Local Cool School: Robert R. Church Elementary

Local Cool School

Robert R. Church Elementary is the only Shelby County School to jump from priority list to reward school status, in one year.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Something special is happening inside Robert R. Church Elementary School.

Everyone – students, teachers, and administrators are working hard. All invested in their success. 

“Everyone here had to pitch in,” said Dr. Janice Tankson, the school’s former principal. 

Tankson said it wasn’t uncommon for administrators to teach and tutor students. 

“Anyone knows if you have amazing teachers, you’re going to have amazing students because teachers are going to work hard to ensure the success for a student and that’s what we did,” said Tankson.

Their mission was to do more to help students, and it was key to the school jumping from the state’s priority list to reward school status in one year. 

Shelby County Schools has 22 “Reward Schools.” That’s a distinction from the Tennessee Department of Education, which measures a school’s success.  Robert R. Church Elementary is the only Shelby County School to jump from priority list to reward school status, in one year. 

“Data drove everything we did,” said Tankson. “Our teachers were constantly looking at the data of the assessments we were taking.” 

“That drove our instruction when students weren’t doing well – that’s where we focused,” she said.

The remarkable turnaround was recognized by the Shelby County Schools Board of Education Tuesday. 

For the school’s new principal Marqui Fifer he said his job is to keep the momentum going. 

“Having a great foundation is key,” said Fifer. “Our planning, our conversation, everything we do, we put our students first.” 

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