular curriculum.

Credit: Meka Wilson

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