Greg Spillyards - Why I Believe Memphis Academy…


Memphis is a city full of scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers, social and political change leaders who, if things remain as they are, we may never know.

Seeds of creativity and innovation remain buried in the minds and hearts of children throughout our city, never to sprout and grow as designed. This reality is unacceptable. The current state of our public education system breaks my heart.

The dreams I see in the eyes of my own children are no different than those of a boy or girl living next door or across town. All children deserve the opportunity to pursue their created purpose. For too long, quality education in Memphis has been segregated for those who live in the right neighborhood or can pay the rapidly inflating cost of private school. This must change for Memphis to be a truly great city. Our thought and action leaders must be diverse and reflect Memphis as a whole, which requires all youth to have access to a high standard of development and education.  This is why I am committed to Believe Memphis Academy.

Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to serve at a local Memphis elementary school. At the end of the year the school hosted an awards program where a 3rd grade student was celebrated for 3 years of perfect attendance. She had not missed a day of school since she began her 1st grade year. Even more amazing, she did it through her own dedication, walking herself to school each morning by herself. A teacher familiar with the student informed me that she was responsible for waking herself each morning, preparing for the day ahead and getting out the door ready to learn.  

The question which has haunted me since that day is one that asks if the school was as prepared for this young learner to the extent she had prepared. Was the school prepared to present, support and actively engage with her around the curriculum needed for her intellectual foundation? She is 18 or 19 years old now and I often wonder where she is and how things went for her from that celebration day forward.

We, as a city, should be intently focused on creating schools prepared to equip, mature, and set the trajectory for students to reach their highest potential. I know Believe Memphis Academy would have been perfect for her as she began her 4th grade year, to match the preparation she brought to her own learning.

Too often, students are doing all that is expected of them from kindergarten through high school, only to find that the school was not prepared to adequately equip them with the foundation and knowledge required to successfully navigate higher education or life. How were they to know? If no advocate, they can only trust the system within which they are placed.

When Believe Memphis Academy opens the doors to a host of smiling 4th graders in August 2018, I will think of that student many years ago and know that Believe Memphis Academy is prepared. Believe Memphis Academy will be prepared to frame the academic foundation, support the uniqueness of each learner and to develop each student to be leaders in a life flourishing with opportunity to positively impact Memphis, and ultimately the world in which they live.

Danny Song